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Can Phil Jackson save the Knicks?

On Tuesday, New York Knicks fans officially got the best news they've had all season. 

"If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, so we're gonna make it here." (Via New York Knicks)

Phil Jackson, the winningest coach in NBA history, has signed a five-year contract worth $12 million per year to be the New York Knicks president. Jackson is a 13-time champion who earned two NBA rings as a player and 11 more as a head coach. (Via Fox Sports / AOL)

But let's be honest, the New York Knicks have a lot of problems, and most of them can't be fixed with an attitude adjustment. 

For one, there's the lack of depth on the roster, and more important, the lack of draft picks to fix that very problem. Back in 2011, the Knicks gave up three 2014 draft picks, then last year gave away three more in trades. (Via Yahoo)

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As USA Today points out, "[The Knicks] focus on landing marquee talent in trades and free agency has forced them to neglect the draft and developing homegrown talent."

So with no draft picks, how does the "Zen Master" handle the problem? Well ...

"When Phil Jackson places a phone call to perspective free agents, they're going to take it and they're going to listen."

"I could see him rebuilding this team into a contender because of the cache and credibility that he instantly gives an organization." (Via ESPN)

With both NBA dynasties where Jackson was at the helm, he had a Hall of Fame floor general, specifically Michael Jordan in Chicago and Kobe Bryant in LA. But New York's only superstar may be leaving this summer. 

Carmelo Anthony can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, which has powered the rumor mill all season about whether Melo will stay or not. 

But when asked about Jackson's hiring, Carmelo said, "I'm a chess player, and that was a power move." He's also denied wanting to leave New York in the past. (Via Bleacher Report

But the general consensus on the biggest problem facing the New York Knicks is the man signing all the checks: New York Knicks owner James L. Dolan. 

"It's got to be top priority at all times: Keep James Dolan out of the office." (Via NBC)

The New York Times calls the future Jackson-Dolan relationship "more of the same: a nice honeymoon, followed by a relatively quick divorce."

But the man himself claims he's more than ready to turn over the reins. 

"These two men to my left are the experts in basketball. I am by no means an expert in basketball." (Via Deadspin)

While the New York Knicks are currently on a six-game winning streak, the team is still one spot from making the playoffs with a regular season record of 27-40. 

