Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jackson: Knicks Will Be in Playoffs

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Jackson: Knicks Will Be in Playoffs

Article excerpt

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- About 500 miles away, the Cleveland Cavaliers were debuting their new regime -- LeBron James, really -- while the Knicks were at their practice site putting Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and Steve Mills on a stage.

Just off the stage, a huge curtain hid the practice court where Knicks players -- no LeBron among them -- were working out together ahead of Tuesday's official start of camp. But that didn't stop Jackson from confidently assessing the talent on the Knicks roster and declaring they will be a playoff team this season.

"We believe that we're going to be a playoff team and then we don't know how far we'll be able to go," Jackson said. "We're hoping for the best."

The new leadership of Fisher and Jackson may be the most impressive change the franchise has made in the wake of the disappointing 37-win season that cost Mike Woodson his job as head coach.

Jackson coaxed Carmelo Anthony -- with the largest contract in franchise history -- to return, dealt away Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton and came up with a roster that still seems in flux. The Eastern Conference certainly didn't get easier with the Cavs now looked at as a frontrunner, the Bulls bolstered by the return of Derrick Rose and the addition of Pau Gasol, and teams like Atlanta, Washington and Charlotte improved. Jackson said he thinks teams will need to be above .500 to get a playoff spot this time.

Jackson pointed out he has been entrenched in New York for months, working on getting this right. And while he's not on the streets or in the subways too much, he still manages to hear from fans regularly who want to know when the Knicks will contend for a title.

"I get approached right on the street all the time by folks that are Knickerbocker fans, that want to know how long do we have to wait? We hope it's expedient," Jackson said, adding, regarding the Rangers, who share the building with the Knicks and reached the Stanley Cup final last season, "We have it right next door. …

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