Mark Jackson Calls Phil Jackson a ‘Failure’ with Knicks, Talks Carmelo Anthony

ESPN analyst and former NBA player and coach Mark Jackson called Phil Jackson a “failure” as the president of the New York Knicks and criticized his handling of Carmelo Anthony, according to Ian Begley of Tuesday:

In the three full seasons since hiring Phil Jackson in March 2014, the Knicks have gone 80-166 and haven’t reached the postseason.

As Mark Jackson noted, Phil Jackson and the Knicks gave Anthony a no-trade clause when he signed his five-year, $124 million deal in June 2014. That, in turn, gave Anthony all of the future leverage when it came to deciding whether he’d stay in New York.

That leverage came into play this past season, as Phil Jackson repeatedly took subtle jabs at Anthony and seemed inclined to trade him, presumably in an effort to rebuild around young star Kristaps Porzingis. 

And in April, Jackson said he would prefer that Anthony played elsewhere next season.

“We have not been able to win with him on the court at this time, and I think the direction with our team is that he is a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere he can win or chase that championship,” Jackson told reporters, per Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press (via

He also talked about his offseason meeting with Anthony.

“We just talked about how we could make things the best possible things for both of us, (find) a place where he could go to be competitive and to be back in the hunt, and something that would benefit us moving forward as a young, developing team,” Jackson said.

But Anthony has all of the leverage and could be content to simply defy Jackson and remain with the Knicks given how Jackson has handled the situation, one of many issues the team faces.

For one, Porzingis skipped his exit interview after the season, reportedly angry about New York’s front-office circus, while other players on the team are unhappy with playing in the outdated triangle offense. Then there were the offseason moves to bring in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, which backfired.

And as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical wrote in April, “Players grumble of a support staff that is far more concerned about creating an illusion of hard work with management and ownership than facilitating winning, a media-relations staff that is suffocating and intrusive, and a management/coaching dynamic that’s made [head coach Jeff Hornacek] look like a puppet.”

So the Knicks find themselves with a superstar they don’t want but may not be able to unload, a young star who is unhappy with the organization, players who don’t believe in the system their coach is forced to implement and prospective draftees and free agents potentially being turned off by the organization’s dysfunction. 

Suffice to say, Jackson’s tenure as president has not been a success.

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