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Phil Jackson says he will not coach Knicks, Steve Kerr verbally committed before Warriors job came open

May 30, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT

New York Knicks Press Conference Getty Images

Phil Jackson is trying to change the culture of the New York Knicks. Which seems a lot like the job Sisyphus had, but Jackson is trying. This has been easily the most secrative, paranoid organization in the NBA, one that guarded the mundane as if it were classified troop locations in Afganistan.

Jackson’s arrival brought hope to New York fans, but his arrival has not seen the hiring of a sexy new coach — or any coach — and Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been swayed from testing the free agent market. Neither of which is really a big deal, but when you’ve been expected to walk across the Hudson and turn water into wine — or convert the Knicks roster into a contender — any setback real or imagined becomes a story.

Jackson broke with tradition and spoke to the media again on Thursday, as reported by Ian Begley at

Those topics started with this: No, he’s not going to coach the Knicks. For the millionth time no.

On the prospect of Jackson himself taking over the team, the 13-time world champion said, “at this point, unless the Lord heals me” he wouldn’t be physically able to coach.

He said that the idea he could coach for one season as a “transition period” and hand over the reins to another coach next year has been discussed. But Jackson said that’s not an idea that he’s comfortable with.

What Jackson reiterated is he wants a coach he has worked with before. And yes, that means he is waiting on Derek Fisher (who is a tad busy still as the backup point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder).

(Jackson) also addressed the Knicks’ ongoing coaching search, saying that he has interviewed several candidates. He referred to Thunder guard Derek Fisher as “a person that’s on my list of guys that could be very good candidates for this job.”

As for the one that got away — Steve Kerr — Jackson said he thought he had a deal in place but that all turned when Mark Jackson was fired in Golden State.

“Unfortunately for him, he committed to me the day before the job opened with Golden State. So I had to kind of release him to actually go to this job and say you have to do what’s right for yourself,” Jackson said. “I understood entirely the process he was going through to have that job open up. That was something he kind of thought would be a good fit for him. So that’s good, we’re happy for him.”

There were also questions about the Knicks other big issue this summer — Carmelo Anthony becoming a free agent. Anthony almost certainly will test the free agent waters this summer (he reportedly said he wants the “full Dwight Howard treatment” in terms of being recruited” but Jackson is trying to talk him out of that.

Jackson said Friday that he has talked to Anthony about the possibility of opting in to the final year of his deal and testing free agency in the summer of 2015, to which Anthony said he’d “think about it.”

Jackson said he “not losing sleep” over the idea Anthony could bolt this summer — the Bulls and Rockets are among a number of teams expected to make a run — but he is concerned Anthony could leave. If so, he says they will rebuild without him.

No Anthony would mean a very rough next season in New York, but clearing the decks of salary by the summer of 2015 could be a cleaner path to a total restructuring of this roster. Which is needed.

  1. cantonb0und13 - May 30, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    What a pathetic franchise.

    • cantonbound13 - May 30, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      You would know about being pathetic. So coward, it took you a couple of days to show up after your Heat lost. Pathetic troll!

      • cantonb0und13 - May 30, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        And why are you keeping track when I post? You’re obsessed with me. I need a restraining order.

      • cantonbound13 - May 30, 2014 at 7:54 PM

        Obsessed with you???? You are a true moron. You copy my name & you say obsessed with you?

    • cantonb0und13 - May 30, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      No, I’m not here 24/7 like you.

  2. katra2logic - May 30, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Phil was smart to let Steve go to Golden State. Whoever becomes coach for the NY Knicks, they will need to be 100% committed as there is a lot of work to be done…

    • stayhigh_247 - May 31, 2014 at 6:44 PM

      If he gave his word then bounced to Golden State I can’t respect that.

  3. sumkat - May 30, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    The Knicks problem is, was, and will continue to be, that they think they are the Lakers east, and players just want to play for them. There is 1 huge component that the Lakers have which is lacking in NY, a winning tradition.