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  • No knot-tying demonstrations. No wood-carving advice. President Donald Trump went straight to starting a fire in a speech at a national Boy Scout gathering. Parents, former Scouts and others were furious after Trump railed against his enemies, promoted his political agenda and underlined his insistence on loyalty before an audience of tens of thousands of school-age Scouts in West Virginia on Monday night. 'Is nothing safe?' Jon Wolfsthal, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter, saying Trump turned the event into a 'Nazi Youth rally.' Trump, the eighth president to address the National Scout Jamboree, was cheered by the crowd, but his comments put an organization that has tried in recent years to avoid political conflict and become more inclusive in an awkward position. The knot-tying was left to Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who said on Twitter that his stomach was in knots over the president's over-the-top delivery. 'If you haven't watched it yet, don't,' Murphy said. 'It's downright icky.' The Boy Scouts' official Facebook page was barraged with comments condemning the speech. Several people posted links to the Scouts' policy on participation in political events — which sharply limits what Scouts should do. Boy Scouts are typically 10 to 18 years old. One woman wrote in disbelief that the Scouts started booing when Trump mentioned Obama. Trump noted from the podium that Obama did not personally attend either of the two national jamborees during his tenure. (Obama did address the 2010 gathering by video to mark the Scouts' 100th anniversary. The jamboree is typically held every four years.) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former president of the Boy Scouts, invited Trump to the gathering, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday. 'When all is said and done, those Boy Scouts, what they will remember from the jamboree in West Virginia is that the president showed up,' Nauert said. 'And that's a pretty incredible thing.' The pushback from Americans over the speech included members from both parties. 'I just don't think it was appropriate,' said Rob Romalewski, a Republican and retired information-technology expert from suburban New Orleans who attained the rank of Eagle Scout as a teenager and has worked with the Boy Scouts all his adult life. 'It just doesn't seem like he was talking to the boys,' Romalewski said. 'He was more or less just using it as an excuse to babble on.' Nancy Smith, a Democrat and elementary school teacher from Shelby Township, Michigan, said she won't encourage any of her six grandchildren to enter Scouting. Smith is asking for an apology from the national group. The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement after the speech that it does not promote any one political candidate or philosophy. On Tuesday, after questions about the blowback, the organization said that it 'reflects a number of cultures and beliefs.' 'We will continue to be respectful of the wide variety of viewpoints in this country.' Trump kicked off his speech by saying, to cheers from the boys, 'Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts? Right?' Yet much of what he had to say next was steeped in politics. Trump began to recite the Scout law, a 12-point oath that starts with a Scout being trustworthy and loyal. 'We could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that,' said the man who is alleged to have asked fired FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of loyalty. In his speech, Trump also jokingly threatened to fire Health Secretary Tom Price — an Eagle Scout who joined him on stage — if lawmakers do not repeal and replace Obama's health care law. He called Washington a 'swamp,' a 'cesspool' and a 'sewer.' He repeatedly trashed the media, directing the crowd's attention to the reporters in attendance. In one aside, he told the boys they could begin saying 'Merry Christmas' again under his watch. In another, he talked about a billionaire friend — real estate developer William Levitt — who sold his company, bought a yacht and led 'a very interesting life.' 'I won't go any more than that, because you're Boy Scouts, so I'm not going to tell you what he did,' Trump teased. Then he said he had run into the man at a cocktail party. The moral of Trump's tale was that Levitt 'lost momentum,' something he said they should never do. Levitt is often considered the father of postwar American suburbia, founding communities such as Levittown on New York's Long Island, but was criticized for refusing to sell to blacks. In the past few years, the Boy Scouts have retreated from the culture wars, dropping their ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders, and have tried harder to recruit minorities. Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and co-founder of Scouts for Equality, a nonprofit group that has pushed to end discrimination against gay and transgender people in Scouting, said Trump's remarks 'really harmed the Boy Scouts' ability to do that work, which is all about serving America.' 'The wrong speech at the wrong place at the wrong time,' Wahls said. ___ McGill reported from New Orleans. Associated Press writers Julie Bykowicz and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.
  • President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman will not be testifying Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as originally scheduled, after the committee rescinded its subpoena. The committee withdrew its subpoena for Paul Manafort late Tuesday after he agreed to turn over documents and to continue negotiating about setting up an interview with the panel. That's according to Taylor Foy, a spokesman for Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chairman. The committee also removed Donald Trump Jr. from the list of witnesses scheduled for Wednesday's public hearing. The panel has sought to talk with Manafort about a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in New York with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, among other issues including his foreign political work on behalf of Ukrainian interests.
