Phil Jackson's coaching search reads like a public service announcement on the dangers of putting all your eggs in one basket.
After missing out on first—and, for the longest time, only—candidate Steve Kerr, Jackson has started taking wild swings at the coaching market. Not home run hacks either, just vicious cuts at a group supposedly headlined by a coach who doesn't want to leave his current gig and a player who might keep playing next season.
Brian Shaw, current head coach of the Denver Nuggets, is reportedly ahead of Derek Fisher, reserve point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, on Jackson's big board, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post:
According to a source, Jackson, the Knicks president, prefers Shaw over Fisher, but the Nuggets would require the Knicks to pay compensation. That appears to be a bigger roadblock to getting Shaw out of his Denver contract than Shaw’s reluctance to come to New York. It’s unclear whether Jackson has formally asked the Nuggets for permission to speak to Shaw.
The source said Jackson hasn’t totally given up hope he somehow can pry Shaw from Denver, especially if the Fisher scenario falls through.
This one is a bit hard to digest, even for a Knicks story.
So, Shaw is Jackson's (new) first choice, and the fact that Shaw has repeatedly expressed having no interest in leaving his current post isn't New York's biggest roadblock? Public posturing is one thing, but the Nuggets coach has remained consistent with his stance on Denver and New York:
W/Steve Kerr now the head coach of Golden St., if the Knicks made a move toward #Nuggets Brian Shaw, he said he'd decline.— Chris Dempsey (@dempseypost) May 15, 2014
Phil Jackson protege Brian Shaw reiterated tonight that he is happy coaching the Denver Nuggets and has not spoken with Phil about Knicks.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) May 20, 2014
Incredibly, that lack of interest may not be the Knicks' biggest hurdle. "Sources say New York fears it likely can't meet the Nuggets' demands if it were to try to get Shaw out of his contract," ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne reported. Teams are only allowed to give cash or draft picks in return for coaches, and the Knicks don't have a movable first-round selection until 2018.
Fisher, who made his NBA debut in 1996, has said he plans to stay away from the game for a year after finishing his playing career, per Berman. That would seem to leave the Knicks out of luck for next season and potentially beyond that.
On the Derek Fisher front, I'm told one possibility that has been discussed in addition to head coach: player/asst. w/ Thunder next year.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) May 21, 2014
Fisher could play one more season while learning coaching ropes (unofficial asst.) under Scott Brooks. That entire group values him greatly.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) May 21, 2014
If Jackson cannot land Shaw or Fisher, Berman wrote that he may move on to another of his former players, Tyronn Lue.
Lue spent the first three seasons of his 11-year playing career with Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers. The 37-year-old has spent the past five seasons on Doc Rivers' coaching staff, first with the Boston Celtics and now with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Which coaching candidate should the Knicks pursue?
"He's got a wonderful personality," a coach said of Lue, via Berman. "He has a great knowledge of the game and how to play the triangle."
Lue's also currently employed—so he's right up Jackson's alley.
The Knicks team president seems to be approaching panic mode in a search that originally appeared to be over before it started. Emergencies are often unexpected, though, which is why most people have a response plan in place long before they arise.
Jackson dumped eggs in the Kerr basket like he was hunting for Easter candy. Now, the Zen Master is wearing all of them on his face.
Maybe that explains why he's yet to make contact on his swings at the coaching market.