Whiffing on Steve Kerr has forced New York Knicks president Phil Jackson to think outside the box as he continues his search for Mike Woodson's replacement.
Apparently thinking outside the box has led him to stick his hand in another team's cookie jar.
Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne that the Knicks plan on attempting to pry Brian Shaw away from the Denver Nuggets in the wake of Kerr agreeing to coach the Golden State Warriors:
Sources said Jackson also intends to explore whether the Denver Nuggets are in any way amenable to releasing Brian Shaw from his contract in exchange for some form of compensation. Shaw is a longtime Jackson favorite who, after missing out on numerous head-coaching jobs, just completed his first season with the Nuggets, posting a 36-46 record despite numerous injuries to front-line players.
Speaking on ESPN Radio 98.7 FM, Stephen A. Smith went as far as to say that Shaw himself was trying to find ways to get out of his contract with Denver, per The Knicks Blog.
That completely contradicts what Shaw said earlier.
"I have a job here in Denver that I'm happy with," Shaw told The Denver Post's Christopher Dempsey. "Though the season didn't turn out how any of us would have liked, I'm happy where I am, and I'm looking forward to coaching a full complement of healthy players. I'm not interested in doing anything than what I'm doing now."
Although Shaw's first season in Denver didn't go as planned—the Nuggets missed the postseason for the first time since 2003—New York isn't any better off.
The Nuggets have quietly assembled one of the most peculiar payrolls in the NBA, but they are a young team with plenty of talent that was decimated by injuries last season. If Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson, JaVale McGee, J.J. Hickson and Ty Lawson all come back healthy next year, they have a chance to make some noise in the fiercely competitive Western Conference. They also, somewhat ironically, own the rights to New York's lottery pick this year, per RealGM. That Shaw would want to stay in Denver is hardly surprising.
Nor is Jackson's interest.
As Frank Isola of the New York Daily News points out, Jackson is thought to be looking for a young coach with whom he has worked in the past. Shaw spent time with Jackson both as a player and assistant coach in Los Angeles, so he's familiar with the triangle offense the Zen Master presumably wants to implement in New York.
But Shaw should be considered a long shot. The Knicks would have to compensate the Nuggets for his departure, and there's no telling what they would want or if New York could even afford it. There are also plenty of other options Jackson is said to be exploring.
In addition to Shaw, Stein and Shelburne note that the Knicks' relaunched coaching search will include Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher, Kurt Rambis, Bill Cartwright, Jim Cleamons and Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg. Sam Amick of USA Today says the Knicks have even met with Mike Dunleavy:
Re: Knicks & Dunleavy, I'm told it wasn't formal interview w/ Phil Jackson but he's hopeful preliminary meeting leads to another sitdown— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) May 18, 2014
"Although they didn't plan on needing any, the Knicks have options to fill their vacant coaching seat," writes Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley. "After watching his first choice slip out of his grasp, maybe Phil Jackson will keep his preferences a little closer to the vest this time around."
So much for keeping the latest coaching conquest close to the vest.
If Jackson and the Knicks want to avoid further embarrassment—striking out on Kerr was humiliating, given he was their only real candidate to succeed Woodson—they had better move on from Shaw, lest they see the cookie jar they're rummaging through turn into a vice that crushes their expectations once again.