Larry Brown and New York Knicks owner James Dolan are on the same wavelength.
Speaking on The Starting Lineup for SiriusXM NBA radio—special thanks to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck for passing along the transcription—the former NBA coach wondered aloud why Phil Jackson wasn't hired to coach the Knicks:
And I think, it’s just troublesome to me to bring in Phil Jackson, not that he won’t be great, but let him coach. You’re not going to make the Knicks better by living in LA and being there half the time and not talking to your coach.
But aside from that you don’t bring somebody in in the middle of the year and basically let Mike Woodson feel like he’s not even part of this. You’re still trying to make the playoffs. They were on a run. And I get tickled, when they win and Phil Jackson is in the stands he won the game. When they lose and he is in the stands Woody screwed up and didn’t call a timeout. I don’t get that. I haven’t figured this out. But my point is, they probably made a great hire and if that is a great hire, and he’s the greatest coach there is—which, I think a lot of people would agree with that—let him coach. That’s the way the Knicks get better and give Mike a chance to leave graciously.
In addition, Brown, per the New York Daily News' Frank Isola, eviscerated general manager Steve Mills:
Brown's defense of Mike Woodson is both rare and sensible. Woodson is widely considered a lame duck. His departure seems inevitable now that Jackson is the team president and likely interested in putting his own head coach in place.
Bowing out in favor of the 11-time coaching champion, though, would be the ultimate way to go. There is no shame in ceding control of anything to one of the greatest basketball minds ever.
Jackson, however, isn't in New York to coach. Brown speaks as if the Knicks must "let" Jackson replace Woodson, when really, it's the Zen Master who is not interested in returning to the sidelines.
When Jackson and Dolan first started speaking, a source told ESPN New York's Ian Begley the former rejected an offer to coach the Knicks. That account was reaffirmed during Jackson's introductory press conference, per Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling:
Later that same day, Dolan reiterated once again that Jackson is not in New York to coach the Knicks:
So, yeah...Jackson isn't going to coach the Knicks.
But Jackson apparently does have some idea of who should coach the team next season.
(Spoiler: Woodson is not on his list of potential candidates.)
TNT NBA analyst Steve Kerr and current Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher were both named by USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt as two of Woodson's possible replacements. Plenty of other coaching prospects, both realistic and whimsical, were being dropped well before Jackson arrived in New York as well.
While there is no definitive successor to Woodson's scalding-hot throne in place, an offseason coaching search is a virtual certainty.
At 33-45, the Knicks are unlikely to nab eighth place in the Eastern Conference, meaning they'll miss the playoffs for the first time of the Carmelo Anthony-Amar'e Stoudemire era. It will also be the first time 'Melo's team has ever missed the postseason.
Change has always been the one constant in New York, and more is guaranteed after a disappointing season like this. The Knicks were supposed to contend; they were supposed to chase a championship. Under Woodson's watch, they're on track to send the Denver Nuggets an invaluable lottery pick instead.
No one person—Woodson included—is responsible for the Knicks' current disaster. Their problems extend well beyond the reach of one player or coach.
Someone must be held responsible, though—multiple people, in fact. Expect Jackson to raze the Knicks' current personnel, both players and coaches, in an attempt to reinvent the franchise.
Maybe Woodson—and Brown—can find solace in knowing New York's embattled coach won't be the lone guilty party dismissed this offseason.
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