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What is Plan B for Knicks, Phil Jackson?

May 15, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

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Steve Kerr was not only Plan A for Phil Jackson and the Knicks, he was the only plan. Jackson has not had a serious, sit down conversation with anyone else. Kerr was the guy. He was the lone target.

Kerr is now the head coach of the Golden State Warriors.

It’s a blow to any Knicks fan who simplistically believed “Phil Jackson is here, our problems are solved.” His mere presence does not solve all the Knicks’ problems. Even if Jackson is good at this job it’s going to take time — read: years — to really right this ship.

So what is Plan B for the Knicks after Kerr?

There doesn’t seem to be a great one, not one that’s going to be a great sell for Knicks fans. Phil Jackson does not have a large coaching tree to draw from and the names on the list are not going to be big and sexy enough to make the Big Apple happy. There will be disappointed fans.

What Jackson needs to find is someone who can help build a new culture in New York. The changes Jackson wants to bring to the franchise are about a dramatic shift in how things are done, a change in the status quo, and he needs a coach with the strength of personality to help pull that off. I’m just not sure if he can find that guy.

Here is a list of names that have been mentioned. They are in no particular order:

• No, Phil Jackson is not coming down to the bench. Not happening. Zero chance. He is done coaching, so stop asking.

Kurt Rambis. He is a Phil Jackson protegé, but he is also a guy that won 32 games in Minnesota — in two years. He was far from loved by his players. He has been a weak head coach at his stops, never commanded the respect of top players, and has seemed out of his depth in the role. And you want to sell him to New York as the answer?

• Brian Shaw. He is the coach of the Denver Nuggets, the question is can he be pried out of his three-year deal? What kind of compensation would be needed to make this work? The cost seems steep, if he were available at all. That said, Shaw is a coach with plenty of triangle experience.

• Tom Thibodeau. He is under contract in Chicago is unlikely the Bulls let Thibodeau walk anywhere — especially the Knicks. Despite some friction with GM Gar Forman management in Chicago knows Thibs is at the heart of what the Bulls have become. That said, he could help create a culture of winning and responsibility in NYC.

Derek Fisher. Don’t laugh, he might be my dark horse pick. He’s a natural leader, he is respected by other players, he knows the system, and Jackson trusts him. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN and other sources have said it could happen.

• Tyronn Lue. A former Jackson player who is now an assistant coach for Doc Rivers, one well respected around the league. (Marc Stein of ESPN floated this name first.) Not a big name, not necessarily a triangle guy, but someone to keep an eye on.

  1. phillyguyindc - May 15, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    I know you said not to, but I am laughing at the Derek Fisher pick. Patrick Ewing makes as much, if not more sense than any of those guys.

    • illmatic8582 - May 15, 2014 at 8:35 AM

      He doesn’t know the triangle.

      • phillyguyindc - May 15, 2014 at 8:56 AM

        Yeah, you’re right so I guess I would put some of those guys over Ewing. Learning the triangle isn’t exactly splitting the atom though.

      • money2long - May 15, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        Doesn’t know the triangle ? He should’ve paid attention in preschool.

      • asimonetti88 - May 15, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        “Learning the triangle isn’t exactly splitting the atom though.”

        Erm… it’s hard enough learning to play in the triangle… learning to teach it is another story. It may not be splitting the atom, but it’s a fairly complex system that requires a lot of buy in from coaches and players to be on the same page.

      • phillyguyindc - May 15, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        This is good discussion, I like it. I think I may blow up the internet with the next comment but what if they don’t run the Triangle =O. I know, I know, Phil the guru of the triangle, but if you are limiting yourself to coaching candidates who know the triangle, you’re limited in the number of candidates. How many people still run the triangle or have played in it and in coaching? If the list of people in the article is the people eligible for this gig, can you be excited about any of them? Not a Knicks fan obviously but that’s not an impressive list.

        I know they were talking about the guy from witchita state as well in previous articles. Does he know the triangle?

  2. cowboysfaninbuffalove - May 15, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    Take Brian Shaw out of Denver…As a nuggets fan I would be thrilled Shaw looked lost last season and I would gladly take George Karl back

  3. metalhead65 - May 15, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    you have to love delusional knicks fans who think jackson would step in and be the coach. he said he is done coach and what in his NBA coaching background would lead you to believe he would take over a rebuilding team? he needs at least 2 superstars and role players already in place before even considering it. what will be interesting is if he gives the guy he does choose time to develop the team he gives him and finish the job or does he can him when he does not win it all when he thinks the team is ready? in other words does he phil jackson him? you know do all the hard work of building the team only to be canned just as they are ready to win.

    • asimonetti88 - May 15, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      “what in his NBA coaching background would lead you to believe he would take over a rebuilding team? he needs at least 2 superstars and role players already in place before even considering it.”

