This finally could be the week when Phil Jackson hires a head coach.
This time, Jackson had better get his man. Simply put, if Fisher says no to the Knicks and opts to continue playing, or just doesn’t find coaching at the Garden appealing, Jackson will really be hurting to find a coaching candidate from his triangle tree whom he can sell to the players and the fan base.
The idea of Fisher becoming the next Doc Rivers or Mark Jackson or Jason Kidd is certainly much more appealing than bringing in a Kurt Rambis, Rick Fox or Luke Walton.
Fox recently told NBC Sports Radio that he is a candidate for the Knicks coaching job.
Is it possible that if Fisher says no, Phil could take a look at Jeff Van Gundy or Jackson? The fans would certainly love that, but I still doubt it would happen.
This is Phil Jackson's first coaching hire, his first chance to put his biggest stamp yet on the organization and begin the process of executing his vision for turning around the Knicks. He is going to want someone from his circle -- which he made clear is “a big circle.” The Zen Master is going to want to groom his own coaching star in the making, as Pat Riley has done with Erik Spoelstra down in Miami.
Steve Kerr and Fisher might be Jackson's two biggest stars-in-waiting from his coaching tree.
In my mind, Fisher very well could be better than Kerr. He might not have had the playmaking ability or Hall-of-Fame vision Kidd had as a player (the vision certainly has helped Kidd as a coach), but Fisher has made a ton of big shots in the playoffs and knows how to perform under pressure. He knows what it takes to win, having won five championships with the Lakers, a couple of them as a starter.
He has been through playoff battles with Jackson and knows as well as anyone what Jackson wants and expects. He also has experienced all sorts of drama (he played with Shaq and Kobe) and can handle the gamut of personalities and manage stars (playing with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook).
Players around the league respect Fisher and teammates loved him -- another aspect that greatly benefited Kidd with his players during his rookie coaching season. Carmelo Anthony has faced Fisher enough to know and respect him, which should benefit Jackson next month when he is trying to convince Melo to stay.
But Jackson can’t let this Fish slip away like Kerr. He needs to get this done, even if it may mean overpaying for him. Because after Fisher, the triangle options are considerably less appealing, no matter how big Jackson says his circle is.