The New York Knicks entered full renovation mode after they tapped Phil Jackson and his 11 championship rings to preside over the team. Though most observers considered it a fait accompli that Jackson would hire Steve Kerr as the next head coach, the Knicks may have some surprisingly tough competition for Kerr's services, even though he has never coached basketball at any level.
On May 2, Marc Berman of the New York Post quoted an "NBA source" who claimed: "Kerr likely will make his final decision on accepting the Knicks head-coaching job soon after the weekend." This comes on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report by Chris Herring that Jackson had joined Carmelo Anthony for dinner to discuss the future of the Knicks, and Jackson told Melo he expects to hire Kerr as the next coach.
But Berman laid out one scenario under which Kerr could opt to go elsewhere, the first part of which has already played out: "One thing that can derail Kerr’s getting hired by the Knicks is if the Warriors lose their first-round series to the Clippers on Saturday and coach Mark Jackson is let go. Kerr, whose family lives in San Diego, may listen if approached by the Warriors."
The Golden State Warriors indeed fell to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7, and Mark Jackson's job could be in peril.
Warriors CEO Joe Lacob remained steadfast that the organization has not yet considered firing Jackson, but he stopped short of giving his head coach a vote of confidence for next season, telling Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears after Game 6: "Everybody in the entire organization is reviewed after the season and we make decisions."
As Golden State veteran Jermaine O'Neal ominously told reporters after the team's Game 6 win, per USA Today's Sam Amick, "You get the feel that no matter what happens, our coach won't be our coach next year. You just get that feel."
The New York Knicks remain the frontrunners to land Kerr, primarily due to his close relationship with Phil Jackson stretching back to their championship days in Chicago, but coaching the Knicks may not be an enviable position in Kerr's eyes.
If Mark Jackson gets axed, Kerr could bolt for California despite his relationship with the Zen Master.
The Knicks finished eight games under .500 and missed the playoffs during a mostly dreadful season. Anthony holds an early termination option, and the team still has $38 million promised to under-performers Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler next season, per ShamSports.com.
If Kerr can coach an established contender instead of a lottery team with a roster in shambles, it would make for a sensible choice. The Warriors boast the slick-shooting backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, talented youngsters like Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, plus the veteran leadership and utility of Andre Iguodala.
Without a doubt, the Dubs are a superior team to the Knicks. While many speculate that Phil Jackson will flourish in his first turn running a front office, the Knicks need a complete overhaul before they can hope to compete for a title. That will likely take at least one season of struggles and frustration, if only because of the massive salaries still on the books.
The high-powered Dubs could also pursue the likes of ousted Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, who bolted from the sinking Knicks back in 2012. Now that another potential landing spot could open for Kerr in Oakland, the Knicks have to hope a range of coaching candidates—including Kevin Ollie, Fred Hoiberg and D'Antoni—line up to compete for the prospective Dubs' vacancy.