Phil Jackson’s one front office hire as president of the New York Knicks was a good one, even if the guy’s a bit odd.New York Knicks president Phil Jackson is famous for his eccentricities and anti-social behavior. He doesn’t have many friends in the NBA. Clarence Gaines Jr. is one of them.
Like Jackson, Gaines isn’t exactly a social butterfly either.
Marc Berman of The New York Post reports that Gaines wore a dashiki to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago and sat alone in the bleacher as is his custom.
One NBA scout summed Gaines up well: “He’s a bit of an odd duck” but appropriately added, “he has our respect.” Gaines certainly deserves it.
Why wouldn’t he? Unlike Jackson, Gaines’ quirks are working for him. He learned from legendary Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause. Gaines, a scout with the Bulls, helped Krause build a dynasty that won six titles.
Per Berman, Gaines was out of the game for 14 years after Jackson’s departure from Chicago.
While Jackson feuds with Carmelo Anthony, he took some time out to the Post with some thoughts on Gaines.
“Clarence has a dogged nature to find out what makes a player tick,’’ Jackson wrote in an email Friday to The Post. “He says that when he watches a player, he has to be ‘moved’ to get intrigued by his talent.”
Gaines is the Knicks’ vice president of player personnel. He’s an expert at evaluating young talent.
During the nightmare 2014-15 season, Gaines lobbied for New York to sign Langston Galloway. The undrafted free agent was one of the few bright spots.
Jackson admits that Gaines was a huge part of the team drafting Kristaps Porzingis.
“His argument for Kristaps Porzingis convinced me to make that out-of-the-box choice,’’ Jackson admitted in the email.