Phil Jackson Talks Carmelo Anthony Opting In and NY Knicks' Coaching Search

Ben Leibowitz@BenLeboCorrespondent IIIMay 30, 2014

Mar 18, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks new president of basketball operations Phil Jackson at a press conference at Madison Square Garden.  Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson has a plethora of questions to answer about the organization’s future. The Zen Master addressed many of those inquiries, on subjects like the team’s coaching search and the future of Carmelo Anthony, while speaking with reporters Friday.

Since TNT analyst Steve Kerr spurned the Knicks and his former coach in favor of signing on with the Golden State Warriors, Jackson has been forced to look at other options to patrol the sideline.

As an interesting wrinkle, Jackson explained that Kerr had verbally agreed to sign on as the Knicks' next head coach. When Golden State fired Mark Jackson, however, Phil allowed Kerr to pursue the opportunity and admitted it was a better fit for him.

Per The Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring and Newsday's Al Iannazzone:

Sliding down from his front office position to take on the vacant coaching role is not something Jackson is considering. Per the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola:

That lack of interest—not surprisingly—is tied to his health. As ESPN New York’s Ian Begley tweeted:

So what types of candidates will Jackson target now that Kerr is bound for Golden State? According to Begley, the 11-time NBA champion wants someone he has a prior relationship with to coach:

One name that sticks out like a sore thumb as a result of that insight is Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher. He won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers under Coach Jackson.

Jackson and Fisher in 2009.
Jackson and Fisher in 2009.Reed Saxon/Associated Press

OKC is still in the midst of a playoff run, but there’s certainly a chance the 39-year-old will opt for retirement when the Thunder’s season winds to a close.

Phil is intrigued by D-Fish, but he’s not sure if there will be mutual interest, per Begley:

While it’s logical to believe Jackson will wait to hire potential candidates at least until after speaking with Fisher, he doesn’t expect the ongoing search to drag on deep into the summer, per Iannazzone:

Also, Jackson didn’t rule out the possibility of putting a college coach on his radar. Still, his preference seems to be a target he has a previous relationship with, as Iannazzone tweeted:

The coaching search in New York remains a huge priority, but Jackson isn’t going to make a rash decision after Kerr opted for G-State. At some point, he’ll be able to woo a candidate to the Big Apple.

Whether Phil can convince Anthony to stay on board remains a gigantic question mark. The newly minted Knicks president addressed that situation as follows, per Herring:

Interestingly, Jackson suggested the superstar look into an option that postpones free agency until next summer, according to Iannazzone:

Isola added the following insight that could potentially convince Anthony to forgo a long-term deal this offseason:

CBS Sports' James Herbert wrote the following of Jackson's intriguing proposal:

Opting in would give Anthony the option of going somewhere else in 2015 if Jackson's Knicks fail to attract a co-star for him. It could be a good compromise for both sides, but there will certainly be better choices for Anthony if his No. 1 goal is to compete for a championship next season.

Jackson's hands are tied in 2014 due to the Knicks' salary-cap situation. When numerous contracts come off the books next year—like those of Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler—he'll have much more leeway in terms of targeting big-name free agents to place beside Anthony.

Per Isola, Jackson added the following message with regard to his concern about Anthony potentially opting out to test free agency:

Also, due to trades made prior to Jackson's acceptance of the new position, the Knicks won't have a draft pick in 2014. Phil may try to remedy that, per Herring:

Purchasing a pick from another team seems like a long shot. Nevertheless, hopping into the second round with hopes of finding a diamond in the rough would be a good step in Jackson's regime.

Knicks fans are forced to deal with uncertainty surrounding the coaching situation, as well as the future of a seven-time All-Star in Anthony. Netting Jackson's "Plan B" as coach while retaining Melo—at least for next season—would alleviate the stresses of the fanbase, as well as the front office.