- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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If you’re one of the many Knicks fans pining for Phil Jackson to hire ex-Knick Mark Jackson as the next head coach at Madison Square Garden, we have some good news for you.
The Zen Master is “open” to talking to Mark Jackson about the Knicks’ opening, sources tell ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne.
Phil Jackson’s preference, though, is to hire a coach who he’s worked with in the past, either as a player or as an assistant, Stein and Shelburne report.
That’s why names like Derek Fisher, Kurt Rambis, Luke Walton and Tyronn Lue are mentioned as potential head coaching candidates.
Jackson hadn’t shown a proclivity to go after anyone he hasn’t had a prior relationship with. But after being spurned by Steve Kerr, it appears his thinking may have changed.
As Stein and Shelburne reported on Sunday night: Jackson has limited options at his disposal after missing out on Kerr. And that could prompt the coach to start looking outside of his inner circle for the next Knicks’ coach.
That’s where Mark Jackson comes in. Mark Jackson and Phil Jackson have no prior relationship, so the Zen Master would have to be comfortable hiring someone he doesn’t have a prior relationship with to bring Jackson into the fold.
It’s worth noting that Mark Jackson showed over the past two seasons that he can be a fantastic coach in the NBA.
He led the Warriors to back-to-back playoff appearances and a 51-win season in 2013-14. Without injured starter Andrew Bogut, Golden State took the Clippers to seven games in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
But the Warriors fired Jackson shortly after their season ended, reportedly over clashes with management.
Mark Jackson is currently working for ESPN as an NBA game analyst. He signed a multi-year contract, but ESPN analysts in the past have taken head-coaching jobs while in the midst of their terms working for the network.
So Jackson’s ESPN work is not believed to preclude him from taking a head-coaching job.
"There are some great jobs available," said Jackson, who was fired by the Warriors earlier this month. "... I am excited about the next chapter in my life and what lies ahead. We'll see what happens."
As of Monday morning, Jackson hadn’t been contacted by the Knicks. Phil Jackson is in no hurry to hire a coach, sources told Stein and Shelburne. He is content to wait until the Thunder completes its season so he can talk to Derek Fisher, Stein and Shelburne report.
But if he is indeed willing to look outside of his inner circle for the next Knicks coach, Mark Jackson may be getting a phone call.
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