After several weeks of negotiating with Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks, TNT analyst Steve Kerr finally reached an agreement on a five-year, $25 million contract Wednesday—to coach the Golden State Warriors:
To call this twist a tremendous blow for Jackson and the Knicks would be an understatement. If the Zen Master had done nothing else in his two months on the job as team president, he had made it clear that he wanted Kerr as his coach. Badly.
"Kerr wasn't just their top coaching candidate, he was their only coaching candidate," Bleacher Report's Dan Favale wrote. "Different names were tossed around for fun, but it's always been Kerr. Before Mike Woodson was fired, it was Kerr."
Jackson's list of coaching candidates was one-name deep, and now that one has been taken off the board. That board, just like Woodson's old seat, needs to be filled, and ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne reports Jackson has three names near the top of his new list:
Maybe Kerr spurning the Knicks will turn into a blessing in disguise. The former sharpshooter-turned-executive-turned-broadcaster has no coaching experience. He's a sharp basketball mind, but no one knows for sure how it will translate to the head seat on the sideline.
There would be an equal risk with Derek Fisher, who's still keeping his 18-year playing career alive for now. The risk wouldn't necessarily be any greater with Fisher, though, and it could be mitigated by Jackson's presence—a safeguard Kerr will not have in Oakland.
Kurt Rambis has a coaching history, but probably not one that leads his resume. The former Jackson assistant amassed a career 56-145 record over stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves. Still, his familiarity with the triangle offense should at least buy him an interview.
Tyronn Lue has been working under Doc Rivers since ending his 11-year playing career after the 2008-09 season. Lue followed Rivers' move from the Boston Celtics to the Los Angeles Clippers last summer, and the 37-year-old has quietly emerged as a coveted candidate.
One other name worth considering, according to ESPN New York's Ian Begley, is former Warriors coach Mark Jackson. A source told Begley that Carmelo Anthony "would embrace the opportunity" to play for the former point guard, and after missing out on his top choice, Phil Jackson might be inclined to go with the coach who gives him the best chance to keep Anthony around.
Although they didn't plan on needing any, the Knicks have options to fill their vacant coaching seat. After watching his first choice slip out of his grasp, maybe Phil Jackson will keep his preferences a little closer to the vest this time around.
New York's $60 million savior doesn't want to make a habit of failing to get what everyone knows he wants.