<
>

Jackson: 'I did a great job'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Knicks finished with the worst record in franchise history in 2014-15. So what does the team president think about his job performance?

"I did a great job last year, shedding [contracts] to put us in a position where we have this flexibility,” Phil Jackson said Tuesday.

In an earlier interview with The New York Times, Jackson said he deserved a vote for executive of the year.

Some Knicks fans might have an issue with how Jackson has portrayed his first year as team president. The Knicks finished with a franchise-low 17 wins and suffered through losing streaks of 16 and 10 games.

Jackson took credit for shedding contracts, but he inherited most of the contracts that are coming off the Knicks’ books this summer. He did move J.R. Smith – and his 2016 player option – in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Jackson eschewed Raymond Felton’s 2016 player option in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks.

But Jackson also added Jose Calderon’s contract via the same trade. Calderon is scheduled to make $15.1 million over the next two seasons.

The Knicks project to have approximately $26 million in cap space this summer. Jackson hopes to use that cap space -- and the team's high draft pick -- to turn things around. The Knicks will pick fourth Thursday night.

The Knicks are “listening” to but not “soliciting” trade offers for the No. 4 pick, Jackson said. He believes there is a “small” chance New York will deal the pick.

“We’re looking for mature kids that have a reasonable understanding of their skills and how they fit in and have had some successes in the past because of that,” Jackson said.

Jackson reiterated that the Knicks are looking for a versatile defensive big man – either in free agency or the draft.

“We have great hopes that we can find somebody out there that has that ability,” Jackson said. “The draft has a couple of guys that have that capability to show that, and free agency does.”

Jackson hinted that he'd like to pair the big alongside Carmelo Anthony so that Anthony can play power forward.

He also added that the Knicks are also trying to obtain a second-round pick.

After the players are drafted and the cap space is filled, Jackson hopes to field a team that can compete in the Eastern Conference.

“I do think that this team does have to be competitive and back into a competitive zone where we're back out there competing every night for 48 minutes,” Jackson said. “That's something we're attempting to do, and then everything will work the way it's supposed to work, and I think when you have trainable athletes that comes quicker.”