Phil Jackson has addressed the idea of coaching the Knicks twice since taking over as president.
In an interview with TMZ, Jackson was asked if it would be better for the Knicks if he were on the sideline as opposed to in the front office.
"Probably so, but I can't do it,” he said. “Not [because it's] part of the contract, [but because] it's part of my physical capabilities."
In early April, Jackson was asked if he had completely ruled out the idea of coaching the Knicks.
“I have no intention of coaching,” he said.
Now that he’s fired Mike Woodson, the smart money says Jackson will hire Steve Kerr to be his first head coach. It’s highly unlikely Jackson will take the bench at this point. But there are several reasons Jackson, if he’s physically capable, should at least consider coaching the team.
Below, we present three of them:
1. His impact on Melo: As with most issues involving the Knicks, it’s important to view Jackson’s coaching through the prism of Carmelo Anthony's free agency. It's fair to assume Anthony would be thrilled with the idea of playing for Jackson. He's already expressed a healthy respect for Jackson's basketball IQ and accomplishments. Anthony's also said again and again that winning will be his top priority in free agency. If that is true -- and we have no reason to believe it isn’t -- then who better to play for than Jackson, who has won an NBA record 11 titles?
2. He's the best candidate available: No offense to Kerr, but even he’d agree with the following statement: Phil is the Knicks' best option as coach. Put aside the fact he’s won 11 titles as a head coach for a second; Jackson has shown an ability to get through to elite players that few other coaches possess. So who better to get Anthony to break through to the "next level" that Jackson has talked about than Jackson himself? And then there's this: one of the criteria for the Knicks’ coaching search is finding a coach with knowledge of the triangle offense. Who better than Jackson, who taught it to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant?
3. Avoiding an awkward situation: As my colleague Ian O’Connor points out so well in this column, the next coach of the Knicks is going to have to work in the shadow of Jackson. And that’s no easy task. Every mistake will be viewed through the context of Phil. Every loss will leave some fans and analysts wondering: Would things be better if Jackson was coaching? Each losing streak will cause some fans to root for Jackson to take over. They may do so during games with the same "We want Phil" chant that was heard in Los Angeles in recent seasons.
Those aren’t easy circumstances for any coach to handle, let alone one who hasn’t coached before. That kind of awkward situation can be avoided if Jackson takes over as coach.
One thing worth noting when thinking about the possibility of Jackson taking over: A source told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne in early March that Jackson would be open to the possibility of coaching for a short period of time if it were necessary. But there is no indication that Jackson has given any thought to coaching at this point. So there’s no reason to expect him to take over for 2014-15. Still, it’s something that he should at least consider.
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