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Phil Jackson will coach through Steve Kerr, Knicks president reportedly tells Carmelo Anthony

May 2, 2014, 1:11 PM EDT

Phil Jackson Phil Jackson

Why is Phil Jackson so excited about Steve Kerr, someone with no experience, coaching the Knicks?

And more importantly, why should Carmelo Anthony be?

When Jackson and Melo sat down for dinner, the Knicks president explained.

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:

Knicks president Phil Jackson told free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony that he is fully expecting to hire Steve Kerr as the team’s next coach when Jackson and Anthony sat down for dinner in Manhattan last week, according to two people familiar with the matter.

In sitting down with Anthony, who has made it abundantly clear that he wants to play for a winning team next season, Jackson wanted to allay any concerns Anthony might have about Kerr’s inexperience as a coach. (Kerr, who played under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls, has never coached at any level.) Jackson tried to do that, the sources said, by telling Anthony that he’d be both visible and available on the sidelines while the team takes part in training camp.

“Phil wanted [Anthony] to know that Kerr and his thinking will simply be an extension of himself,” one of the sources said. “He wanted Carmelo to know he’ll still be able to coach him by extension.”

Jackson probably can no longer physically withstand the rigors of coaching, but everyone knows he’d be the best man for the job if he could. James Dolan tried to hire Jackson as head coach before settling for a front-office role, and Jackson himself entertained the idea before ruling it out.

Still, to pursue this path, Jackson must be very confident in himself. Rather than using all the Knicks’ money to hire a proven coach, he’s planning to hire Kerr – or another relatively low-stature former player – and coach through him.

The Knicks getting 100 percent of Jackson’s coaching would be great for them. Fifty percent or less? I’m not sold on that.

Plus, if Jackson is concentrated on coaching vicariously, how much time and energy will that leave for his other roles as team president?

This plan could work, but there will be a lot of hurdles. I guess that’s why the Knicks are paying Jackson $12 million per year.

  1. spursareold - May 2, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    Steve, come to NY and be my puppet.

    Yeah, that’s a great job sell.

    • aboogy123456 - May 2, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      why not? What better way to start out your coaching career than to be an apprentice to the best. I don’t see how Kerr could turn this down.

      • urodaddy07 - May 2, 2014 at 7:13 PM

        Yeah but no self respecting head coach in any sport wants to be a figure head, which in essence is what this is.

    • apkyletexas - May 2, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      The fact that the Lakers and other teams also want Kerr makes it clear he’s not just some idiot rookie coach.

      And Riley coached “through” Spoelstra for awhile, so this should be about the same.

      • zerole00 - May 2, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        I was just about to say this, Spoelstra and Kerr were/are apprentices and it sure worked out well for the former.

        In any case, of course Kerr’s going to be an extension of Jackson. If they’re not on the same page, you’re going to get a dumpster fire like what happened with the Lakers – they hired a coach without a roster designed for his style.

      • smoothaswilkes - May 2, 2014 at 1:44 PM

        Lakers are not interested in Kerr’s services. And they shouldn’t.

      • antistratfordian - May 2, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        The fact that Kerr is in demand doesn’t mean he isn’t “some idiot rookie coach.” You are far too trusting of the judgement of NBA front offices.

      • antistratfordian - May 2, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        @zerole00 – Spoelstra worked his way up over the course of 13 years in the same organization and earned his opportunity to be a head coach; he wasn’t just given a shot because of his celebrity, like Steve Kerr or Mark Jackson or Jason Kidd, etc.

      • urodaddy07 - May 2, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        Dude, this may be true, but you as a head coach were seen by your players as just a mouthpiece for your boss, and you just following some other guy’s orders, that just can’t work. It’s one thing to share a bidi on and even a common scheme, but this is a HEAD COACHING job. It’s not and apprenticeship. I’m sure he had a lot of advice from Riley, but for him to have any success, he would have had yo establish the respect of his superstar players

    • smoothaswilkes - May 2, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      Steve, I know you have zero coaching experience so why not start your coaching career here in NYC? With me, 11 Rings: The Soul of Success. It’ll be like getting a doctorate in NBA coaching. Best part, I’ll take all the heat for things that go wrong. How can you say no?

