5 Reasons Why Steve Kerr Is the Right Coach for NY Knicks
After firing Mike Woodson, the Knicks are looking for a better fit to open the Phil Jackson era, and Kerr has the makings of a great hire, despite his lack of experience as an NBA coach.
Kerr has options. He could fill another coaching vacancy, look for a front office role or even continue to work as an analyst, but the clock is ticking. He's expected to make a final decision on Thursday or Friday, according to the New York Daily News.
Let's go through the top five reasons why Knicks fans should be hoping that Kerr opts for a reunion with Jackson in New York.
Strong Relationship with Phil Jackson
While Phil Jackson has made it clear he doesn't intend to coach again, it does make sense that he wants his system implemented in New York, and there's no better way to ensure that than by hiring one of his former players as the new head coach.
If he chooses someone with experience, he's presented with a dilemma. A coach with previous success elsewhere, like Lionel Hollins or Jerry Sloan, might not be so open to adopting someone else's system, possibly even taking it as a slight to his coaching ability.
Kerr, however, may already be on the same page after playing for Jackson between 1993 and 1998, and if not, he will be easy to mold into Jackson's type of coach, given that he's starting from a clean slate.
It's been awhile since the Knicks have been in a position where the front office and the coaching staff have been completely on the same page. Mike D'Antoni, for example, expected to run a fast-paced offense before Carmelo Anthony arrived, while this past season Mike Woodson did little to integrate offseason signings Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace into his rotation, which led to their eventual release.
No other potential coaching candidate has this kind of relationship with Jackson, and that's a big part of why this momentum has been built around Kerr taking the job.
Experience as a General Manager with the Suns
It's rare that a franchise ends up with a former coach running the organization and a former general manager coaching the team, but for the Knicks, that unlikely dynamic could be helpful.
While both Phil Jackson and Steve Kerr would lack experience in their new roles, they can share tips with each other and work together as a more organic partnership rather than having strictly defined roles to stick to.
This kind of relationship may not be ideal, but given that they have a history with each other, it might have a positive impact.
We've seen plenty of times over the last few years where the front office and the coaching staff haven't been on the same page regarding personnel moves, but this won't be an issue if they are working in tandem on a day-to-day basis. There'll be no more trades for players like Andrea Bargnani when he clearly doesn't fit the coach's style of play.
The fact that New York is entering rebuilding mode over the next couple of years makes Kerr's front office experience that much more important, because their signings over the next two summers will dictate the future of the franchise.
More to the point, he was successful during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns, when they averaged 52 wins and threatened to come out of a tough Western Conference on more than one occasion.
Spent Time as a Player Learning from Legendary Coaches
Steve Kerr not only played under Phil Jackson for five years but also spent four years under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs, including his last campaign as a player.
At that point in his career, Kerr probably had one eye on what he was going to do post-retirement, so it's likely he was taking pointers from Popovich and paying close attention to the way he ran a team that now has a reputation as one of the best run in the NBA.
If you're going to hire a coach with no coaching experience of his own, hiring someone who has at least had the chance to watch and learn from two of the best is a good Plan B.
Kerr has learned the importance of establishing a strong system and sticking to it from Jackson and Popovich, but he also seems fairly open-minded, given the way he's embraced basketball analytics. That is a good mix when you consider the Knicks' last head coach suffered from a stubborn approach to a flawed system.
Simply playing under Jackson and Popovich doesn't guarantee Kerr will eventually reach the heights they have, but the fact Jackson has shown this much interest in him at least indicates that Kerr displayed some coaching qualities during his playing days.
A Young Coach Is Ideal for Rebuilding
While Carmelo Anthony is of the mind that the Knicks should look to be a contender as soon as next season, the reality is that it's time for them to hit the reset button, whether he stays or goes.
His decision is obviously a huge factor, but we should expect significant roster turnover these next two years no matter what, and it will be important for them to build a long-term foundation.
When starting from scratch, it's essential to have a coach who's going to be there for the long run and grow along with his team, and Kerr fits the bill on both accounts.
Looking around the league, the teams that have had the most success are the ones who selected a young coach when they started to rebuild rather than simply going for the big-name hire. Just look at how the likes of Gregg Popovich, Tom Thibodeau and even Scott Brooks have succeeded since being hired in line with a rebuild.
Making a move like this allows a team's identity to emerge naturally. Instead of trying to enforce a system on players who don't fit or select a coach who fits the roster's current talent, the Knicks can have a situation where the two grow alongside each other, which is great for player-coach relationships.
He Has the Basketball IQ, and Experienced Assistants Will Help
If you've spent any time listening to Steve Kerr's views as a TNT analyst or looked at the success he had running the Phoenix Suns, you'll know he has the basketball IQ to succeed as an NBA head coach.
Unfortunately, simply having the knowledge of the game doesn't always translate into success, as leadership, presence and bonding skills are also necessary for coaches to get their point across.
The good thing for him is that he'll likely have people around him to help his huge adjustment to becoming a head coach.
Looking at Kerr's career path, he's capable of evolving, having gone from player to general manager to analyst, but this will be a particularly high-pressure situation and arguably his toughest evolution to date.
We've already touched on how Jackson's presence will help—and, frankly, that alone will make a substantial difference—but according to the New York Daily News, Bill Cartwright could join Kerr as an assistant. That would be a perfect fit, given that they worked together during Jackson's Bulls era.
Things didn't work out for the Brooklyn Nets with the Jason Kidd-Lawrence Frank dynamic, but this is a different situation, with two guys who have worked together before, welcome Jackson's system and ultimately want this partnership to happen.