The New York Knicks and team president Phil Jackson had their hearts and minds set on Steve Kerr. The deal was in place for Kerr to become the Knicks’ head coach and reunite him with his former coach Jackson. However, the TNT analyst turned down the bright lights of Broadway for the more talented Golden State Warriors. After going all in to lure Kerr to New York, Jackson and the Knicks must restart their search for a head coach. There are many options for the Knicks to choose from, but whoever is selected for the job will be considered by Jackson to be the best at implementing the Triangle offense and many other principles of Jackson’s basketball philosophy.
The most popular head coaching option for the Knicks is Mark Jackson. Not only is Jackson a former Knick, but he is also from New York and played his college basketball at St. John’s. Known for being a players coach, Jackson compiled a 121-109 record and two playoff appearances in three seasons with Golden State. Despite his popularity with the players, Jackson was shown the door after this season for issues regarding his relationships with assistant coaches and the Warriors’ front office.
Of the possible head coaching options out there for the Knicks, Jackson seems to be the best available and most qualified. However, his problems with colleagues and ownership in Golden State are a serious point of concern for the Knicks. Jackson’s past history of clashing with his superiors could be a deal breaker, especially when the boss of the Knicks has 11 championship rings as a head coach. Despite the fact that Mark Jackson is an established head coach with a credible basketball philosophy, he will have no choice but to implement what Phil Jackson wants. Besides having a bad season, the last thing the next head coach of the Knicks wants is to be on Phil Jackson’s bad side.
Another name that has been gaining traction is Derek Fisher. Fisher, who currently plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder and has said that this will be his last season playing, is considered by many to be a future head coach or executive in the NBA. Fisher played for the Zen Master on the Los Angeles Lakers, where they won five championships together. Not only will Fisher implement Jackson’s philosophies, but he should also be able to relate well to the players on the team. Furthermore, Fisher would not be the first NBA point guard to go directly from the floor to the bench.
A third interesting name that has surfaced recently in the Knicks’ head coaching discussions is Tyronn Lue, who also played for Jackson in Los Angeles. Lue has served as an assistant coach under Doc Rivers since 2009 for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, so he has plenty of experience working with great players and learning how to coach winning basketball under one of the best minds in the NBA. I do not believe his chances are as strong as Mark Jackson’s or Fisher’s, but Lue will certainly be considered by the Knicks.
On the older end of the coaching spectrum, two other intriguing names that have been mentioned are Kurt Rambis and Bill Cartwright. It is unlikely either will be hired as the head coach of the Knicks, but both men are loyal to Jackson with coaching experience. Rambis served as an assistant under Jackson with the Lakers and would no doubt implement the Triangle offense, but his head coaching results are not spectacular. During his time as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rambis posted a disappointing 32-132 record.
As for Cartwright, he was the big man on the first three-peat of the Chicago Bulls from 1991-1993 with Jackson. Furthermore, he was an assistant under Jackson on the last two of the Bulls’ six championships and served as head coach in Chicago for over two seasons. Like Rambis, he would implement Jackson’s philosophies but has not had success as a head coach. In his two-plus seasons as a head coach, Cartwright finished with a 51-100 record. Both men have outside chances at the job, but it is more likely that either could be brought on as assistant coaches.