Analysis: Where do Knicks go from here?
May, 14, 2014
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks were hit with the stunning news on Wednesday night that Steve Kerr accepted a job to coach the Warriors.
Kerr was the leading candidate to take over the Knicks. So what happened? And what’s next?
We take a look below:
Who’s next: Jackson has shown that he’d like to pursue candidates he’s familiar with and candidates that have an intimate knowledge of the triangle offense. With that in mind, he could turn his attention to Brian Shaw. Shaw just finished his first season as head coach of the Denver Nuggets, so the Knicks would need to offer the Nuggets compensation to acquire him. Another issue with Shaw? He told the Denver Post on Thursday that he would decline Jackson's offer if he asked Shaw to coach the Knicks.
Jackson also could pursue Derek Fisher once Fisher’s run with the Oklahoma City Thunder is over. Jackson also may reach out to Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue. Lue played under Jackson in Los Angeles for two seasons.
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesPhil Jackson and the Knicks could now turn their attention to Brian Shaw.
Jackson is also close with former assistants Jim Cleamons and Kurt Rambis. But it’s hard to see The Zen Master bringing in one of those men as his first coaching hire. ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne reported late Wednesday night that the Knicks were "regrouping" after Kerr's surprise decision but sources told Shelburne that Fisher, Lue and Rambis will be considered for the job.
Here’s another name that you shouldn’t rule out: Phil Jackson. He said last month that he has no plans to coach the team. But these are different circumstances. He whiffed on Kerr, his first and only coaching target, after putting the full-court press on him.
So Jackson should at least consider coaching the team in 2014-15 while the Knicks look to revamp the roster in the summer of 2015.
Anyone else? If Phil Jackson decides to go outside of his inner circle, he should consider the likes of Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy. Jackson, a former Knicks player, was just let go by the Warriors due to reported clashes with ownership. But the former St. John’s standout proved that he can coach, leading Golden State to 51 wins in 2013-14.
Not that this should play a major role in Phil Jackson’s final decision, but Mark Jackson would undoubtedly be welcomed by the Knicks' fan base.
Another factor to consider: A source with knowledge of the situation said last month that Carmelo Anthony would embrace the opportunity to play for Mark Jackson. Anthony plans to test free agency in July. Bringing in a coach that he'd like to play for would certainly boost the Knicks' chances of keeping him.
Van Gundy’s resume needs no explanation. The ESPN analyst would also get a warm welcome from fans.
Another name Phil Jackson should consider if he wants to go outside of his circle: Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau is under contract with the Bulls, but multiple teams have reportedly requested permission to speak with the coach.
Again, if Jackson wants to go outside of his circle, Thibodeau should at least be considered.
The other factor was the contract.
As ESPNNewYork.com reported on Tuesday, the Knicks preferred to give Kerr no longer than a four-year deal. A source told ESPNNewYork's Ian O'Connor that the Knicks' best offer was four years for approximately $20 million, including incentives. It is unclear how many of those years they were willing to guarantee. Kerr was looking for a contract longer than that and got it from Golden State. He ultimately signed a deal worth $25 million over five years.
An interesting side note: A source told ESPNNewYork.com that one contract discussed early in negotiations was a five-year, $25 million deal. It's fair to assume now that the figure was coming from Kerr’s side. The Knicks weren’t interested in giving the TNT broadcaster, who has never coached before, a deal of that length. That reluctance may have cost Jackson his No. 1 coaching choice.
Something else that factored in: James Dolan.
A source with knowledge of the Warriors' thinking said Golden State would point out that other Knicks coaches who have worked under Dolan, including Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens and Mike D'Antoni, had either been fired or resigned.
The thought process behind pointing that out is this: If that happened to experienced coaches, then what will happen to Kerr, who has never coached before?
A source familiar with the process said on Wednesday night that this factored in to Kerr's decision.
Marv Albert, who is close to Kerr, told ESPNNewYork.com he thought the Kerr-Jackson partnership would only work if Dolan left the two alone. It's not a stretch to think Albert shared that same sentiment with Kerr at some point.
Kerr also has strong ties to Warriors president Rick Welts and owner Joe Lacob. His relationship with Phil Jackson was supposed to trump that, however. Instead, Jackson now has to turn to Plan B.
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