By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer
Days after Jackson reiterated his desire to trade Anthony and said he would listen to deals for Kristaps Porzingis, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan reversed course and cut ties with Jackson on Wednesday.
“After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction,” Dolan said in a statement. “Phil Jackson is one of the most celebrated and successful individuals in the history of the NBA. His legacy in the game of basketball is unmatched.”
But his work as a first-time executive was awful. The winner of an NBA-record 11 championships as coach, Jackson couldn’t engineer one playoff berth while running the Knicks. The team was 80-166 in his three full seasons, including a franchise-worst 17-65 in 2014-15.
The move comes less than a week after Jackson led the Knicks through the NBA draft and on the eve of free agency that opens Saturday. Dolan said general manager Steve Mills would run the day-to-day business of the team in the short term.
Jackson was a Hall of Fame coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, delivering titles with some of the game’s biggest stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. He also was part of the Knicks when they won NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.
He was welcomed back to the organization to huge fanfare in March 2014, but it soon became clear the transition would be a poor one. His first coaching hire, Derek Fisher, lasted just 1½ seasons, and Jackson’s trades and free agency moves also failed to improve the club.
“I had hoped, of course, to bring another NBA championship to the Garden. As someone who treasures winning, I am deeply disappointed that we weren’t able to do that,” Jackson said. “New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best — today and always.”
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.