NBA Executive: Phil Jackson 'Looks Like a Beaten Man' After Losing Steve Kerr

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18: Phil Jackson addresses the media during his introductory press conference as President of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Things aren't going so well during the first months of Phil Jackson's stint with the New York Knicks. We already knew the roster was in need of some major help, but the search for a new head coach has proven more difficult than imagined.

Jackson recently lost out on his pursuit of Steve Kerr, who inked a deal with the Golden State Warriors for five years and $22 million.

In the wake of the whiff, Jackson is reportedly looking downright downtrodden, according the New York Daily News' Frank Isola: "In the embarrassing aftermath of the Steve Kerr fiasco, Phil Jackson was described by one league executive on Friday as 'looking like a beaten man already.'"

Isola cites "one league executive" as saying, "When I saw Phil today he looked like a guy who had lost $60 million. Last summer he looked refreshed when I saw him. Now he really looks beaten down. He didn’t look good."

Granted, this is all hearsay. How Jackson looks on any given day is admittedly up to some degree of interpretation.

Nevertheless, this would seemingly suggest that life isn't going all that great for the Knicks' new president of basketball operations. Isola notes that "Jackson and [owner James] Dolan had already clashed over staff moves," but the third-party assessment of Jackson's demeanor suggests things are definitely awry in New York.

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

It's unclear who Jackson's next head coaching target may be, but the organization seems bound to try and make a splash after coming up empty with Kerr. The last message it wants to send is the notion that no one wants to work for the franchise, even if there's a little bit of truth to it.

Isola notes that, "Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher, who played for Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers, has emerged as a top candidate," for the head coaching position.

In a separate article, Isola explained that, "Jackson’s plan, according to a source, would be to assemble an experienced staff around Fisher that could potentially include Kurt Rambis and Bill Cartwright, two former NBA head coaches. Jackson thinks highly of Rambis, the longtime Lakers assistant, and there is a possibility that Rambis could be hired as a head coach."

That would be consistent with the belief that Jackson wants to surround himself with people he trusts. But it's also hard to say whether the organization would be willing to commit to someone fresh off his playing days, much as the Brooklyn Nets did with Jason Kidd.

Though Kerr didn't have any coaching experience, he'd at least been a general manager. Fisher would be coming directly off of a stint playing with the Thunder.

Mark Jackson had also been rumored to be in the running for the Knicks position after being fired by the Golden State Warriors, but he recently signed a multiyear contract with ESPN to return to television. He'll be calling games through the remainder of the postseason and beyond. The deal apparently wouldn't prevent Jackson from eventually pursuing a head coaching gig.

There are any number of reasons Kerr passed on the Knicks gig. According to the New York Post's Marc Berman, "The Post has learned Jackson’s initial offer to Kerr was a lowball of three years, $13.2 million. That offer stuck for more than a week before the Warriors got involved."

From that perspective, Kerr's decision may have been largely financial in nature. But, he also resides in San Diego and has a daughter attending Cal Berkeley. 

Another factor may have been Dolan and the reputation that preceded the organization. According to the New York Daily News' Bob Raissman, TNT cohort Marv Albert warned Kerr that "it never ends well" at MSG.

Whatever the reasons behind Kerr's decision, the results seem to be showing on Phil Jackson.