Will Steve Kerr Spurning New York Knicks Impact Carmelo Anthony's Free Agency?

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistMay 15, 2014

When Steve Kerr agreed to terms with the Golden State Warriors, as first reported by NBA.com's David Aldridge, a whole lot changed. 

Not only did the Dubs find their replacement for Mark Jackson, but the New York Knicks were thrown into a tailspin. And with that tailspin comes serious questions about the future of Carmelo Anthony, who can opt out of his contract and hit the open market this offseason. 

Yes, Kerr has that kind of power, even if he's never coached before. 

After all, there was good reason to think that the former sharpshooter would end up joining Phil Jackson in Madison Square Garden, reuniting with his old coach so that he could run the triangle offense. Even though Golden State was offering an appealing contract, a better team and a spot close to home, that Jackson connection was supposed to mean that much to Kerr. 

It didn't. 

And all of a sudden, there are a lot of uncertainties swirling around both the Knicks and Melo. 


The Replacements

Kerr was a massive question mark. 

Even if he'd demonstrated his basketball brilliance numerous times over the years while serving as a color commentator for TNT, there's absolutely no information out there about how he'll fare as a head coach. The prevailing assumption seems to be that he'll find success, but you know what they say about assumptions. 

After all, Kerr has no experience coaching. Not in any position. Not at any level. 

Losing him can't really be viewed as a negative, simply because he's unknown. And by the time Melo was forced to make his free-agency decision, Kerr would still be an unknown. There's nothing he could do between now and the relevant portion of the offseason to prove otherwise, because it's impossible to replicate the drama of a tightly contested NBA game with high stakes. 

If anything, losing Kerr could be a positive for Anthony. 

There are plenty of high-profile coaches out there who have enough success on their resumes to keep the combo forward happy. George Karl might be one—if the two can get over their checkered past—but Lionel Hollins, Jerry Sloan, Mark Jackson and plenty of other names certainly apply. 

Of course, the opposite argument applies as well. 

In the immediate aftermath of Kerr joining the Warriors, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that there's a new favorite for the New York job—Derek Fisher: 

Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher, who played under Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers, is emerging as a leading candidate to join Jackson in New York now that Jackson's first choice, Steve Kerr, has signed with the Golden State Warriors. Fisher, of course, has zero head coaching experience but Jackson believes that Fisher has the intelligence and worth ethic to become a successful if he were to make the move from player to coach. Most recently, Jason Kidd went right from playing to being hired as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Neither Kerr nor Fisher has any coaching experience, but there's still a massive difference between the two. 

While the former has been working—quite successfully, I might add—in the broadcast booth, gaining a type of experience that can't be found while on an NBA roster, the latter is still playing. In fact, he's on a playoff team that's still alive, which means he can't even be hired for a while, thus preventing the Knicks' plans from doing anything but stagnating. 

If Anthony had confidence in Kerr—and we don't know if he did—it would be hard for him to maintain those good feelings while working for a point guard who's only about a decade older than him. 

Yes, Fisher is commonly viewed as a future coach. But as Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney explains, that isn't the same as being a current coach:

Fisher is a favorite response when NBA types are asked which active players would make the best head coaches, though that vote of confidence is a few degrees removed from being seriously considered as a coaching option for the Knicks as soon as this summer.

Can you imagine Anthony taking advice from Fisher? Can you imagine him acquiescing to the southpaw's wishes during a crucial situation? 

This is admittedly just a personal opinion, but I have trouble seeing that going smoothly. 

And that's not even the biggest problem, seeing as Fisher's future status as a New York head coach is only a rumor, not a guarantee. After all, it's still possible that New York caves and hires a big name with experience.


Pokes Holes in Jackson's Invincibility 

Phil Jackson was supposed to be the driving force behind the efforts to keep Melo in Madison Square Garden. 

Even on the heels of a massively disappointing 2013-14 campaign, one filled with more controversy, turmoil and negative headlines than winning basketball, the Zen Master instantly brought credibility to the beleaguered franchise. The Knicks were going to lure quality free agents in whenever they had money, and they were going to turn things around much more quickly. 

Well, Jackson literally hasn't done anything yet. This coaching search was his first test, and he struck out on the initial attempt. Granted, you typically get three, but that's not how things work in these parts.

Doesn't that have to damage his aura of invincibility? Doesn't it have to poke holes in the belief that everything he touched was immediately going to turn into gold? 

Grantland's Netw3rk tackled that very subject, and while I'd highly recommend reading the entire piece, this is the most pertinent portion:

The press conference announcing Phil’s hiring was most notable for the star-struck manner that Dolan affected toward Phil, and the way Dolan seemed eager, as if throwing off a great burden, to cede control to Phil and his winner’s mystique.

Does Phil missing out on his first choice damage his allure? I think it dims the glow a bit, yeah. Anyway, let’s hope Dolan is still blinded by it.

It's even more troubling when you consider recent reports that Kerr's decision was significantly affected by James Dolan's presence in the front office. Harvey Araton of The New York Times has the details: 

In doing his homework and speaking to many people about Dolan’s methodology, Kerr became concerned about an inevitable clash between ownership and the fiercely independent and occasionally iconoclastic Jackson.

On top of that, there's what Kerr himself told NBA.com's David Aldridge"It was agonizing to say no to Phil because of what I think of him and what he’s done for my career,” the new head coach in Golden State explained. “When Phil Jackson asks you to coach the Knicks, how do you say no?"

Does it matter how? 

Kerr did say no. He said no to Phil Jackson. He said no to the Zen Master himself. 

That leaves the door open for others to do the same, and it removes the honeymoon appeal of Jackson's arrival in the front office of the New York franchise. He was infallible days ago; now he's very much fallible. 

"Kerr may have decided to leave because he doesn't believe Anthony is staying, or he might be leaving because the vision in New York doesn't persuade him," pens Kelly Scaletta for Bleacher Report. "That will send a message to Anthony. Either way, it’s hard to see Anthony sticking around in New York."  

I'd argue that Scaletta is wrong. 

It was hard to see Anthony staying before. It's very hard now. 


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