The fans at STAPLES Center should have been more specific on just where "We Want Phil!"
The former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson has reportedly signed a five year deal worth $12 million dollars per year to run the New York Knickerbockers. His title will be President of Basketball Operations, which will give him the final say over any and all basketball-related matters as it pertains to the roster, coaches and NBA Draft. There's no report yet as to what will become of current President Steve Mills or head coach Mike Woodson.
To the surprise of some, Jackson, 68, will not return to coaching, even for an abbreviated period of time. He's stated several times, especially in relation to taking over Mike D'Antoni's job, that he's done with coaching; Jackson's job will remain contained strictly to the office. The Zen Master has always been open about his fondness for New York, as he spent almost the entirety of his playing career in a Knicks uniform, including his first championship in the 1972-73 season. There were rumors during this past summer that if the Sacramento Kings were to move to Seattle that Jackson would be given the same sort of role he now has in NY.
This will be the first executive role of any kind for Jackson, who's spent the last four decades working the sidelines in various capacities. He's largely been hired into this role because of his vast experience, intelligence and quite frankly, desperation of the New York Knicks. The Bockers are in a full-blown free fall, with a bloated roster of overpaid veterans that aren't even in the playoff picture in the horrid Eastern Conference. The future looks equally dim, with Carmelo Anthony rumored to leave town this summer via free agency and the franchise having dealt many of its future first round draft picks for the likes of Andrea Bargnani and oddly enough, Anthony. Jackson, though very inexperienced in this capacity, should work as a sort of salve for a largely discontented fanbase that's lost all faith in the organization's infrastructure. There's no telling whether or not Phil will be able to be successful in this high-pressure role or whether he'll be able to maneuver through the complicated gymnastics of the salary cap. He could be a complete disaster.
Still, many Lakers fans have to be dismayed with this news, especially as the team is spiraling towards the worst season in Los Angeles franchise history. VP of Player Personnel and owner Jim Buss has come under more fire than ever as the chief decision-maker for the Lakers and many hoped that Jackson, co-owner Jeannie Buss's fiancee, might begin to take an expanded official role with the organization. This will most likely never come to pass, putting an end to any hope that Jackon will ever return to LA working for the purple and gold. Though unlikely, the "We Want Phil" chants should now fade away.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino