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Report: Steve Kerr would rather coach West Coast team than Knicks

Apr 22, 2014, 9:39 AM EDT

Kevin Ollie, Steve Kerr Kevin Ollie, Steve Kerr

The Steve Kerr-to-the-Knicks story has really gotten out ahead of itself.

Not only does Phil Jackson reportedly want to hire Kerr as New York’s head coach, Kerr reportedly wants the position.

Yet, each side continue to express interest in the other through the media. Why not just make the hire?

Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

Kerr is eying several potential openings around the league, according to sources, and he would prefer to stay on (or near) the West Coast. Kerr lives in San Diego, and he has a daughter attending college at Cal, in Berkeley. Contrary to a New York Post report, Kerr has not asked TNT for schedule flexibility in order to take the Knicks job, according to two sources with Turner Sports. (Disclosure: Turner also owns Bleacher Report.)

I count three West Coast jobs with potential openings: Lakers, Warriors and Trail Blazers. Plus, Utah – which, unlike those three, actually has a vacancy – is actually closed to San Diego than Portland.

It would shock nobody if the Lakers fire Mike D’Antoni, but after years of not re-hiring Jackson, why would they go for a Jackson disciple? If the Lakers wanted to move on from the Jackson era, that’s at least understandable. But turning to someone like Kerr rather than just hiring Jackson in the first place is not.

The Warriors should not fire Mark Jackson, even though, in nearly every way besides on-court performance, his Warriors look dysfunctional. Rifts with assistant coaches, strange and needless disputes with players, defensive bursts with the media. But on-court performance matters a great deal, and Jackson just led Golden State to its best record in 22 years and has its best overall coaching record since Bill Sharman (1966-68).

Similarly, despite leaving the question open, the Trail Blazers probably won’t dump Terry Stotts. I’m not as high on Stotts’ coaching ability as others, but he just helped Portland end a two-season playoff drought by going 54-28 in a tough conference. He definitely deserves the benefit of the doubt – and a contract extension.

That leaves Utah, which could be a good fit. As I wrote yesterday, the Jazz could look for a promising coach who lacks experience and needs a season to grow on the job. That’s Kerr, who has never coached. If Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey wants a defensive-minded and analytical coach, Kerr could certainly fit.

But that’s only one opening, and maybe the Jazz don’t have interest in Kerr.

That brings us back to the Knicks, whom Beck reports are also interested in Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg and and Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie. Beck:

Hoiberg never played for Jackson, but did play in the triangle offense for the Bulls, under Tim Floyd. Hoiberg has made a name for himself at Iowa State and Jackson “thinks highly of him,” according to one source. Jackson also likes Ollie, who guided Connecticut to the 2014 national championship.

“He’s going to talk to a lot of people,” a league source said of Jackson.

If I were hiring an NBA coach, I’d like those two, too. They’ve done fantastic jobs in college, coaching with styles that would seemingly translate well to the NBA. That both had lengthy NBA careers at least relaxes my usual concerns about college coaches moving up to the NBA.

But, really, this seems like more posturing. I still predict Kerr will become the Knicks’ next coach. There’s too much smoke here to project anyone else taking the job.

If I had to guess, the Knicks and Kerr are just trying to create the illusion of uncertainty. One, it gives the appearance the Knicks are being thorough in their search. Two, it protects Kerr from criticism for being hastily hired or getting the job due to his relationship with Jackson rather than his coaching acumen.

Eventually, the Knicks and/or Kerr must commit to wanting to join forces. Then, we’ll know how the other side truly feels.

  1. unxpexted1 - Apr 22, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Kevin Ollie is a really interesting choice. Almost like Kerr, someone with limited or no coaching experience but wildly respected. I think Ollie seems to have the personality to command an NBA team better than Kerr’s very laid back personality. Not sure it would work, but obviously Phil wants somebody to mold. Could be worse choices out there than Ollie

    • bucrightoff - Apr 22, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      Ollie is probably waiting to see what happens in OKC. If they flame out and Brooks gets fired, Ollie is very well liked and respected by the Thunder players from when he was there as a player. Plus smaller market team with cheaper owner means less job pressure than a New York or LA.

