It was a forgone conclusion that Steve Kerr would join his former coach and mentor Phil Jackson and be the next coach of the New York Knicks. Well, that did not happen as Kerr shocked the basketball world by signing a 5-year, $25 million dollar contract to coach the Golden State Warriors.
So what about the Knicks? With Phil Jackson at the helm, we assumed that he would have brought in a coach by now, which obviously is not the case. One thing is for certain, with Stan Van Gundy and Kerr off the board, the Knicks must now pursue Mark Jackson.
The Warriors brass fired Jackson as their coach because they felt that he was not capable of taking their team to the next level. During Jackson’s tenure in Golden State, he vastly improved a team that had habitually resided in the bottom half of the Western Conference standings. Let’s not forget the progress players like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson showed with Jackson at the helm.
The Warriors’ front office even mentioned that they were a better team than when Jackson arrived. How does a guy like that get fired?
Jackson, a native New Yorker, was drafted by the Knicks after a successful career at St. Johns. Jackson immediately became a leader on that Knicks team and was named the 1987 Rookie of the Year. It is those leadership abilities that the Knicks need in order to bring some stability to a franchise that can definitely use it. Jackson is a great communicator, and hiring him would definitely excite the fanbase due to his New York ties.
Jackson has come under fire for having a “my way or the highway” mentality, but is that a bad thing? Jackson does not have time for theatrics, therefore he will play the players who deserve to play, period. We saw him change the culture in Golden State, and that is exactly what he would need to do in New York.
Say what you want about Carmelo Anthony but he is still one of the premiere players in the NBA. Throw Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. in the mix and you have pretty good wing players to start with. With Phil Jackson doing the recruiting and making personnel decisions while Mark Jackson coaches, the Knicks may be able to turn the corner quicker than anticipated. The bad contracts of Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani will be off the books after the conclusion of next year, so there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
The Knicks proved that they could score last year but struggled defensively. Jackson is a defense-first coach who could really improve the Knicks defensively, especially with Shumpert and Hardaway on the wing. With Jackson in charge and playing the Eastern Conference, the Knicks could be back in the playoffs sooner than you think.