Phil Jackson has reached an agreement in principle to oversee the Knicks basketball operations and “president’’ will be in his title, according to a league source.
All that’s left is the lawyers finalizing the last contract details by week’s end before Jackson officially returns to the organization that drafted him and where he won two titles as a player.
Jackson gave the Knicks a verbal commitment on Saturday. The Garden still will not comment on Jackson’s status.
Knicks president/general manager Steve Mills will remain on board in a revised role and work with Jackson. Knicks owner James Dolan hired Mills because of his vast network of contacts with NBA agents and GMs. That isn’t the strong suit of Jackson, winner of 11 titles as coach of the Bulls and Lakers.
Some issues during the last couple of days revolved around his living arrangements. Jackson lives in Marina Del Rey, Calif., with his fiancée, Lakers president Jeanie Buss. Jackson is expected to live in New York during the season, but do some commuting. Buss visits New York on business periodically.
The third time is the charm for (James) Dolan, who had tried to woo Jackson twice previously. Dolan failed in 1999 when Jeff Van Gundy was coaching and again in 2005 when Isiah Thomas attempted to lure Jackson.
Three years ago, Buss said, “I can tell you he was open to going to the Knicks in 2005, then the Laker job opened up. The Knicks job would bring him full circle and I wouldn’t stop him.’’