      • therealhtj - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        Both Ollie and Kerr are LA area High School legends who came up during the Showtime era.

        Coaching two top 7 players including the reigning MVP in OKC comes with its own set of pressures.

        Phil may be a legend, but the cap rules haven’t changed, and New York will still be a bubble playoff team at best. If Melo bolts, they’ll be fighting to avoid an all-time worst record.

        To think they aren’t holding tight to see what happens with the Lakers gig is shortsighted.

      • sawick48 - Apr 22, 2014 at 7:18 PM

        you know who likes Kevin Ollie more? Jim Calhoun. battle of the legends the edge goes to the mentor……also dont bite on those Ollie to okc rumors at automatic, guy literally bleeds blue, and the school pays to keep what works (in basketball anyway)

    • spursareold - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      Steve Kerr is so laid back that he and MJ traded punches in practice.

    • duhwighthoward - Apr 22, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      Ollie is not an interesting choice. He is not being considered for the position, so why do you even bring it up?

      He just signed a $7 million extension. No way an NBA team would pay him that much.

  2. alexb1234 - Apr 22, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    nothing gets reported anymore, everything is leaked from “sources” – everybody just calm down and let the knicks actually interview a candidate before someone is anoited the head coach of the team

  3. phillyguyindc - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    You mean all the articles on here about Kerr to NY and it might not happen?! SHOCKED I tell you, SHOCKED that the media would jump to conclusions.

    Like alexb said, I guess we’re never going to get back to the point where things actually happen first and then get reported.

    I would probably rank Hoiberg first and then Ollie and Kerr following him because I do believe actual coaching experience matters- especially if you are going to be dealing with Melo (if he stays obviously), but none really jump off the page at me.

  4. kclanton80 - Apr 22, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    I don’t see why any coach with a choice would want to coach the knicks. Just because Phill Jackson is there doesn’t mean players are going to be rushing to join the team. He is not even coaching after all, just the GM. The knicks scapegoat and fire their coach about every 2-3 years. Who wants to deal with that? Weather Melo stays or leaves, this team has bad contracts and a lack of talent.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      I think a lot of coaches would be turned off because Jackson is there. Would you feel like you were actually the coach? This is probably why PJ may be forced to go with a younger, more moldable candidate.

      And I think a lot of players will be attracted to the Knicks specifically because the combination of Jackson as a leader and the Great City as a setting. Plus, Madison Square Garden. Mecca. It’s a dream scenario for a great many basketball dreamers.

  5. vanmorrissey - Apr 22, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    If Kerr is actually a good friend of Jackson’s I would think Phil is warning him, run the other way, stay as far away from New York as possible. For a rookie coach it would eat you up and with the cap crap, they won’t succeed for another 3 – 5 years or so by which time he’d have coached already (utah?), gotten his experience, and be able to take over the meat grinder in NY. Stay out west, Steve, smart move.

  6. redbaronx - Apr 22, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    This stuff about Mark Jackson being difficult should stop. Was Billy Martin of the Yankees the easiest coach to get along with? Hell no! Steinbrenner fired him twice for being a drunk and insubordinate. But you know what else Billy Martin was? The kind of guy that fired his players up to win banners.

    Mark Jackson deserves a chance because above all the other nonsense, his players evidently love him by all accounts. You just can’t buy that! When players love coaches, and they love them not because of a lack of discipline, but because they make the team better, that is gold.

    Does anyone think Jerry Sloan was easy???

  7. antistratfordian - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    Kerr is a little picky for a guy that’s lucky that everyone forgot how poor of a GM he was.

  8. mbuda732 - Apr 22, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Real Knicks fans wants Mark Jackson. Players will listen to him, he is an Ex-Knick, fans will certainly be behind him, and he preaches unselfishness which is something the Knicks have had a major issue with. I would like to see us wait out the results of the first round series vs. the clippers before making any hirings.

  9. davidly - Apr 22, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    I never bought the Phil wants Kerr story. Sounds media driven to me, and the Kerr camp decided it wouldn’t hurt to sound enthusiastic. Now they’re spinning their way out of it and the Knicks ain’t really said squat.

    My guess: Shaw.

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