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Phil Jackson’s biggest administrative mistake with Knicks? Not taking Jae Crowder

08.28.16 at 6:17 pm ET
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Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder

Phil Jackson has made a lot of mistakes as president of the Knicks, with a list going on and on from botched trades to swing-and-miss free agent signings and draft picks to regretful decisions in choosing coaches.

This has all lead the Knicks to an abysmal 49 combined wins over the two full seasons he’s been in charge.

That said, there is certainly a lot of regrets he could choose from — and his biggest gaffe involves one of today’s most prominent members of the Celtics.

Speaking to Today’s Fastbreak’s Charley Rosen, Jackson discussed when he could’ve had Jae Crowder, but instead took a chance with a draft pick instead.

“I don’t consider hiring [then-head coach Derek Fisher] a mistake because he worked hard and got the guys to stay as positive as possible while the losses piled up,” Jackson said. “I think the biggest mistake I made was actually this…One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics. In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn’t get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo, so I took the pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder.

The 70-year-old added: “Anyway, for all of us, making mistakes are part of the learning process.”

The Knicks president does bring up a valuable point, however, that Crowder would have been in a tough spot to find playing time behind Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony. However from a production standpoint, Crowder would have been more valuable coming off the bench behind Anthony than Early has ever been in his NBA career.

After Jackson passed on Crowder, the small forward made his way to Boston via the Rajon Rondo trade that the troubled point guard to the Mavs during the 2014-15 season. Crowder finagled his way into the Celtics starting lineup during the 2015-16 season, starting every game he appeared in, and he’ll likely do the same this season.

To put it in perspective, Jackson ended up with someone who has spent quite a bit of time in the D-League and even played in the summer league this summer. He was also sidelined for most of the second half of 2016 after being shot in the knee outside of a strip club.

In that timeframe, Crowder became a quasi-star in Boston, playing in 73 games alone in 2015-16 (to Early’s 56 career NBA games) and averaged 14.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game over 31.6 minutes per game.

Read More: Cleanthony Early, Jae Crowder, Phil Jackson,
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