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The New York Knicks are trying to complete a deal with TNT's Steve Kerr that would install him as their new coach after the first round of the playoffs, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the intention of new Knicks president Phil Jackson is to secure Kerr as his first coaching hire by early May, which would theoretically soften the blow for the announcer's current employer to withstand losing its No. 1 analyst in the midst of the playoffs.
|The Knicks hope to hire Steve Kerr as coach by the end of the playoffs' first round, sources told ESPN.|
It remains to be seen whether Kerr is willing to make the jump so quickly.
Sources say Jackson has made significant progress in his longstanding plan to convince Kerr that the time is right to make the jump from broadcasting to coaching and accept one of the league's most high-profile jobs despite having no prior bench experience.
There has been considerable speculation since the playoffs began that the delay also stems from Kerr waiting to see what other jobs might open depending on playoff results.
NBA coaching sources have maintained for weeks that the Golden State Warriors have strong interest in Kerr should they elect to part ways with Mark Jackson after a 51-win season, given Kerr's strong relationships with Warriors owner Joe Lacob, son Kirk Lacob (who works in Golden State's front office) and Warriors president Rick Welts, with whom Kerr worked closely in Phoenix.
But sources repeated that the Knicks, because of the former Chicago Bulls guard's close relationship with Jackson, are the clear front-runners to land Kerr.
Sources say that the opportunity to be mentored by the winningest coach of all time, along with Kerr's deep fondness for Jackson, have established New York as Kerr's most likely landing spot.
In contrast to the larger skepticism around the league about Jackson's ability to lead the Knicks back to contention despite having no prior front-office experience, Kerr has expressed confidence that his former coach will be a hit in his new line of work.
If the Knicks were to miss out on Kerr, coaching insiders have struggled to pinpoint where Jackson would turn next, given his small circle of confidantes and the fact that no one else available from Jackson's circle would clearly appear to meet his stated desire to hire "a personality" who has "charismatic appeal" and a "forward-looking idea about the game."
A league source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that Bill Cartwright has interviewed for a position on Phil Jackson's coaching staff. Like Kerr, Cartwright played for Jackson while with the Bulls. The New York Daily News earlier reported news of the interview.
Kerr and Jackson met twice over the weekend to discuss the job.
"We will keep talking," Kerr said Sunday before working Game 4 of the Toronto-Brooklyn series. "There is a lot to cover on both sides. This was the first time we've talked about the job. It just opened up last week. We've got a lot of things to discuss."
Kerr would not address how he feels about the team's roster and what appeals to him about the possibility of coaching the Knicks, who fired Mike Woodson shortly after their season ended. But Kerr reiterated his interest in becoming a head coach to reporters and acknowledged that coaching the Knicks and working for Jackson intrigues him.
"How could it not?" he said. "It's the Knicks and Phil Jackson, my coach. I would be crazy not to look into it."
Kerr said both he and Jackson have a lot of questions for each other pertaining to the job that still need to be discussed. Kerr served as general manager of the Suns from 2007 to 2010 but has never coached at any level.
"I know Phil [said] we shared the same space, which I think is well said," Kerr said when asked if he'd have to use the triangle offense if he coaches the Knicks. "We share a lot of the same philosophies. I learned a lot of my basketball from him and Tex Winter.
"It is safe to say that we have a lot of the same ideas. As far as getting into the details of the triangle and that sort of thing, I am not going to expand on that. Obviously there is a strong connection between us and our beliefs."
If the parties can complete a deal, Kerr would join Jackson as the Knicks' lead recruiters in trying to persuade free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony to stay in New York. Anthony will become a free agent July 1 if, as expected, he opts out of his contract.
Kerr, though, resisted all questions Sunday about the Knicks' roster.
"Those are details that have to be private," Kerr said. "Those are things that Phil and I are going to discuss further, all kinds of things, organizationally, personnel-wise, but those discussions are all private."
ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk and Ian Begley contributed to this report.