    PJ being there is nice, but he’s a proven coach, not a proven front office man. People aren’t going to line up to go there until and if he proves he can do it from the front office. Which, if Melo does leave and they have to build through the draft (i guess they have SOME picks left), will be just as much of a crapshoot for him than it is for any other team. More importantly, does anyone believe Dolan will accept 3-4 years of being awful? That is basically what will be required to fully clean out this roster, then begin to fill it back up with talent.

    • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - May 30, 2014 at 3:59 PM

      I agree that we think everyone wants to play for us because of NYC but not with we think we are the Lakers. I dont think any of us Knick fans think we are the lakers. However we do over value NYC…..

      • lbeezyse - May 30, 2014 at 4:21 PM

        Winning traditions are good and all, but the current state of the Lakers roster isn’t going to get them any top free agents. Guys like Melo & Love want to join teams that are missing that final piece to win a championship. Oh look what Lebron started.

        I think there is going to be a 5-10 year window before either Lakers West or East are worth anything. The Lakers & Knicks might have to build there teams for a change. If Miami disbands we will start seeing a shift of powers. TBD.

  4. antistratfordian - May 30, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    Bad karma for Kerr.

    • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - May 30, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      Ehhh, doing wrong to people to get ahead would be bad karma. While I think he showed he didnt have the stones for the job its his life and his choice….

      • antistratfordian - May 30, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        He went back on his word. That is doing someone wrong. If he committed to Phil, he should’ve kept his commitment.

        To me it reveals a weakness in Kerr’s character. If he was a man of virtue he would be the head coach of the New York Knicks.

      • sportsfan18 - May 30, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        very few in pro sports are men of virtue…

      • nard100 - Jun 1, 2014 at 8:18 AM

        If that is true then someone in the Knicks org must have done some REALLY bad years ago, because they have sucked for what seems like forever. They have had only a few winning seasons and when so, barely so since 2000.

  5. chargerdillon - May 30, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    This just shows the genius of Phil. He had a coach in place who he ultimately knew could not give him all he really had as a coach with his family being on the west coast.

    This was the better move for both Phil and Steve as Steve is now closer to his family and Phil can continue to find somebody who’s fully invested in his program.

    Phil did business THE RIGHT WAY. Not just for Steve and Phil, but also for the Knicks. Tell me when the last time you could EVER say that about the Knicks organization.

    They don’t have a coach yet, but they do have a GM with the right frame of mind to hire a good one who wants to be a part of what Phil is creating.

    If there is hope for the Knicks, it rests with Phil.

    • bkbell3 - May 30, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      That’s crap, until someone signs a contract their is no commitment. Phil magnanimously let him Get off Phil’s johnson already. Kerr wanted to stay on the west coast because of family and Phil is just trying to spin it to look like it’s something he did in letting Kerr go.smh And my teams are the knicks and the Lakers and i’m not sold on phil the GM.Players go to teams for other players that can help them win not because of the GM. And that includes Riley in Miami.

      • chargerdillon - May 30, 2014 at 7:57 PM

        If you dont think Riley had a major influence in getting both Bosh and James to the Heat, then you’re pretty dense buddy.

      • bkbell3 - May 30, 2014 at 8:17 PM

        Number one i’m not your buddy. Number 2 Riley had no bearing on it except he was able to clear enough cap space to sign all three in a year when all three were free agents,kind of a once in a life time convergence of factors. It was the fact that wade and James were such good friends and wanted to play together and so did bosh combined with the cap space that made it happen. If their was another gm there at the time it still would of gone down the same and once those three were there other guys at the end of their careers like ray Allen decided to join them. Yes Riley had the vision to set it all up and he has some cachet but players go to teams that have players they think can help them win when the money is about the same. Not because of Riley who has been there for what, 15 years at least, just as Phil Jackson is going to find out in new york.

      • chargerdillon - May 30, 2014 at 8:42 PM

        u mad bro?

      • bkbell3 - May 30, 2014 at 11:29 PM

        Really, u mad bro? That’s what you got? Very original,no one ever says that, what are you, like five.smh

  6. jzone954 - May 30, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    No Kerr didn’t do anything wrong. A better opportunity opened up for him in his eyes for him and his family, any of us would do the same. Sure maybe he did verbally say something but things happen.

