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Who should Knicks get as coach? First pick a system, stick to it.

Mar 14, 2012, 6:13 PM EDT

Knicks' Lin walks up-court during game against Kings in New York's Madison Square Garden Reuters

I don’t know what the Knicks are going to do next because I’d have an easier time guessing what the Kardashian sisters are thinking than reading James Dolan’s mind.

In the wake of Mike D’Antoni’s sudden firing/resignation/whatever Wednesday there are a lot questions about what is next and who will be the Knicks coach next season — Phil Jackson, John Calipari, Jeff Van Gundy, Jerry Sloan (and we’ll get to them, keep reading).

But honestly, that is not the first question that needs to be answered. The coaching choice flows out of another bigger question:

What kind of team do the Knicks want to be?

Their current roster doesn’t fit any one system very well. It certainly does not mesh with Mike D’Antoni’s “seven seconds or less” but it really doesn’t fit a defense first style, the triangle or even a lot of traditional offensive sets. Jeremy Lin, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire are pick-and-roll guys (and Stoudemire seems to be in some decide this season). Carmelo Anthony wants to get the ball elbow extended and face up for an isolation. J.R. Smith wants to shoot any time he’s inside half court. It doesn’t blend.

The Knicks need to decide who they want to be, then pick a coach that fits that style and start tweaking the roster to match. There is not one style that can win a title in the NBA, but to have a shot at that ring an organization needs to be committed to whatever style they choose from the ownership down to the kids with round Swiffer thing that wipes the sweat off the floor. The GM has to get role players that fit the system. The coach has to believe in the system and get the players to believe.

Right now the Knicks are a collection of odd-fitting pieces. New York has talent and can mold the roster to win, but they need to pick a system and stick with it.

As for the coaches, well that ties into the systems.

• Phil Jackson will be the first choice but I would be stunned if he took the job. He’ll be tempted — he has a great affinity for New York and the Knicks — but I watched him up close the last few years and my impression is he is done as a coach. He’s had both hips replaced, he’s had knee surgery after his retirement. He doesn’t want the travel, the grind of it any more. No amount of money will change that (he’s loaded already). His legacy is he already more championship rings than any coach ever. He’ll look at the hot mess that is the Knicks, compare that to the life of semi-retirement he enjoys, and say no thank you.

Besides, this roster does not work for the triangle at all. The point guard excels at pick and rolls but little else, the center is not a great passer, Stoudemire is a pick-and-roll guy and Anthony makes the ball stop in the offense more than Kobe Bryant. Yes, Anthony can pass and hit the elbow jumper when he wants to — but will he really do that or would he break the sets like he did with D’Antoni so often.

• Jeff Van Gundy’s name will come up, but you can’t go home again. Plus, do you really think he wants to try and get this group to play defense every night? Woodson (and D’Antoni) got about the most out of this roster on that end as can be expected.

• John Calipari would be interesting. Some teams in the NBA run bits of his motion offense but certainly not to the extent Kentucky does. Player relations has always been a strength of Calipari, who is a better game coach than he gets credit for — but that doesn’t make him great at it. Bottom line — you can’t just recruit world-beating talent in the NBA (well, unless you are Pat Riley), you have to coach. Can Calipari do that? Right now Calipari is denying everything, trying to focus on the NCAA Tournament with Kentucky.

• Jerry Sloan is reportedly interested. The former Jazz head coach is a my-way-or-the-highway, old-school hard-a**. Knicks fans should not want this to happen. New York tabloid headline writers are praying this does happen.

  1. nokoolaidcowboy - Mar 14, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    What team do they want to be? Ask Dolan. He holds the purse strings and is more than happy to remind the next coach.
    This organization had Lenny Wilkins and still…

    • losangelasbasketball - Mar 14, 2012 at 7:45 PM


  2. shockexchange - Mar 14, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    Anyone who thinks Phil Jackson is going to coach the Knicks is out they rabbit #$@!?%#$%! minds. Phil only coaches winners … If you don’t have Jordan or Shaq on your team then forget about it.

