Report: Phil Jackson Eyes Bill Cartwright for Knicks Assistant Coaching Position

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Report: Phil Jackson Eyes Bill Cartwright for Knicks Assistant Coaching Position
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

New York Knicks president of basketball operations, Phil Jackson, is in the process of building a coaching staff, and he might be close to bringing a familiar face back to MSG.

Per Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, Jackson confidant and former Knicks big man, Bill Cartwright, has already interviewed for an assistant coach position.

"Bill wants to come work for the Knicks,'' a source close to Cartwright told Lawrence. 

Cartwright played his first eight seasons with the Knicks, making his first and only All-Star Team as a rookie in 1979-80. He was a key component of the Bernard King teams of the early '80s, before a foot injury cost him the entire 1984-85 season.

With their starting center on the shelf, New York lost enough games that year to fall in the 1985 draft lottery, hit the No. 1 overall pick and select Georgetown center Patrick Ewing.

Cartwright was traded to the Chicago Bulls in 1988 for another beloved Knick, Charles Oakley. He was the starting center for Phil Jackson's first three title-winning Bulls teams, and he played his last two seasons in Chicago with a young jump-shooter named Steve Kerr.

That Kerr connection could become vital, as Jackson is already negotiating with Kerr to become the Knicks head coach, per ESPN New York's Ian Begley:

ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported Tuesday that the Knicks are trying to complete a deal with Kerr that would install him as their new coach after the first round of the playoffs, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

Kerr and Cartwright played together for two seasons in Chicago and Cartwright was an assistant during Kerr's playing days with the Bulls. 

Kerr also hired Cartwright as an assistant coach with Phoenix during his term as general manager.

If the Knicks do indeed hire Kerr, Cartwright would make an ideal lieutenant. Unlike Kerr, who has never been a head coach at any level, Cartwright has more than two seasons of experience coaching the Bulls from 2001 to 2004. He wasn't successful (lifetime 51-100 record), but he can at least provide Kerr with experienced counsel. 

Phil Jackson seemed dead-set on filling out the Knicks coaching staff with his guys. It will be up to the coaches to show skeptical New York fans they are worthy of the Zen Master's confidence.

 

All statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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