On Wednesday, the New York Knicks and Phil Jackson mutally agreed to part ways, ending a rocky marriage of more than three years. The relationship was not only a complete boondoggle on the court, going 90-171, but also turned into a financial disaster for the franchise.
When owner James Dolan agreed to pay Jackson $12 million a year in March 2014, it was, by far and away, the largest deal ever given to a team executive and remained so until this day.
Defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein became a not-so-close second when, right before the Cubs won the title for the first time in 108 years, the team gave him a five-year deal worth nearly $10 million a year.
What makes Wednesday morning’s breakup in New York so ridiculous — aside from the fact that the decision wasn’t made before last Thursday’s draft — is that Dolan picked up the final two years of Jackson’s option earlier this year.
Dolan isn’t a stranger to paying for nothing, in case you need a refresher:
President: Phil Jackson
Go-away money: $20.5 million
Jackson signed on to a five-year, $60 million contract that was broken up into two parts — three years and two years. It’s not exactly clear when the option was picked up — ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Ian Begley reported in April that the deal was done — but we know his contract started in mid-March of 2014. Getting paid at a rate of $1 million per month means he worked for $3.5 million of the last $24 million that was picked up. That’s assuming Jackson gets it all after the split, which he should as long as everything was signed: that translates into a $20.5 million severance check.
Head coach: Larry Brown
Go-away money: $18.5 million
Larry Brown signed a five-year, $51 million deal to coach the Knicks in 2005. But after the Knicks went a franchise worst 23-59, Brown was fired. Brown had hoped to get the remaining $41 million, plus $12.5 million in damages, but walked away with an $18.5 million settlement, meaning the Knicks paid Brown $28.5 million total, or $1,239,130 per win.
Player: Allan Houston
Paid not to play: $32.4 million
Allan Houston had a guaranteed contract, which by all accounts was one of the worst contracts of all time: a six-year deal in 2001 worth $100 million. Houston was hurt the final three years of his deal in which he collected more than $53 million. But since we’re talking about getting paid to do nothing here, we are tasked with adding up how much the Knicks paid him after his last game on the court (Jan. 19, 2005). That number is a total of $32,380,335 for the rest of the 2004-05 season and the 2005-06 season in which he didn’t play but was paid more than $19 million. This of course created the “Allan Houston Rule,” which allowed teams to pay off a player without it counting against the luxury tax.