  7. bigbamboom1 - May 30, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    I don’t know if Phil realizes this. But he may really be insulting Carmelo Anthony. Phil didn’t sacrifice anything (money or perks) to join the Knicks. He offered a Broadcaster and former player (Steve Kerr) $5 million to coach the team. Even though he had never coached in his life. Yet he is asking Carmelo on a weekly basis to sacrifice money and flexibility “for the good of the team”. That’s a different request if your team is Championship ready. Versus something else if you’re rebuilding. I bet Carmelo is privately offended by how Phil is treating him right now and always publicly isolating him. He should tell phil to just move on. ANd bring a sign and trade deal to his table with Houston, Chicago, LA Clippers, Celtics or Lakers.

    • bigbamboom1 - May 30, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      BTW, before anyone disses the Celtics reference. Consider this. Boston has 2 very good first round picks in the upcoming draft. They also have a great young nucleus of talented players. They have a great young coach. And they have a healthy Rajon Rondo, who would be lethal with Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo and Rondo makes them an instant contender with all of the talented youngsters. In many ways it is the ideal scenario for Carmelo and Boston. Because the Celtics can sign him in the open market without giving up anything. And the franchise is always seeking the Championship edge. Which is what Anthony needs at this stage of his career.

      • simoneauchristopher5 - May 30, 2014 at 7:50 PM

        People can’t accept that Boston is a top destination, but once KG signed that extension in 07 & told everyone in the league how much he loved playing in Boston, everything changed. Now, if you’re Carmelo & you see Boston go out & add Love to team w/Rondo, why not consider it? Melo is an East Coast guy. If the C’s get Love, watch for the Melo rumors to heat up. Melo reminds me so much of Paul Pierce at this point of his career.

        Also, and this is the scout & coach in me talking- Love, Rondo & Carmelo is a great mix because their talents all work together. They would have to retain Bradley and add a defensive center though because Love isn’t exactly Bill Russell on defense.

      • bigbamboom1 - May 30, 2014 at 9:22 PM

        I totally agree with your comment. It would not surprise me if Boston isn’t actually at the top of Carmelo and his agent’s destination list. I also would not be surprised to see Phil Jackson and the Knicks make a play for Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and a draft pick to do a sign and trade deal. That move would allow Melo to easily fit under the Celtic’s cap at max dollars. But I don’t think Boston can afford both Carmelo and Love. So I’m unsure whether I’d pull the trigger on the Love deal if I could grab Carmelo Anthony. And team him in a formidable front court with Jared Sullinger at Power Forward and the real talented rookie Center/Forward, Kelly Olynk. That kid has real star potential playing alongside someone like Carmelo Anthony & Rajon Rondo. He has shooting range. Can score inside & out. and he’s a very aggressive defender/rebounder. Olynk reminds me of a young Tom Chambers and jack Sikma. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Celtics are not really the team in the driver’s seat in the Carmelo chase. Especially if Phil Jackson keeps insulting the guy.

    • zacksdad - May 30, 2014 at 6:52 PM

      There is a big difference in the sacrifice. It is not the money issue with Melo, but the cap space. They would love to pay him the full contract, but by doing that they now become limited on how much more they can spend on other players.

      I think Kobe made a BIG mistake by taking so much of the cap space. If he would have taken less, Gasol would also be more likely to sign for less, they could add more players, and then finally they would have a better chance to win.

    • bkbell3 - May 30, 2014 at 7:26 PM

      Not to mention the first time, unproven GM in jackson gets 12mil. per year to run the team which is 2-4 times what proven GM make. He ain’t given no one any breaks.

  8. rodge1 - May 30, 2014 at 5:36 PM


    Many players left their respective team to chase championships way before LeBron did.

  9. drs76109 - May 31, 2014 at 1:16 AM

    Too sick to coach but not sick enough for GM? Strange……

  10. campcouch - May 31, 2014 at 3:23 AM

    I’m pretty sure Jackson is President of Baskettball Operations…not the GM. Maybe he should let Steven Mills search for the coach. If not,trade positions with him.

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