NBA Rumors: Phil Jackson and 3 Coaches Who Won't Replace Mike D'Antoni
Yesterday's surprise resignation by Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni opened the floodgates surrounding the NBA coaching rumor mill. Naturally, the first name to be mentioned by most outlets as a potential replacement for D'Antoni was former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
Jackson, owner of 11 NBA championship rings, once played for the Knicks and could be amenable to returning to the sidelines to coach them. But thus far, according to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, there has been no contact between him and the franchise making the possibility remote as of right now.
Several other names have been thrown around as possible replacements for D'Antoni, and a few of them are more dismissible than others. Here's a look at a couple coaches who won't be making their way to the Big Apple.
1. Jeff Van Gundy
Van Gundy might well provide the strongest evidence of truth behind the phrase, "you can't go home again."
After coaching the Knicks for parts of seven seasons from 1995-2002 and leading them to their last NBA Finals appearance, Van Gundy resigned, spent four years running the Houston Rockets, then settled nicely into a role as one of the league's premier color commentators.
Van Gundy's mantra is defense, defense, defense and really, could you see this Knicks roster buying into that? With Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Baron Davis all playing important roles, Van Gundy would likely lose whatever hair he has left trying to get this group to buy into his philosophy.
Van Gundy has a pretty cushy set-up at ESPN/ABC. If he's going to leave and coach again, it's not going to be for the headaches going back to New York would give him.
2. John Calipari
File this one under "For Now."
Calipari currently has the No. 1 team in college basketball preparing for an NCAA tournament run and said earlier in the week that he "has the greatest job in basketball at any level." But anyone who's ever followed Calipari knows that his word is worth basically nothing.
After three less than impressive seasons coaching the Nets (72-112), and given his penchant for wanting to be standing under the brightest lights, it's hard to imagine Calipari seeing this as anything less than a huge opportunity.
There are no lights brighter than in New York, and not only will coaching the Knicks give him a chance to return to the NBA and potentially fix his reputation in league circles as a failure, winning with the Knicks could well be a career-defining achievement.
3. Mike Woodson
It certainly is conceivable that interim coach Woodson leads the Knicks to a stout finish to their season, earns the support of the players and GM Glen Grunwald and gets himself a multi-year deal to stay on full time.
But don't count on it. Knowing owner James Dolan's propensity for flash over substance or logic (see the trade for Carmelo Anthony), it's tough to imagine him turning the team over to an also-ran like Woodson, who's never been out of the first-round of the playoffs as a head coach.
About the only chance Woodson has of staying on is if the Knicks win it all this year. And that's not going to happen.