- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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About an hour after after the last game of the Knicks' miserable season, J.R. Smith took some time to reflect on the uncertainty surrounding his coach.
"He's in a tough situation," Smith said of Mike Woodson. "It's a situation that he's been in all year. Pretty much not knowing his place and where he's going to be; whether he's going to be here, whether he's not going to be here. I think it's a tough circumstance to deal with and I just hated that it had to be him because he's a great person and a great coach."
Nothing's official yet. But there is widespread speculation that Knicks president Phil Jackson will fire Woodson in the coming days. Woodson is under contract for next season, but the coach seemed to be resigned to his fate on Wednesday.
"Is it fair to let me go? I don't think so. Again, I don't make that decision. That's got to come from the top," the coach said Wednesday.
Let's assume that Jackson decides to let Woodson go. What happens next? Below, we take a look at three guys we think Jackson would strongly consider hiring as the Knicks' next coach:
Steve Kerr: Several reports, including one from ESPN.com's Marc Stein, state that the job is Kerr's if he wants it. So Kerr has to decide if he wants to leave the comfort of the TNT studio for the cauldron of coaching in New York. Kerr and Jackson remain close. As a player, Kerr won three titles while playing under Jackson in Chicago. Thanks to those years learning from Jackson, Kerr is intimately familiar with the triangle offense. He's also expressed an interest in coaching.
Brian Shaw: Shaw, the Denver Nuggets coach, is also close with Jackson. He won three titles with the Zen Master in Los Angeles and later served as a scout and assistant coach for the Lakers while Jackson was the coach.
Shaw is well-schooled in the triangle offense but he inked a three-year deal to coach the Nuggets last spring. So the Knicks will need to give Denver compensation if they hope to hire Shaw, unless he gets let go by the Nuggets. That's unlikely to happen though.
Phil Jackson: Jackson said as recently as two weeks ago that he has no plans to coach the Knicks. But if his coaching search doesn't yield a desirable candidate, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for Jackson to take the bench next season.
A source told ESPN LA's Ramona Shelburne in early March that Jackson would be open to the possibility of coaching for a short period of time if it was necessary.
Dark-horse candidates: Derek Fisher, Mark Jackson, Kurt Rambis
Up now: Woodson believes he's the best man to coach the Knicks next season.
The Knicks inked Lamar Odom to a two-year deal, with an ungauranteed option for next season.
Let us know which Knicks you'd keep and which you'd dump heading into next season.
Question: If Phil Jackson fires Mike Woodson, who should he hire as the Knicks' next coach?
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