  • The Senate's days-long debate on health care features a dynamic that's relatively rare on Capitol Hill. Genuine suspense. Debate kicked off Tuesday without an obvious endgame. Several Republicans voted to start debate but said the bill will have to be changed for them to vote to actually pass the legislation later this week. The amendment process promises to be extensive and freewheeling. And victory for Republicans and President Donald Trump is not guaranteed. The Senate has started off by taking up the House-passed bill — which doesn't have enough support to pass the Senate — and it'll take near-unanimity among Republicans for them to alter the measure. Right now, they're deeply divided. 'We obviously don't have consensus on where we ought to go,' said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. 'No matter what we pass it's not going to fix the whole problem.' Here's a primer on how to watch this week's Senate debate on repealing and replacing the Obama health law. ___ FAST-TRACK PROCESS First, the legislation is being debated under fast-track budget rules that allow it to pass on a simple majority instead of having to clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold required of other legislation. Debate is limited to 20 hours. Amendments, generally speaking, are unlimited — and can be offered after debate time has expired in a Washington ritual known as 'vote-a-rama.' That's when amendment after amendment is voted on in what could be an all-night session on Thursday. The first amendments get up to two hours of debate. During the voting marathon, debate is typically just two minutes. ___ AMENDMENTS GALORE Unlike other bills, which typically are debated in ways that limit senators' rights to offer changes known as amendments, the current bill is wide open. 'I suspect there will be literally hundreds of amendments,' said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. The first amendment was offered by GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. It is virtually identical to the version that passed the Senate in late 2015 that would repeal much of Obamacare and leave replacing it for later. It's sure to lose, even though it passed less than two years ago — when skeptics of repealing the law without a clear plan for replacing it were assured of former President Barack Obama's veto. Another McConnell amendment, likely to be swatted down by a parliamentary challenge by Democrats, includes the Senate's most recent 'repeal and replace' bill — scuttled last week for lack of support — along with separate provisions from Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio. Democrats are poised to offer dozens of amendments of their own. For instance, they could try to eliminate tax cuts rewarding investors and upper bracket earners, just for starters. One problem: Senators don't necessarily know how to draft amendments because they're unsure which bill they'll ultimately be amending. ___ PARLIAMENTARY PUZZLE The special fast-track process, called reconciliation in Washington-speak, comes with tricky rules. Amendments that are carefully crafted and fit within the rules can pass on a simple majority vote. But many amendments run afoul of the Senate's byzantine rules, which mean they can require 60 votes and effectively be blocked by Democrats. Among them is the so-called Byrd rule, named after former Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. It's complicated, but the Byrd rule disqualifies some of the GOP's ideas, such as a provision in the pending bill aimed at lowering premiums paid by younger, healthier consumers by allowing insurance companies to increase premiums paid by seniors. The Byrd rule generally blocks provisions that don't affect the federal budget — and blocks provisions whose changes to spending or taxes are 'merely incidental' to a larger policy purpose. If such provisions are inserted despite the Byrd rule, any individual senators can knock them out with a point of order. ___ MCCONNELL'S LAST OPTION At the very end of the debate, after dozens of votes on amendments and parliamentary challenges, majority Republicans can offer one, final substitute amendment. McConnell would probably be the author and it could represent one final grasp at consensus among fractured Republicans. McConnell's last gambit could offer Republican senators a difficult choice since rejecting it would probably doom the whole effort. But consensus among Republicans has eluded McConnell for weeks, so there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical he can succeed now. ___ BACK TO THE HOUSE — OR INTO CONFERENCE? If the Senate should manage to maneuver its way through this week's legislative labyrinth, the resulting bill could go back to the House for a vote that would send it directly to Trump for his signature. The other alternative would be to send the measure into official House-Senate negotiations known as a conference committee. Conference talks, insiders fear, could be a nightmare and invite balkanized Republicans to feud even more. In particular, tea party House Republicans and the Senate's more pragmatic GOP wing could be in for a fight.
  • Where the Senate Republican effort to demolish the Obama health care law ends up is anyone's guess, but early indications are the GOP will have a hard time replacing that statute with any sweeping changes. Senators planned to vote Wednesday on a Republican amendment repealing much of President Barack Obama's law and giving Congress two years to concoct a replacement. A combination of solid Democratic opposition and Republicans unwilling to tear down the law without a replacement in hand were expected to defeat that plan. Late Tuesday night, the Senate voted 57-43 to block a wide-ranging proposal by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell replacing Obama's statute with a far more restrictive GOP substitute. Those voting no included nine Republicans, ranging from conservative Mike Lee of Utah to Maine moderate Susan Collins, in a roll call that raised questions about what if any reshaping of Obama's law splintered Republicans can muster votes to achieve. The rejected amendment — the first offered to the bill — was centered on language by McConnell, R-Ky., erasing Obama's tax penalties on people not buying insurance, cutting Medicaid and trimming its subsidies for consumers. It included a provision by Ted Cruz, R-Texas, letting insurers sell cut-rate policies with skimpy coverage plus an additional $100 billion — sought by Midwestern moderates including Rob Portman, R-Ohio — to help states ease out-of-pocket costs for people losing Medicaid. GOP defectors also included Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, who faces a tough re-election fight next year, and usually steady McConnell allies Bob Corker of Tennessee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kansas' Jerry Moran. Before that defeat, President Donald Trump and McConnell snatched victory from what seemed a likely defeat and won a 51-50 vote to begin debating the GOP drive against Obama's Affordable Care Act, which sits atop the party's legislative priorities. In a day of thrilling political theater, Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie roll call after Sen. John McCain returned to the Capitol from his struggle against brain cancer to help push the bill over the top. There were defections from just two of the 52 GOP senators — Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkoswki — the precise number McConnell could afford to lose and still carry the day. All Democrats voted against dismantling the 2010 statute that looms as President Barack Obama's landmark domestic achievement. Leaders were openly discussing a 'skinny bill' repealing unpopular parts of the statute like its tax penalties on people not buying coverage — a tactic aimed chiefly at letting Senate-House bargainers seek a final compromise. McConnell was practically zen-like in his evaluation of the next steps, saying the Senate will 'let the voting take us where it will.' Asked what Republicans would do now that the dog had caught the car — an expression for someone who regrettably achieves a trying goal — Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said, 'We'll have to see if the car can survive.' Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said a final bill negotiated by the two GOP-led chambers would mean 'drastic cuts in Medicaid, huge tax cuts for the wealthy, no help for those with pre-existing conditions and tens of millions losing coverage.' Senators started 20 hours of debate on the bill Tuesday, though angry Democrats were burning time — not counted against that total — by requiring clerks to read amendments. At week's end, a 'vote-a-rama' of rapid-fire voting on a mountain of amendments was expected before moving to final passage — of something. 'Now we're all going to sit together and we're going to try and come up with something that's really spectacular,' Trump told reporters at the White House. He added, 'This is the beginning of the end for the disaster known as Obamacare.' That may prove a premature statement. Internal GOP differences remained over how starkly to repeal the law, how to reimburse states that would suffer from the bill's Medicaid cuts and whether to let insurers sell cut-rate, bare-bones coverage that falls short of the requirements. While pressure and deal-making helped win over vacillating Republicans to begin debate, they remained fragmented over what to do next. Several pointedly left open the possibility of opposing the final bill if it didn't suit their states. Even McCain, R-Ariz., who received a warm standing ovation and bipartisan hugs when he returned, said he'd oppose the final bill if it didn't reflect changes to help his state and lambasted the roughshod process his own party was using. He accused party leaders of concocting a plan behind closed doors and 'springing it on skeptical members, trying to convince them it's better than nothing, asking us to swallow our doubts and force it past a unified opposition. I don't think that is going to work in the end. And it probably shouldn't.' ___ Associated Press writers Erica Werner, Stephen Ohlemacher, Jill Colvin, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
  • A former Marine believed so strongly in the war against the Islamic State group that he secretly traveled to Syria, where he was killed this month while fighting for a Kurdish militia group. David Taylor, a 25-year-old former Florida resident, had kept his plans to join the Kurdish group a secret from his family and only told a high school friend, whom he swore to secrecy. Taylor's father said Tuesday that he didn't even know of his son's plans until after he had arrived in Syria last spring and was training with the group known as YPG. 'I got an email and he said, 'Pops, don't worry. I'm with the YPG,'' David Taylor Sr. told The Associated Press from his West Virginia home. 'He said, 'I'm doing the right thing. It's for their freedom.'' Taylor Sr. said when his son set his mind on something, he did it. 'There was no middle ground. He wasn't wishy-washy,' the father said. A Kurdish militia group released a video saying Taylor was 'martyred fighting ISIS' barbarism' on July 16. The U.S. State Department said in a statement that it was aware of reports of a U.S. citizen being killed while fighting in Syria but offered no further comment. Taylor's dad said the family was told about the death last weekend by a U.S. consular official. Taylor's high school friend emailed the father after he learned of the death. The friend said Taylor told him during a visit to St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, last February that he believed the Islamic State group needed to be stopped. 'One night he got drunk and told me of the atrocities he had witnessed in the Middle East during his time in the Marine Corps,' the friend, Alex Cintron, wrote in an email to Taylor's parents. 