      I’m a Lakers fan, and Phil is not going to coach again. But this statement is just wrong. I guess you never paid attention to the 2005-06 Lakers that Phil came back to coach?

      • casualcommenter - May 15, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        Agreed. Jackson has been willing to take over a roster with just 1 superstar (Kobe) before, and the Knicks have that if they keep Carmelo.

        So it’s not the lack of superstars that makes me believe Phil is done coaching. It’s his age combined with the fact that the Knicks are at least 1 year away from fielding a competitive roster even if they keep Carmelo. They’ll also need intensive coaching the next 2 years as they learn new systems on offense and defense and ideally integrate key new role players in the 2015 offseason, so any Knicks head coach has to be prepared to work ridiculously long hours. The Knicks won’t have a veteran roster that can be handled on autopilot.

  4. hojo20 - May 15, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    Might as well just hire Isaiah Thomas and make it a 3 ring circus.

    • brookwell2013 - May 15, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      Ha! Nicley put! Let’s see, Thomas has destroyed The Toronto Raotors once, he bankrupted the CBA when he ran it into the ground, and, oh yeah, he crippled the Knicks with his buddy Dolan for 10 years with hsi idiotic moves……yeah, bring Thomas back to the circus!! The Knicks are pathetic…..Phil is in a really tough spot.

    • sonnysuave - May 15, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Phil : “I have the ’92 Bulls players here in my office. Since you refused to shake their hands when they spanked you in the ’92 playoffs… if you do so now & finally accept your defeat like a man… you can be my coach. Also… you will learn to LOVE the triangle system, that ended your career!”

  5. tccoats - May 15, 2014 at 9:01 AM

    Knicks are a trainwreck with or without Phil Jackson….

    • asimonetti88 - May 15, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      People make fun of the Knicks for pursuing Kerr, then make fun of them when he goes somewhere else… which is it?

      • duhwighthoward - May 15, 2014 at 10:25 AM

        Both. The Knicks are a joke, don’t you get it?

      • mogogo1 - May 15, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        Pursuing Kerr wasn’t really the problem in itself. But making him the only candidate was just asking for trouble. Give Kerr credit, he instantly realized the leverage he had and totally used it to his advantage.

        I’m a huge Phil Jackson fan–but of the legendary coach; I don’t know anything about his GM abilities. Not sure which is more troubling: Him having a single candidate which is a violation of Business 101, the single candidate having no prior coaching experience, or the single candidate leaving Phil at the altar. Not a great start to his GM career no matter how you look at it.

  6. sdelmonte - May 15, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    I was never sold on Kerr. I just accepted that Phil knows what he’s doing. Only he’s never hired a coach before. This could be a sign of the Zenmaster meeting the Peter Principle.

    I like the idea of Derek Fisher, but that would be as risky as Kerr. Can’t really say anyone else out there feels like a good match. (OK, Thibs, but that isn’t happening.)

    • mogogo1 - May 15, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      He actually sort of did hire a coach recently. The Pistons paid him to consult and they ended up with Maurice Cheeks.

      • sdelmonte - May 15, 2014 at 10:56 AM

        That makes me feel so much better.

  7. reesesteel23 - May 15, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    Fish is trying to replace Scott Brooks lol

  8. azarkhan - May 15, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    Steve Kerr must have wanted to slap Phil Jackson in the face for a long time, because that’s exactly what he did by signing with Golden State.

  9. blantoncollier - May 15, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Jimmy Cleamons is available. What about Tex Winter?

    • bougin89 - May 15, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      Dude, Tex Winter was old when the Bulls had MJ…he’s 92 years old now.

      • mogogo1 - May 15, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        Let’s just say he’s got lots of experience and is well-seasoned.

      • bougin89 - May 15, 2014 at 11:16 AM

        He may need some travel restrictions…lol

      • asimonetti88 - May 15, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        If not for WWII, Tex Winter would have graduated college before Phil Jackson was born lol

      • blantoncollier - May 15, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        Dude–its called a joke. There is no plan. Or wasnt when this was posted.

      • bougin89 - May 15, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        Haha. Don’t sweat it, it’s not like I took your post seriously. Which is why I started my reply with “Dude,”

  10. kb2408 - May 15, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Mark Jackson. Either scrap the triangle (unlikely) or teach it to him.

    • gudy2shoes - May 15, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      Mark would be popular with Knick fans.

    • apkyletexas - May 15, 2014 at 1:36 PM

      Mark gets my vote.

  11. earpaniac - May 15, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Reading this just reminds me of how screwed up the Knicks are. Isiah and whoever else is responsible should never be let near a team again.

