Mike Vaccaro: ‘Jackson Certainly Didn’t Close’
Phil Jackson might want to call Mariano Rivera this week for some advice – not on how to throw a cut fastball, but rather, on how to close in general.
Yes, after courting Steve Kerr for weeks, if not months, Jackson saw his former player – with whom he won three championships – sign a five-year contract to become the next head coach at Golden State.
“Well, (Jackson) certainly didn’t close, and I think he was hired to be a closer,” New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro said on The John Feinstein Show. “He’s not Mariano Rivera. He’s not Glenn Close.”
We can only speculate how Jackson’s 11-ring ego is faring today.
“We don’t know how nefarious the Garden can be and the things you have to deal with,” Vaccaro said, “but that’s part of what Phil Jackson signed on for. He knew what he was getting into, and he’s being handsomely compensated for it. So look, he targeted this guy, and he was his only plan. Plan A, Plan B, Plan C – and he couldn’t close it.
“So I think at the end of the day, the guy you got to point at right now is Phil Jackson – because everything that he’s based what the future of the Knicks are going to be is because he’s going to be able to wave his 11 rings at people and say, ‘Come play here.’ And so far, he’s 0-for-1.”
But maybe Jackson isn’t to blame here. In fact, there are rumors that James Dolan tried to low-ball Kerr and his agent, Mike Tannenbaum.
“I think that it was definitely a factor in the sense that both Kerr and Tannenbaum, realized it behooved (them) to kind of try and extend this process as long as possible – and good for them,” Vaccaro said. “The Pistons wound up helping them out by hiring Stan Van Gundy and suddenly the Warriors were back in play. So I think from that standpoint, not jumping at the Knicks’ initial offer was a wise move on Kerr’s part.”
Kerr’s signed a five-year, $25-million deal with Golden State. Time will tell if that was a wise investment.
“To be honest with you, we have no idea if Kerr is going to be a very good head good,” Vaccaro said. “He could be an adequate head coach, (and) you can try and project these things. But there’s certainly no guarantee (he’ll) be better than Mark Jackson. And frankly, there’s no guarantee he’s better than Mike Woodson. We just don’t know.”
Regardless of Kerr’s viability as an NBA coach, missing out on him is a bad sign for the Knicks, who, in theory, are trying to convince Carmelo Anthony to stick around. If Jackson couldn’t get the coach he wanted – a coach with no experience, mind you – how is he going to get the players he wanted?
“That’s not exactly the way that Pat Riley did things in Miami when he was building what he built down there,” Vaccaro said, comparing the two legendary coaches. “And that’s what Phil is going to be judged against his entire career here. Essentially, he signed on here to be what Pat Riley has been in Miami, which is an engineer and organizer of a championship team.
“And so far, he’s 0-for-1.”