The former Chicago Bulls great, speaking Thursday on ESPN’s The Jump, rested blame for the recent failures of the New York Knicks squarely of the shoulders of their president while offering sympathy for the plight of All-Star Carmelo Anthony.
“To be honest with you, I’m gonna have to go at my old coach, Phil Jackson,” said Pippen, who played under Jackson with the Bulls, won six NBA championships and made seven All-Star teams.
“I just think he hasn’t put the right pieces on the floor. I give a lot of credit to Carmelo, who has been very professional in getting through this 82-game season, and now he’s being benched to some degree, they’ve taken a lot of his minutes away.”
On the night the Knicks were eliminated from playoff contention, Carmelo Anthony said he’s “at peace” with playing a lesser role the rest of the season so the team can evaluate its young players.
Jeff Hornacek expects the Knicks to run the triangle exclusively next season and said he is unsure New York can be a playoff team with its current core unless players fully embrace the system.
“But this team really just hasn’t had it,” Pippen added. “They haven’t had it since Phil Jackson landed there.”
Jackson was hired as Knicks president in March 2014. The Knicks have yet to reach the playoffs during Jackson’s time in New York, finishing an East-worst 17-65 in his first season and 32-50 the next. The Knicks are 28-47 this season with seven games left.
“There has not been any upside to think that the New York Knicks were gonna be a contender, and I just feel bad for Carmelo having to go through this and having to deal with it, but he got a great contract, so …” Pippen said amid laughter from his panelists, adding, “I’m sure the fans will love to see Carmelo in New York and Phil out.”
Asked if Jackson should be pushed out his job, Pippen replied, “Yes.”
Last month, Knicks owner James Dolan said he would “honor my agreement” and let Jackson finish his five-year contract if he chooses and not meddle in any player personnel affairs.