Top Coaches NY Knicks Should Replace Mike Woodson with

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIIApril 2, 2014

Top Coaches NY Knicks Should Replace Mike Woodson with

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    After a disappointing season and the hiring of Phil Jackson, the New York Knicks will almost certainly be parting ways with Mike Woodson this summer, opening up a vacancy at head coach.

    Unless they are willing to dip into the college ranks, options are limited for New York in its search for a new head coach, but a few experienced guys who are either unemployed or planning to leave their current jobs could fit the bill.

    Having Jackson in place as president could be a blessing when it comes to convincing a new coach to join the team, but at the same time, knowing that he's potentially going to be a major influence on the system may be a deterrent to some who want more control.

    Let's take a look at the top realistic NBA coaches who could replace Woodson next season, focusing on how their skill set matches the Knicks' needs and whether a relationship with Jackson could work.

Steve Kerr

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    Since the hiring of Phil Jackson, no name has been mentioned more in relation to the Knicks' head coaching job than Steve Kerr.

    While he has no experience as a head coach, he had a successful four-year run as the Phoenix Suns' general manager and has long been one of the league's best TV analysts since his retirement from playing.

    His relationship with Jackson, who coached him with the Chicago Bulls, makes this an understandable move, especially given that Kerr can share his front-office experience with Jackson, while Jackson will always be there to help on the coaching side.

    It's not ideal to have the two most important non-players in the organization in roles they've never been in before, but Kerr seems to have the kind of basketball mind that can handle a coaching role, especially given that he spent a large chunk of his playing career under the tutelage of either Jackson or Gregg Popovich.

    At 48 years old, Kerr is still young for a coach, and hiring him would give the Knicks a chance to set foundations for long into the future. Jackson won't be here forever, but if he pans out, Kerr could potentially be a contributor for decades, along with Allan Houston, who is being groomed as a general manager in the D-League.

    Understandably, there are plenty of question marks given that Kerr has never coached before, but he will have no qualms with establishing Jackson's system and will give the Knicks a chance to start developing their own personnel for the first time in years.

Jerry Sloan

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    While Steve Kerr would be a long-term option who will be happy to take pointers from Phil Jackson in the short term, Jerry Sloan would be the exact opposite.

    He is already established in the NBA as a well-respected coach, and at 72 years of age, he would be unlikely to stay with the team too far into the future, given that he may have unofficially retired from coaching already.

    For the last year, he has been an adviser in the Utah Jazz front office, but if he's craving a return to action after a three-year absence, he may be willing to join forces with Jackson in New York.

    There could potentially be an issue with egos with two established coaches with different systems working together (albeit with one in the front office), but the amount of raw experience and basketball knowledge shared between the two at least has the potential to be converted into victories.

    Ultimately, this is an unlikely move, but given his success, it would be due diligence for the Knicks to at least think about making a move for Sloan.

Lionel Hollins

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    Lionel Hollins was let go after a fairly successful tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies, having being swept in the conference finals following a 56-win 2012-13 season.

    At the time, the Grizzlies felt he needed to go for the team to reach that next level, but with Memphis' record and standing in the West faltering in his absence, it looks like his presence helped the team to overachieve to an extent.

    He is a defensive-minded coach and may help to turn the Knicks' fortunes around on that end of the floor after Mike Woodson failed to carry on his success from the Atlanta Hawks.

    While Hollins did have success in Memphis, he only has five years of experience and is still at the sweet spot in his career where he understands the league but is still young and open enough to learn from the likes of Phil Jackson.

    The Grizzlies weren't known for their offensive proficiency with Hollins, which opens up an opportunity for the Knicks to adopt the triangle, while he handles defense and motivation.

    He isn't going to grab headlines like other coaches on this list, but he's a solid candidate who can contribute to the franchise's turnaround.

Tom Thibodeau

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    It's an unlikely scenario, but if Tom Thibodeau were to leave the Chicago Bulls this summer following the Luol Deng trade and years of disagreement with the front office, New York could be a potential destination.

    He has earned a reputation as an elite head coach during his time in Chicago but has done so with little help from management, which has refused to hit the luxury tax—to the point that the team traded Deng and let go of almost every member of the impressive bench in 2012.

    At the same time, though, Thibodeau has a strong relationship with his players and at this point has a much better shot at the title with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and company than he does in New York, where things are still uncertain.

    In terms of fit, the mix of his defense and Phil Jackson's offensive system has the potential to be a perfect combination, but it still seems unlikely that he'd jump ship, even if he is still angry at the front office.

    Ironically, Thibodeau was an assistant for the Knicks between 1996 and 2003, and letting him go is just one of many regrets the franchise should have from the early 2000's, not that anyone could have predicted the heights he would eventually reach at the time.

    Having seen what he's done with a decimated roster, the Bulls are unlikely to let Thibodeau go so easily, but it is worth considering, given the rumors that surfaced this year, per the New York Post.

Mark Jackson

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    Like Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson is currently employed, but he could be leaving this summer for very different reasons.

    For the most part, he has been impressive during his stint with the Golden State Warriors, but expectations were high after the addition of Andre Iguodala, and the team doesn't appear to have improved significantly from 2012-13.

    Knowing his relationship with the players, the Warriors will likely wait and see what happens in the playoffs before making a decision, but an early exit could force their hand if they want to get the best out of their talented roster.

    It would be questionable for New York to make a move for someone who might be deemed undesirable in Golden State, but the Warriors may well be making a mistake if they let Jackson go, and the Knicks could capitalize on that.

    He is the type of fiery personality that can light a fire under these Knicks, and he could grow into a more refined coach with Phil Jackson behind him.

    Jackson, of course, is a former Knicks point guard, and could benefit from the same sentimentality that brought Phil to New York and has kept the likes of Allan Houston and Larry Johnson involved in various capacities.

    There are safer options for the Knicks, which makes this an unlikely move, but it's easy to picture a successful team in New York with Jackson on the bench.