Phil Jackson may turn out to be a dazzling combination of Jerry West, Pat Riley and the great Red Auerbach in his first try as a full-time front-office executive if he does finally agree to come to the Knicks.
Yet it's impossible to ignore that the team's pursuit of Jackson looks like a desperate act by a desperate man, Knicks owner James Dolan, that's meant, first and foremost, to keep Carmelo Anthony from abandoning the franchise this summer. It's more about the short term and Melo. If Jackson -- now 68 and admittedly too weary to travel much -- is able to fumigate the Knicks' organization of its worst traits and bring back the glory days of his legendary coach Red Holzman, it's easy to imagine Dolan saying well, hell, a long-term fix would be great too.
It's just hard not to notice that Dolan's first imperative has to be preventing Anthony from leaving New York. Or that this latest grand gesture of Dolan's has so far looked like an arrow that went flying by his intended target like so many others have.
Anthony, perceptive man that he is, has reacted to news that Jackson may be coming by essentially saying, "Eh."
After paying homage to Jackson's 11 rings as a coach before the Knicks' game in Boston on Wednesday night, Anthony added it won't affect his thinking on whether he will leave the Knicks as a free agent.
All that lovey-dovey talk Anthony arrived in New York spouting is long gone. In its place is the same coolness toward wasting his prime with the perennially mismanaged Knicks organization that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and a handful of other superstars showed before him.
The difference? All those stars wisely refused to commit to even one three-year test drive with the Knicks the way Anthony did.
Now he's on the verge of missing the postseason for the first time in his career despite having a terrific season. And there are persistent rumors that he's already decided to leave despite the extra $30 million the Knicks can pay him. A more hopeful theory is, at best, that he may agree to stay for one more year.
The other clue that betrays Dolan's desperation is the curious timing of chasing Jackson now, with mere weeks left in a lost-looking season.
Wait -- you don't think it's a coincidence the Jackson chase has coincided with the rise of the Brooklyn Nets, one of the NBA's hottest teams since January?
Or that while Knicks coach Mike Woodson is a dead man walking, the Nets' Jason Kidd has emerged as a viable candidate for coach of the year?
Or that Nets executive Billy King was able to add a useful piece to the team at the trade deadline, prying guard Marcus Thornton away from the Kings while the Knicks did nothing to help Anthony -- not at the trade deadline, and not last summer, when someone in the lead underground bunker where Dolan locks his front-office types away thought it was a good idea to re-sign J.R. Smith and trade for underachiever Andrea Bargnani.
Now Bargnani's contract, like Amar'e Stoudemire's, suddenly can't expire soon enough. Immediately after the trade deadline passed, the Knicks were back to trying to sell sugarplum versions of "Someday" yet again, same as they did in the Summer of LeBron.