One of Phil Jackson's first deals as Knicks president was also his biggest mistake


It's tough to be a Knicks fan. This latest revelation from Phil Jackson won't make it any easier.

The Knicks president told Charley Rosen of Today's Fastbreak he passed on the chance to add current Celtics forward Jae Crowder in a huge 2014 trade centered around Tyson Chandler. Oops. He called the move his "biggest mistake."

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"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," Jackson said. "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 Crowde


To be clear, the Celtics were not involved in that particular trade. Boston sent New York the second-round pick that became Early during the 2013 NBA Draft as part of a deal that netted the Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk. The Knicks had the option to take Crowder from the Mavs in the trade Jackson described, in which case Crowder would have never gone to the Celtics in the trade that gave the Mavs a failed experiment with Rajon Rondo.

But let's push all the minutiae aside. Jackson had the opportunity to grab Crowder. At the time, no one envisioned Crowder becoming a player capable of scoring 14.2 points per game like he did this past season with the Celtics. Crowder has developed nicely under coach Brad Stevens and become a huge bargain on the five-year, $35 million deal he signed last summer.

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However, the Knicks certainly could have used a defender capable of guarding multiple positions. Crowder's versatility and toughness on that end of the floor was enough to take a chance on him in the trade, even if Jackson didn't believe he would develop into a competent scorer.

And then there's the Melo theory. Crowder could have easily slid into the small forward spot with Anthony at the four and, in the Knicks' current configuration, Kristaps Porzingis now at the five. Let's throw in Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee in the backcourt, and that's actually a pretty fun lineup.

Early has only played in 56 games for the Knicks over two seasons, and the other players in the trade failed to make a real impact. Add it all up, and Jackson has a huge swing and a miss on his résumé. We can at least give credit to him for admitting it.

That still won't make the folks at Madison Square Garden feel much better when they see a Crowder highlight pop up on the Jumbotron.

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