  3. trbowman - Mar 14, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Carmelo Anthony is a cancer.

    • gavilansalvaje - Mar 14, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      ‘melo should be the coach! He can institute the ‘melo-head offense where someone imbounds the ball to ‘melo, and ‘melo shoots. If ‘melo misses, everyone else rebounds and gets the ball back to ‘melo who shoots again. The ‘melo-head defense will be…

  4. billymc75 - Mar 14, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Jaimie Dixon

  5. kxlllxst - Mar 14, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    Why shouldn’t Knicks fans want Jerry Sloan to happen? I don’t care how upset he makes JR Smith or Melo or whoever is sulking and not playing their part.

  6. joj0420 - Mar 14, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    couldnt agree more with you trbowman. he clearly was the problem in denver and with him coming back from his injury knicks have totally sucked. hes prob one of the biggest ballhogs that cant get the points. he needs 50 shots a night. trade em cut em hes the problem and you wont win it with him denver found that out.

  7. frakfrakfrak - Mar 14, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    Who cares who is the coach or what system the Knicks run.Dolan thinks you can put a bunch of random stars together and it will equal wins and championships. That works in NBA2k, not real life.

  8. lakerluver - Mar 14, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Jerry Sloan or Van Gundy is what the Knicks need but Calipari will make a bigger “splash”. And as we know NY is all about doing it big. That’s not to imply Coach Cal’s not a great coach. Actually I think he is.

  9. connaniii - Mar 14, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Jerry Sloan!

  10. honkerdawg - Mar 14, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Why not get Anthony to coach the team, he seems to have all the answers except one: being a winner!

  11. fastwillie39 - Mar 14, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Tommy Amaker…why not?

  12. rob0527 - Mar 14, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Let’s see what Woodson does. If the Knicks turn it around why not keep him. There r a lot of negatives to all listed coaches, so let’s hope Woodson turns them around and maybe we have our new coach. Don’t forget he was a good coach when he was with cavs.

  13. goforthanddie - Mar 14, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    Nate McMillan will be available at season’s end, and plays crawl-ball. Sloan would be a good choice too, someone unafraid to rip Mr. Vasquez a new exit.

  14. mrlitl - Mar 14, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    @shockexchange Phil won his last two rings without Jordan or Shaq. But he did have a Mamba…

  15. klownboy - Mar 14, 2012 at 10:46 PM

    D’Antoni’s time has run out. Time for a coach who preaches defense…

  16. shockexchange - Mar 15, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    @mrlitl Fair point. He also had two highly-skilled 7-footers, which in addition to Robert Horry, Jr., gave the Lakers exceptionally more talent than the rest of the league. You got more original point though – Jackson’s “zen” does not work on mediocre squads like the Knicks. But don’t take my word for … hold your breath until he inquires about the Knicks opening.

  17. njsteeler - Mar 15, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    It’s basketball people! Tired of hearing the pieces don’t fit. It’s about talent, and having a head coach that gets the best out of that talent. In my humble opinion the Knicks need to MAN THE F UP!! It was time for D’Antoni to bounce because he couldn’t maximize the talent on this team for whatever reason. Like I said, it’s still basketball, and if players aren’t playing up to their capabilities, or are not running your system then sit them down. Hopefully Woodson will do that in the time he has left. Steven A. made a great point when he said that this is not a guys team that has played 20 something games in the NBA. It’s about the stars that you are paying millions to perform. They are being paid because they have averaged 20 ppg, been named to All-Star, and Olympic teams. I like Lin, and he has a place on this team, but he is not, and should not be the focal point. I think Woodson is smart enough to realize this. Amare, and Melo are who they are, and have been successful enough in their careers that I don’t believe that they all of a sudden have forgotten how to play the game. Now hopefully they can get a coach that can get them back to their All-Star form. He can be named Woodson, Sloan or Jackson. Just get the job done. Something D’Antoni couldn’t do…

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