In the same statement released by the Knicks, Jackson said: “The New York Knicks will always hold a special place in my heart. This team and this town launched my N.B.A. career. I will forever be indebted to them.”
He added: “I had hoped, of course, to bring another N.B.A. championship to the Garden. As someone who treasures winning, I am deeply disappointed that we weren’t able to do that. New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best — today and always.”
In recent months, Jackson had clashed with the team’s two star players: Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. It was the latest sign of Jackson’s troubled tenure with the organization.
Last season, as it became clear that the team was underperforming and had no chance of making the playoffs, Jackson publicly lobbied for Anthony to waive his no-trade clause — a clause that Jackson had agreed to give him when he re-signed the aging superstar to a five-year contract worth $124 million in 2014. Anthony resisted Jackson’s pleas, saying he wanted to remain in New York.
But more problems were brewing for Jackson. In April, Porzingis — the team’s 7-foot-3 power forward and a lone source of optimism for the Knicks’ beleaguered fan base — skipped his exit interview with Jackson at the end of the season. It was Porzingis’s way of broadcasting his frustration with the direction of the franchise.
It clearly annoyed Jackson, who went so far as to make Porzingis available in trade talks ahead of last Thursday’s N.B.A. draft. At one time, Porzingis had represented Jackson’s greatest triumph as an executive. After the Knicks selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Porzingis lived up to — and perhaps even exceeded — outsize expectations in his first two seasons with the team. Last season, he averaged 18.1 points and 7.2 rebounds a game and was clearly shaping himself into one of…