By Jared Mintz, Contributing Writer
Was Steve Kerr even a candidate for a head coaching job before Phil Jackson took over as President of the New York Knicks back in March?
I remember when the rumors surfaced that Jackson was considering taking over the Knicks, and attached to that rumor was an even more confusing one that Jackson was interested in bringing in the TNT broadcaster and former NBA GM/three-point specialist as his head coach.
I thought “oh, maybe they mean Kerr as GM?” Nope. Steve Kerr will be an NBA head coach next season, and it won’t be for the Knicks.
Really, who can blame the guy for wanting to coach Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and the rest of the Golden State Warriors instead of coaching a team that’s quit on their last two coaches over the last three seasons?
I’m going to try my hardest not to dig at the Knicks here, because I don’t think this is their fault as much as it is that a more appealing offer came around, especially considering that I think the Knicks played their cards as right as they could have.
If a story comes out over the next couple of days–or however long–that Knicks owner James Dolan meddled through the hiring process or interfered with Jackson finalizing a contract, then my stance will change, but Kerr seemingly was offered more money, to stay closer to home, to coach a better team, for a more stable organization. I’m sorry but to me that doesn’t translate into “haha same old stupid unreliable Knicks.”
And as a Knicks fan, I’m far more outspoken about the organization’s shortcomings than I am defensive when they screw something up. I’m well aware of Dolan’s track record of interfering in personnel moves, as well as his stubbornness getting in the way of making better decisions for the basketball operations (and everything else). But for now, it just seems like the Knicks lost out because they weren’t the most handsome bachelor at the bar.
I’m also not going to use this opportunity to bash Kerr. I don’t know what kind of head coach he’s going to be, but I think he does a great job as an analyst and has as good of a bloodline of coaches–having played for Jackson, Greg Popovich, and legendary University of Arizona coachLute Olson–as any coaching candidate out there. I’m not totally sure how he was the leading candidate for multiple prestigious jobs when there are/were two Van Gundy’s, 1 George Karl, and Jerry Sloan all available, but if a lot of smart guys wanted him as their guy, there must be some reason.
It’ll be interesting to see how Kerr steps in and leads a bunch that was incredibly close with their last coach, Mark Jackson, but Steph Curry was quick to publicly approve the signing and I think having a former point guard who will stress spacing and high percentage shots will do wonders with this roster.
Kerr very much knows what he’s taking over in Golden State, and I’d have to imagine that the uncertainties in New York weren’t overly appealing. I think that Jackson wants to clean house for the most part — because why wouldn’t he? — and with Carmelo Anthony potentially on the go, the Knicks could have a completely blank canvas over the next two seasons.
With a head coaching vacancy, I don’t even know if I can say that Anthony is Jackson’s priority at this point in time. In fact, I don’t think anybody knows what Jackson’s priorities look like. We really haven’t heard about any other head coaching candidates for the Knicks job, and it’s been made clear that Jackson would prefer one of his guys over a proven entity like Karl, Sloan, or even the now jobless Jackson–a crowd favorite in his hometown New York City.
And to be honest, it almost doesn’t make sense to bring in a veteran coach who’s ready to win now, because this Knicks roster seemingly isn’t ready to win now. With that said, if Jackson were to bring in say a Derek Fisher or Tyronn Lue (yes, seriously), the chances that Anthony would want to stay and be a part of another rebuild have to be slim.
It seems like a real catch-22 for the Knicks, but again, I don’t think Jackson took over the Knicks because he thought they were in a position to win now with his leadership, I think he wanted to be able to instill his own vision–from coaching staff to roster–and get rid of the inconsistent pieces that were already in place.
I’m not overly impressed with Jackson having put all of his eggs in Kerr’s basket and missing out, but the zen has taken its effect on me already as I remain patient and confident that Jackson still knows what he’s doing.
I don’t think he’ll go for a big name to appease the fans/media, and I certainly don’t think he’s considering coaching the team himself like others–mainly on twitter, where thoughts go to die–have been suggesting. I do believe Jackson has a plan, but I couldn’t even begin to start imagining who his next guy will be.
Gun to my head, I’d say it’s one of: Fisher, Lue, Fred Hoiberg, Kurt Rambis (yuck), or Mark Jackson.
It will be interesting to see what Jackson’s approach will be moving forward, but I’m not going to call him, or the Knicks, losers for missing out on Kerr.
- Stan Van Gundy took over as coach and president of basketball operations of the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday
This post originally appeared on Bro Jackson.