The Knicks and Phil Jackson swung and missed on Steve Kerr. So where do they go from here? Let's take an early look at some of the possibilities:
Kurt Rambis: Jackson’s long-time assistant certainly knows the triangle and already has a strong working relationship with Jackson. It should be noted: Rambis won a total of 35 games in two seasons while coaching the Timberwolves (2009-10 to 2010-11). Does Rambis have enough name recognition to satisfy the Knicks’ fan base? The same question could be asked of long-time Jackson assistant Jim Cleamons.
Derek Fisher: The veteran guard has a strong knowledge of the triangle offense, having won five championships while playing for Jackson in Los Angeles. Would he jump to the Knicks’ bench after retiring at the end of the season? Some believe Fisher has his eye on becoming an executive. How would he fare as a first-year coach in New York?
Phil Jackson: Jackson has said recently that he has no plans to coach. But, as recently as two seasons ago, he reportedly wanted to coach the Lakers. So the idea that Jackson could change his mind on this isn’t out of the realm of possibility, especially after he missed out on Kerr. Lakers president and Zen Master girlfriend Jeanie Buss tried to convince Phil to coach last month. You can be sure that some Knicks fans hope she makes another run at it.
Tyronn Lue: Guard played for Jackson in Los Angeles, worked for the Celtics and has served as an assistant coach with the Clippers. He’s believed to be well-liked among players and would have a strong knowledge of the triangle. Would the name be big enough to satisfy the Knick fan base? Also, it’s worth wondering how Lue would handle the spot light that comes with coaching at the Garden in his first year as head coach.
Brian Shaw: Shaw has strong ties to Jackson and a strong knowledge of the triangle offense. One problem here? Shaw is under contract with the Nuggets. He just finished his first season in Denver, so the Knicks would need to offer the Nuggets compensation to acquire him. Another problem? Shaw told the Denver Post on Thursday that he would decline Jackson's offer if the Zen Master came to him about the Knicks' job. Nonetheless, sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne that Jackson intends to explore whether the Nuggets are in any way amenable to releasing Shaw from his contract in exchange for some form of compensation.
Fred Hoiberg: ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reported Thursday that the Knicks will consider Hoiberg, the current Iowa State head coach, for their opening. Hoiberg has never played under Jackson but has considerable experience as an NBA player and executive. One reason that it might be tough to land him? Hoiberg recently got a raise from Iowa State. Sources tell Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne that Hoiberg has rebuffed feelers from the NBA, including a strong push from the Minnesota Timberwolves to take over from the retiring Rick Adelman within the last month.
Mark Jackson: Phil Jackson hasn’t yet shown a willingness to pursue candidates whom he doesn’t have a prior relationship with. If he decides to break free from that criteria, Phil Jackson should put a call in to Mark. Mark Jackson was let go by Golden State reportedly over clashes with ownership. No matter where you stand on that soap opera, it’s tough to question Jackson’s on-court results. He led the Warriors to consecutive playoff berths and a 51-win season. Jackson, a former Knick and St. John’s star, would probably be warmly welcomed by the Knicks fan base. Something else to consider: a source with knowledge of the situation said free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony would embrace the opportunity to play for Jackson.
Jeff Van Gundy: Van Gundy needs no introduction to Knicks fans. But again, to pursue the ex-Knicks coach, Jackson would have to be OK with going after a guy with whom he has no prior relationship. Van Gundy, obviously, would be well-received by the Knicks’ fan base (not that this should be a major factor). But would a coach with Van Gundy’s status seek some degree of personnel control? If so, could he get it from Jackson?
Luke Walton: Sources with knowledge of the Knicks' coaching search told Stein and Shelburne that the most likely scenario remains that Phil will hire a younger coach that he can mentor and one that he has worked previously with. Walton, 34, fits that mold, though he has never coached in the NBA. Walton worked as a developmental coach this season with the D-League's L.A. D-Fenders while also doing Los Angeles Lakers studio work. He played under Jackson in Los Angeles for seven seasons and won two titles.
Tom Thibodeau: The Bulls coach is currently under contract. But several teams have reportedly asked the Bulls for permission to talk to Thibodeau. Should Jackson do the same? Thibodeau has established himself as one of the top coaches in the NBA by willing the injury ravaged Bulls to the playoffs in the past two seasons. He worked in New York as an assistant under Van Gundy and there were rampant rumors during the season that Thibodeau would end up with the Knicks next season. That was before Jackson took over. Should Phil consider making a run at Thibodeau.
Bill Cartwright: Cartwright has already interviewed with Jackson for a possible assistant coach's job. He won three titles while playing for Jackson and is clearly well-versed in the triangle offense. But Cartwright's record as a head coach isn't great. He went 51-100 in three seasons as Chicago's head coach. He was let go early in the 2003-4 season.
Question: Who do you think Phil Jackson should pursue next? Let us know in the comments section below.
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