Knicks' search beyond Steve Kerr

Updated: April 23, 2014, 7:45 PM ET
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks president Phil Jackson said Wednesday that he will open up his coaching search beyond Steve Kerr but acknowledged that he and Kerr have a strong "philosophical connection."

Jackson expects to talk to Kerr "later this month" about coaching the Knicks. Kerr is believed to be the front-runner in the team's coaching search at this point.

There has been speculation that Jackson himself would take over as Knicks coach. He said Wednesday that Jeanie Buss, his fiancee and the Los Angeles Lakers' president and part-owner, tried to persuade him to coach the team last week, but he declined.

"I've made up my mind on that. Willful in that regard. Right now I know physically what I can do," Jackson said. "That's something I don't think physically that I can do."

Jackson and Kerr have been close since Kerr won three titles playing under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls. Jackson said he and Kerr, the former Phoenix Suns GM who currently serves as a TNT analyst, talked about coaching philosophy as recently as January.

[+] EnlargePhil Jackson
AP Photo/Mark LennihanPhil Jackson said that the Knicks' head-coaching search will extend beyond Steve Kerr.

"We meet very similar space about coaching in a lot of ways. I know philosophically, we have a strong connection," Jackson said. "Whether he's able to take a job like this, I don't know. I'll get in the conversation with him later on this month and talk to him about it, and see where he's at as far as his desire to coach."

Regarding the idea that Jackson coach the team himself, the 68-year-old said it would be a "lower risk" if he took over because of his track record. Jackson has won an NBA-record 11 titles as a head coach.

"A do-what-you-know-best type of thing," Jackson said in reference to coaching the Knicks.

But he denied any interest.

"If there's anyone who can encourage me to do anything, it's Jeanie Buss," Jackson said with a smile. "But I was able to withstand her arguments the whole time."

Jackson also addressed Carmelo Anthony's pending free agency.

Anthony has suggested that he would take a pay cut to remain with the Knicks. Jackson on Wednesday said he hopes the All-Star forward is "true to his word."

"I think [there is] a precedent that's been set," Jackson said of stars taking less money to join or remain with contending teams. "Because the way things have been structured now financially for teams is that it's really hard to have one or two top stars or max players, and to put together a team with enough talent, you've got to have people making sacrifices financially.

"So we hope that Carmelo is true to his word and we understand what it's going to take, and we will present that to him at that time."

Jackson cited Tim Duncan as an example.

"Tim Duncan making the salary he's making after being part of a dynasty -- not a dynasty, I wouldn't call San Antonio a dynasty -- a force, a great force," Jackson said, taking a subtle jab at the Spurs. "They haven't been able to win consecutive championships but they've always been there. San Antonio has had a wonderful run through Tim's tenure there as a player."

Jackson added that he will discuss with Anthony the idea of re-signing at a discounted rate as a way to attracting other free agents.

If he re-signs with the Knicks, Anthony can ink a five-year contract worth $129 million. If he signs with another team, the maximum he can earn is $95.8 million over four years.

Anthony suggested in February that he'd be open to signing a contract for less than the maximum allotment.

"Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I'd do it. I told people all the time, always say, 'If it takes me taking a pay cut, I'll be the first one on [Knicks owner] Mr. [James] Dolan's steps saying take my money and let's build something strong over here,' " Anthony said.

On Wednesday, Jackson was asked if he would consider it a "disaster" if Anthony did not re-sign after all that the Knicks gave up to acquire him in 2011. New York traded four rotation players and two first-round picks to land Anthony in a blockbuster three-team trade.

"I'm all about moving forward," Jackson said. "Just deal with what is and move forward. If it's in the cards, man are we fortunate. If it's not in the cards, man are we fortunate. We're going forward anyway."

If Anthony accepts less than a max contract to play for the Knicks this summer, it may not help the team add another free agent in the 2014 offseason.

Unless Anthony takes a significant pay cut, the team is expected to be over the salary cap thanks in part to commitments next season to Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million), Tyson Chandler ($14.6 million) and Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million).

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