Phil Jackson's New York Knicks may have whiffed on Steve Kerr, but there are other former Chicago Bulls who could potentially join the franchise in some capacity. The New York Post's Marc Berman reports that the organization may have interest in arguably the greatest sidekick of all-time.
Knicks GM Steve Mills huddled with Scottie Pippen for about 15 minutes Thursday at the draft combine to gauge the legendary Bull’s interest in potentially working for the organization in some capacity, possibly as an assistant coach, according to an NBA source.
Knicks president Phil Jackson, stung by the Steve Kerr rejection, would have interest in Pippen in some capacity, depending on who is hired as head coach. Pippen, a student of the triangle offense, has the title of adviser with the Bulls.
Per Berman, Pippen didn't want to comment much on something that remains hypothetical, saying, "I haven’t talked to Phil. I have to wait until that time comes. Right now nothing’s out there. I’m not going to say whether I’m interested or not until it happens."
Earlier in May, Phoenix Suns analyst Eddie Johnson speculated that Pippen would be a good fit as an assistant on New York's bench (via Rant Sports' Staff): "During the interview Johnson pointed to Scottie Pippen as a possible candidate to join Kerr on the New York sidelines. He cites Pippen’s knowledge of the triangle offense and his ability to lead as reasons why he’d be a good fit."
So there's no real surprise here. The writing is on the wall in New York: Phil wants his guys at the helm. He wants an offensive system like the Triangle in place, and he wants leadership who can implement that system.
Things may not be going entirely according to plan, but there's little doubt Jackson has a number of contingencies in the works. Larry Brown Sports' Steve DelVecchio notes:
Jackson has turned his attention to plan B after he was turned down by Steve Kerr, and there are reports indicating he is considering a number of former players and associates for New York’s vacant head coaching job. Phil obviously has certain people that he trusts, and it looks like he’s going to lean on one or more of those people to rebuild the Knicks.
Apparently Pippen is one of those inside Phil's circle of trust.
ESPNChicago.com reported back in 2012 that, "Pippen said...his goal in the next few years is to become an NBA head coach, and he said it would be 'great' if the team he coaches has Phil Jackson in the front office."
Given his lack of coaching experience, it seems unlikely that Jackson would give Pippen a head coaching gig right away. But something in an assistant capacity certainly seems within the realm of possibilities. This could be a stepping stone for Pippen to realize his eventual goals of leading a team.
It's certainly an opportunity for Jackson to build a new culture in New York. Whoever he settles on as the next head coach, familiar faces like Pippen could be instrumental to developing that culture.