      Now that’s a great job sell.

      There I fixed it. You’re welcome, spursareold.

      • duhwighthoward - May 2, 2014 at 3:26 PM


    • antistratfordian - May 2, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      Who better for Kerr to learn from than Phil Jackson? I would think a greenhorn would jump at the chance to learn from a master.

    • mackcarrington - May 2, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      Another way to look at it is “come to NY and let me mentor you”.

    • eddit13 - May 2, 2014 at 3:58 PM

      How is it any different than Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra? I guess that didn’t work out right? Right.

      • urodaddy07 - May 2, 2014 at 7:15 PM

        And we know that he coached through Spoelstra how?

  2. smoothaswilkes - May 2, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    What a bargain. The Lakers paid PJ the same and all he had to do is coach. As crazy as it sounds PJ might have left money on the table with this deal.

    • zerole00 - May 2, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      Coaching is much more physically demanding than a front office job. Given how big a factor this has been for PJ the last couple years, I think he did well. Isn’t he the top paid executive in the NBA?

      • smoothaswilkes - May 2, 2014 at 1:50 PM

        The average NBA HC salary is $3.4 million. Doc is the highest at 7 per and he’s also has a front office position, if I’m not mistaken.

        PJ was making $12 million per as a coach with zero FO responsibility for years with the Lakers. My point being if PJ was already getting 12 as just a coach and that was three years ago, given his increased responsibilities and counting for inflation that he should arguably be making more than $12 million. Of course the fact that he’s got a 5 year contract probably offsets the pay increase. Not sure how much of that $60 million is guaranteed but I found it odd that Phil didn’t get more. With his symmetrical way of of thinking, I thought he’d go for at least $13 million – one for each of his rings as a player and coach.

  3. jcmeyer10 - May 2, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    They are probably going to get some rad walkie talkies.

    • fm31970 - May 2, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      PJ seems more like a two-tin-cans-and-long-piece-of-string kind of guy, no?

  4. aboogy123456 - May 2, 2014 at 1:46 PM

    I think that all the best coaches in the league are also very smart individuals, pop, doc, carlisle, etc. That’s why I was always skeptical of Mark Jackson, because in his broadcasting and his public comments he would always prove that he isn’t a smart guy. I think Kerr can be a great coach he comes off as a very logical and smart guy during his broadcasts, and I think he would do a good job teaching younger players.

  5. rrhoe - May 2, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Seems like a win-win situation for Kerr if his pride allows for it. If the Knicks stink,which they will,all he has to say is “I did what Phil told me”,and the best part is he gets paid to do it.

  6. honkerdawg - May 2, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    This way Phil can take the credit and not really do anything; a Jackson trademark his whole career

  7. thenew013 - May 2, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Why don’t you just coach the team yourself? Oh yeah b/c you know the knicks wont be contending for anything anytime soon and you don’t want to ruin your successful reputation which in turn will obliterate your fragile ego. That’s how I honestly see it.

  8. spyder9669 - May 2, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Steve Kerr has just about as much coaching experience as Phil Jackson. Lets face it, Phil was about 1% responsible for those championships. Anybody who thinks differently needs their head examined.

    • aboogy123456 - May 2, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      Phil Jackson has coached about 1500 games or so in his career, so even if you were right and he only contributed 1%, that’s about 150 games more than Steve Kerr.

      • aboogy123456 - May 2, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        my bad, bad math. 15 games

    • zerole00 - May 2, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      I realize you’re probably trolling, but if you honestly think someone can luck themselves to 11 championships – you were dropped on your head as a child.

  9. jolink653 - May 2, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Not to be the math police here, but 1% of 1,500 is not 150. Knock off another 0 and you’re there.

