New York Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson is aiming to save face after his lone coaching target—TNT analyst Steve Kerr—snubbed NY’s job opening in favor of leading the Golden State Warriors.
According to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, the Zen Master may be willing to expand his search “beyond geometry” by honing in on an available suitor who doesn’t utilize Jackson’s famed triangle offense.
The candidate is former Warriors coach Mark Jackson.
It doesn’t appear, however, that Phil would spurn the triangle altogether. Per Berman, “The Knicks believe Jackson’s ‘credibility’ around the league will enable him to have the ‘flexibility’ to hire an experienced coach willing to adapt to the principles of his triangle offense—or at least a facsimile.”
While Phil Jackson’s 13 championship rings speak for themselves, it may not be so easy to change Mark Jackson’s coaching philosophy. After all, the former Dubs coach “was reportedly fired due to his my-way-or-the-highway approach,” per Berman.
The Knicks’ new president has been placed between a rock and a hard place. Kerr opted for a better situation in terms of winning by joining G-State, thus leaving his former coach with the Chicago Bulls high and dry. Moving on and finding a new leader of men has to be the focus, especially since New York doesn’t lay claim to a 2014 first-round draft pick.
It’s worth nothing that superstar forward Carmelo Anthony would reportedly like to play for Mark Jackson.
According to ESPN New York’s Ian Begley, ‘Melo has the following outlook:
A source with knowledge of the situation said last month that Carmelo Anthony would embrace the opportunity to play for Mark Jackson. Anthony plans to test free agency in July. Bringing in a coach that he’d like to play for would certainly boost the Knicks’ chances of keeping him.
Losing the former scoring champ for nothing in return this summer would be a deathblow to a reeling Knicks franchise. He’s arguably the sole rotational piece keeping New York relevant, so re-signing him has to be a huge priority.
If nothing else, at least the Knicks can lean on sentiments from Mark Jackson’s former players to justify targeting him.
Veteran Warriors center Jermaine O’Neal said during the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, “You get the feel that no matter what happens, our coach won’t be our coach next year. You just get that feel. But we are willing to give all we’ve got for this group, for that coach,” per USA Today’s Sam Amick.
All-Star point guard Stephen Curry added less than a week before Mark Jackson’s dismissal, “I love Coach more than anybody, and I think for him to be in a situation where his job is under scrutiny and under question is totally unfair,” per Leung.
Put simply, Warriors players respected their former coach and played their hearts out for him. That has to count for something in a league where relationships between players and coaches can go sour rather quickly (just ask Mike D’Antoni and Chris Kaman).
Veteran point guard Derek Fisher is still considered one of the front-runners for the job opening, per the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola. However, the Oklahoma City Thunder are still playing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
If the Knicks opt to move quickly when hiring a new coach, Fisher may not get the opportunity to interview if he has interest.
Mark Jackson played the first five years of his NBA career with the Knicks. It may be possible that he’ll return to the sideline as a coach after a successful stint—and 51-win season—with the Warriors.