'He said to the effect that 'Isis was the bane of modern existence and needed to be stopped before they destroy any more lives and priceless works of human achievement,'' Cintron said in the email. Taylor's father shared the email with the AP on Tuesday. Cintron didn't respond to a message for comment sent via social media. Cintron said in the email that Taylor died from an improvised explosive device. The YPG video offered no details on how Taylor died. Taylor grew up in Ocala, Florida, about 80 miles northwest of Orlando. He attended college in Florida and West Virginia before joining the Marines. He was deployed in Afghanistan, Japan, South Korea and spent time in Jordan before he was discharged last year, David Taylor Sr. said. After his discharge, he came to the United States and visited family and friends in West Virginia, Philadelphia and Florida. Last spring, he asked his father to drive him to the airport because he had decided to visit Ireland, where his family has ancestral ties. Taylor Sr. received intermittent updates from his son about his travels in Europe until there was a period of silence for several weeks. Soon afterward, the elder Taylor received an email from his son, saying he had joined the Kurdish militia group. The consular official told Taylor Sr. that the YPG is paying to transport Taylor's body back to the United States. 'He loved his country. He loved democracy,' the father said. 'He had a mission, to go over there and advance democracy and freedom like we have it over here. It came at a horrible price.' ___ Associated Press writer Matt Yee in Washington contributed to this report.
  • Eager to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, the House has overwhelmingly backed a new package of sanctions against Moscow that prohibits President Donald Trump from waiving the penalties without first getting permission from Congress. Lawmakers passed the legislation, 419-3, clearing the far-reaching measure for action by the Senate. If senators move quickly, the bill could be ready for Trump's signature before Congress exits Washington for its regular August recess. The Senate, like the House, is expected to pass the legislation by a veto-proof margin. The bill also slaps Iran and North Korea with sanctions. The 184-page measure serves as a rebuke of the Kremlin's military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed President Bashar Assad. It aims to hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting Russian corruption, human rights abusers, and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports. 'It is well past time that we forcibly respond,' said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Trump hasn't threatened to reject the bill even though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior administration officials had objected to a mandated congressional review should the president attempt to ease or lift the sanctions on Russia. They've argued it would infringe on the president's executive authority and tie his hands as he explores avenues of communication and cooperation between the two former Cold War foes. But Trump's persistent overtures to Russia are what pushed lawmakers to include the sanctions review. Many lawmakers view Russia as the nation's top strategic adversary and believe more sanctions, not less, put the U.S. in a position of strength in any negotiations with Moscow. Trump's 'rhetoric toward the Russians has been far too accommodating and conciliatory, up to this point,' said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa. 'Russian behavior has been atrocious,' Dent said. 'They deserve these enhanced sanctions. Relations with Russia will improve when Russian behavior changes and they start to fall back into the family of nations.' Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said Congress 'is uncomfortable with any rapprochement with Moscow without getting some things for it.' But he said the legislation isn't intended to be a message to Trump. 'We're sending a message to Moscow,' Kinzinger said. 'But if the president had any intention of trying to give Vladimir Putin what he wants on certain areas, I think he'll think twice about it.' Heavy support for the bill from Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate has effectively scuttled the potential for Trump to derail the legislation. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders indicated Sunday the president would sign the sanctions bill. But on Monday, Sanders said Trump is 'going to study that legislation and see what the final product looks like.' Signing a bill that penalizes Russia's election interference would mark a significant shift for Trump. He's repeatedly cast doubt on the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia sought to tip the election in his favor. He's blasted as a 'witch hunt' investigations into the extent of Russia's interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow. According to the bill, Trump is required to send Congress a report explaining why he wants to suspend or terminate a particular set of the sanctions on Russia. Lawmakers would then have 30 days to decide whether to allow the move or reject it. 'There'll be no side deals or turning a blind eye to (Russia's) actions,' said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 House Democrat. The North Korea-related sanctions bar ships owned by the reclusive nation or by countries that refuse to comply with U.N. resolutions against Pyongyang from operating in American waters or docking at U.S. ports. Goods produced by North Korea's forced labor would be prohibited from entering the United States. The sanctions package also imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The measure would apply terrorism sanctions to the country's Revolutionary Guards and enforce an arms embargo. Democrats said the new sanctions on Iran don't conflict with the Iran nuclear deal A version of the sanctions legislation that only addressed Russia and Iran cleared the Senate nearly six weeks ago with 98 votes. Lawmakers have questioned whether the bill may hit a hurdle in the Senate, which hasn't yet fully considered the North Korea section of the bill. But Royce said he made specific procedural tweaks to get the bill passed and to Trump before Congress leaves town for a month. 'We cannot afford any more delay,' he said. The three House members who voted against the bill are Republican Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Justin Amash of Michigan and John Duncan of Tennessee. ___ Contact Richard Lardner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rplardner