Phil Jackson's 'posse' problem won't hurt Knicks in free agency

Jay Z knows offensive words when he raps them, so as an authority on such matters he was well within his right to take a subtle dig at Phil Jackson for his referring to LeBron James’ friends and business partners as a “posse.”

The rap impresario mocked Jackson on Monday night in Brooklyn as Jay Z was presenting LeBron with the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award, a well-deserved honor, although Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt would have been an equally worthy choice. But that’s another story.

Jackson’s public misstep just won’t go away. Phil was criticized by LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, former Knick Iman Shumpert and now the posse comment was referenced by Jay Z. Jackson enjoys being the center of attention and remaining relevant is his life’s mission. He accomplished that here. But Jackson, the former hippie, can’t enjoy the tone of that criticism. No NBA executive wants to be accused of being out of touch with today’s players.

In a year when three white NBA head coaches, Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy and Steve Kerr, all publicly expressed regret over Donald Trump winning the presidential election, Jackson made the same news cycle by calling the biggest name in the NBA and his fellow African-American friends and business partners a “posse.” The optics are not good.

Jay Z takes dig at Phil Jackson while introducing LeBron James

How that impacts Jackson and the Knicks in free agency next summer is up for debate. LeBron, who is under contract through the 2017-18 season isn’t coming to New York while Jackson is running the Knicks. We all know that.

It’s naïve to think that other teams won’t use the posse comment against Jackson in July. All’s fair in love and free agency. And maybe some players will be turned off by Jackson’s dismissive attitude.

Phil Jackson's controversial comments about LeBron James continue to trail him.

Phil Jackson’s controversial comments about LeBron James continue to trail him.

(Frank Franklin II/AP)

But there is another saying that applies to NBA free agency and life in general.

Money talks.

Carmelo Anthony, Phil Jackson meet to hash out their differences

And a lucrative contract is music to the ears of the NBA players, regardless of who is in charge.

In today’s NBA, it is financially beneficial for free agents to re-sign with their own teams. Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies is the best example. Chris Paul, who will be one of the more attractive free agents on the market this summer, faces a similar situation. Plenty of teams will want Paul, but only one can make him the best offer: the Clippers.

The big-name players that do leave — LeBron James and Kevin Durant — make the jump in order to place themselves in a better position to win a title. Durant took less money from the Golden State Warriors, but that is the price for joining a team that went to back-to-back NBA Finals and is coming off a record 73-win season.

Jay Z revived Jackson's "posse" comment while presenting James with the SI Sportsperson of the Year award on Monday.

Jay Z revived Jackson’s “posse” comment while presenting James with the SI Sportsperson of the Year award on Monday.

(Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Winning makes a team and a city more attractive. And there is no denying that at this point in the season Jackson is making the Knicks a more desirable place for potential free agents. And that is mostly due to one player: Kristaps Porzingis.

Metta World Peace: Tension between Carmelo, Phil good for Knicks

Carmelo is a still a proven scorer who has played well this season. But when you’re looking at the Knicks long-term, Porzingis is a 7-foot-3 beacon of light. What point guard wouldn’t want to run pick and rolls with Porzingis during the prime years of his career? We already know the name of one such point guard, and that’s Derrick Rose.

There will be more. The best players draw great players to them. Plus, the Knicks have New York City and Madison Square Garden as added perks.

One silly comment from Phil Jackson won’t change that. It makes for a good story but it’s not entirely accurate. Money speaks loudest in the NBA. Jay Z and LeBron know that better than anyone.

Phil’s got 99 problems but attracting free agents isn’t one.

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