  12. onlyavoice - May 15, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Well let’s see, Phil signs a washed up crack head (Odom),
    then wants DOOGIE HOWSER (AKA Steve Kerr) to coach the team (NO EXPERIENCE).
    Phil is really showing his intellect.
    Melo is sure to have his bags packed.
    Phil signed for 1 reason, to appease his over inflated ego, because LA didn’t want anything
    to do with him. (I DON’T Blame Them)
    Just another expensive train wreck for the Knicks.

  13. program33 - May 15, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    I know one of the reasons why Kerr decided not to go with Knicks. It will be a tough job. And who would want to be a puppet. It seems to this fan that Phil would be micro managing big time. He will be in the practices. He will be talking with players almost as if he was coaching the team himself. The incoming “coach” will probably one day find himself in the position of a lame duck. A coach wants to be the leader and command the respect of the players and be able to make his own mistakes. If the team does improve the coach should deserve a lot of the credit. An incoming established and well respected coach would probably ultimately not be happy although collecting a pay check. How does one established and respected coach negotiate the terms with a dominate personality such as Phil Jackson and tell him to “stay out of my practices”. Which explains why Mr. Jackson was looking for a coach with no experience. Oh well it’s early yet we shall see how it turns out. Both coaching job offers are tough but at least the Warriors are currently on the right path of winning.This is just an opinion.

    • hwatt - May 15, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      yeah didn’t Phil say something like “I will coach [Melo] THROUGH Kerr”. probably not the best sales pitch for guys signing up to be control freaks.

    • katra2logic - May 15, 2014 at 3:04 PM

      Joe Lacob of Golden State was also looking for a lackey (that at why they dumped Jackson and why SVG signed with Detroit). I guess Steve prefers being a lackey to one over the other or his Golden State contract has a better ‘Golden parachute’ clause…

      • katra2logic - May 15, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        Please update the forum software so we can edit spelling and grammar errors, at least for a few minutes while posting. Thank-you.

  14. jzone954 - May 15, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    No worries, at least you all have Brooklyn right? I actually feel for knick fans. All that rah rah and this to how for it? There would’ve been no greater match up for the NBA then miami vs Knicks in the EC, but Knicks obviously couldn’t hold up there end of the bargain. Giggle, giggle….

  15. taron2in1 - May 15, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Lue would be a good choice. He just needs a opportunity!!!! Sixer fan:)

  16. csbanter - May 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    Do you get the feeling Phil Jackson doesn’t want to hire a proven guy because he wants to receive all the accolades should the Knicks become a title contender ? What good is the triangle without MJ, Scottie, Kukoc, Kobe or Gasol ? Phil’s ego and $50 mil brought him out of retirement, not the never ending quest by the Knicks organization to win a title.

    • sportsfan18 - May 15, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      I tend to think Phil returning to NYC goes more like this…

      Phil played for the Knicks and won two titles with them..

      Then, AFTER winning a title as a player, he went on to a great coaching career where he won 11 titles to go with his two as a player.

      Then, after his career was over, he thought about being able to run a team. I think he wanted to run the Lakers but the Buss kids (other than Jeanie of course) did not want him to run the Lakers from the front office as their president.

      So, being a highly competitive man and having played for the Knicks, he saw the mess they were in and he knew that if he was able to go in there and turn them around and win a championship it would be great for everyone who like the Knicks, their fans and certainly for Phil and his legacy.

      It would mean he would have won titles as a player, a coach and while running a team…

      Ego? Yeah, he like others at the top levels of pro sports has an ego.

      Money? Never hurts but he wasn’t going to go hungry even if he never got one penny from the Knicks.

  17. mannyicey - May 15, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    It’s gonna be Mark Jackson. It makes too much sense. And if you can’t walk into the interview room and show that you know the Triangle offense, you can’t coach anyway. Go read a book (or watch a few YouTube videos.)

    But the Knicks doesn’t have the personnel to run the Triangle. So they need to run something else (or get a perennial scoring champ.)

    • sportsfan18 - May 16, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      Mark Jackson would be a terrible hire for them.

  18. 1harrypairatesties - May 15, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Why is Tom Thibadoeu on this list or any teams coaching wish list? He’s under contract & the Bulls are not just going to decapitate themselves! There would be rioting in the streets of Chicago.

  19. detlefschrempfriedrice - May 15, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    Mark Jackson should be plan B, all the reasons have already been said..

    LOL@Tyronn Lue, c’mon man he’s got PTSD from the Iverson incident

  20. southbeachtalent - May 15, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Jackie Moon?

  21. xli2006 - May 15, 2014 at 11:09 PM

    Mark Jackson, John Calipari, Tom Izzo, Brian Shaw, or Doc Rivers (if he just wants out of the Clippers fiasco).

    If they hire Tyronn Lue who has been mentioned that would be epically hilarious.

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