Phil Jackson's affinity for his former players can't be tamed.
That was quickly followed by a report by the New York Daily News' Frank Isola suggesting that Jackson and the Knicks were interested in hiring Derek Fisher after his run with the Oklahoma City Thunder was over.
Now, there's more.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Scottie Pippen, the Hall of Famer who won so many titles alongside Michael Jordan while the Zen Master was pacing the sidelines, is possibly being evaluated as a candidate for a gig as an assistant coach:
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.
Pippen does have experience with Jackson on his side, but he also has one more thing working for him. Apparently, the Zen Master is interested in former players with no coaching experience at any level.
Just think about the aforementioned names.
Kerr went from sharpshooting to analyzing games, and he's transferring from the TNT broadcast booth to the Dubs' sideline. Fisher is still playing in this very postseason, where he'll help OKC take on the San Antonio Spurs with a few lefty triples off the bench.
As for Pippen, he's served as a team advisor for the Chicago Bulls—a title he currently holds—but he's never done any coaching. Not at any level, just like Kerr and Fish.
Perhaps this is all just a massive coincidence, but it's also possible—and perhaps likely—that Jackson is intentionally weeding out coaching candidates who are set in their ways. By hiring novices, he's able to shape them, making them his coaching proteges and implementing the exact type of system that he desires in Madison Square Garden.
Thinking about a certain geometric offense, anyone?
As Stephen Babb wrote for Bleacher Report, "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."
If it seems like Jackson is at the center of the coaching carousel in New York, that's because it should feel that way.
Nothing is going to get done without his approval, and he still holds a tremendous amount of sway and appeal, Kerr-related disappointment notwithstanding.
For those of you who think that Pippen would never help out any franchise but the one he helped win six titles, let me remind you of a certain portion of his career (1999-2003):
And this year (1998-99):
Pippen did go back to the Bulls for his final season, retiring with a Chicago uniform on his back, but it's not like he didn't play for other teams. He was traded to both the Houston Rockets and the Portland Trail Blazers, sure, but he did work hard in those new locations.
"I haven’t talked to Phil," Pippen told Berman, referring to that possible spot on the bench in MSG. "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."
As is so often the case in these types of discussions, a lack of denial sure seems tantamount to a tacit confirmation.
If Jackson really did come calling with such a high-profile gig—relative to the one Pippen currently holds—it would be hard for the retired forward to say no.