    Who better for Kerr to learn from the Phil Jackson? I’d rather have a more experienced coach, but Phil wants to put his system in place, and Kerr always struck me as a smart player. Hopefully that translates to coaching if he comes here

  10. cubb1 - May 2, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    Not even Phil Jackson as GM can fix the train wreck that is the New York Knicks. If Donnie Walsh couldn’t clean up the hot steaming mess that James Dolan keeps dumping in Madison Square Garden every season, Phil Jackson definitely can’t mop it up.

  11. jattsoorma - May 2, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    I can see this ending badly….

  12. cpcheung - May 2, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Phil Jackson should just let Carmelo Anthony to become a free agent instead of wasting too much time and energy trying to convince him.

  13. cpcheung - May 2, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    Carmelo Anthony is a major obstruction to Phil Jackson’s rebuild plan and is too expensive to retain. Jackson should just let Carmelo Anthony to become a free agent instead of wasting too much time and energy trying to convince him.

  14. marcusfitzhugh - May 2, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    cpcheung wrote Melo is an obstruction to Phil’s plan? So you’ve seen Phil’s plan? Do tell. BTW, Melo is a free agent. The Knicks have the right to offer him more money than anyone else, but if he wanted to play for Cleveland for a dollar thirty-five a year, he could.

    Its funny, many people go on and on about what won’t work. Phil can’t do this, Steve Kerr can’t do that, yet they never give a solution. Here’s a solution – Phil’s going to hire a coach. Since Phil has more rings, Phil is going to tell that coach what he will and won’t do. If the coach doesn’t like it, there are trains leaving Penn Station all the time. That’s why ex-coach Woody say he could teach the triangle – because Phil Jackson is in charge. Not cpcheung, not the NY Post, not Jerry Reinsdorf (who would like to have NY sign and trade Melo for garbage), but Jax. Those that don’t like it can go downstairs at 33rd and 7th and hop a train.

    • bhunter1995 - May 2, 2014 at 11:56 PM

      @Marcus The Knicks can offer an extra year to Melo that is not leaving money on the table because Melo can sign an extension a couple years into his next contract if its another team (the same thing D12 is going to do in HOU). Another thing, if Melo plays in a state with lower taxes then NY he will make more then he would in NY even if his yearly salary would have been higher with the Knicks.

  15. mogogo1 - May 2, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    Phil is an amazingly gifted coach. If he wants to coach the team, he should do so. If he wants to run the front office, he should do that. But it won’t work trying to do both at the same time.

    • urodaddy07 - May 2, 2014 at 7:18 PM

      Totally agree with this. One thing to have input, which I’m sure Kerr would not refuse, but yo say you’re gonna coach through someone, who’s your head coach, that’s not inspiring confidence. That’s emasculating. How would he command any respect in the locker room?

  16. pacers24 - May 2, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    What an amazing train wreck this is going to be! haha

  17. nard100 - May 2, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    Too bad MJ (in his prime) can’t play “by extension” for the Knicks. That would help far more that coaching by extension.

  18. onlyavoice - May 2, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    Look through Melo’s eye’s,
    Jacksons 1st signing is a washed up crack head (Odom)
    Jacksons coach to lead Melo & the Knicks to a championship is Doogie Howser (AKA Steve Kerr),
    who has ZERO coaching experience.
    Jackson takes Melo to dinner & tells him to take Millions less, even more than opposing teams
    can sign him for.
    Jackson is about to set the franchise back to a lottery team, then bolt in 2015 when no big name signs with the Knicks (he’ll claim health issues LOL)
    The No Clue President has no clue.
    (See Melo, See Melo Run, See Melo Run As Fast As He Can)

  19. beach305 - May 2, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    lesson one: in order to win u must have superstars

    lesson two: if u don’t have lesson one then retire.

  20. Dan Gershenson - May 2, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    I’m trying to figure out how the Knicks can do anything of significance in terms of signing free agents that are going to make a difference…until 2015. That’s at least 2 years of Anthony’s prime years that will suck because Phil or no Phil, this team is a dysfunctional mess and they can’t move anybody.

    What, is Carmelo going to take such a massive pay cut that LeBron is coming? Wow, is that ever delusional.

    People can poke fun if they want at the Bulls exiting early, but Chicago is a way better option for Carmelo than NY. Easily.

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