With Mike Woodson and his staff no longer in place to represent the Knicks, for better or for worse, Phil Jackson’s search for a new head coach has officially begun.
There’s no doubt such a hiring will not only spark the potentially promising things to come for the Knicks and Jackson’s tenure in his first few months. What’s more, the identity of such an incoming mentor will undeniably impact whether or not resident star Carmelo Anthony chooses to return.
With that in mind, does New York need to make a splash with whomever Jackson and co. decide to hire?
As it stands, perhaps the Hall of Famer doesn’t believe so. Former Bulls champion Steve Kerr remains a favorite for the position, and while he’s a notable name, a proven track record is not exactly something he boasts. As a rookie head coach, the former sharpshooter would look to continue the trend started by the likes of Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson, and Vinny Del Negro over the years for successful former NBA players who try their hand at being a head coach without any prior experience on a bench in The Association.
There’s no denying that given his success as a player, things could go on to work out for Kerr. The question becomes whether or not Anthony wants to stick around in the Big Apple and find out.
Aside from Kerr, the likes of Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis, Bill Cartwright, and Jim Cleamons have all been mentioned as possibilities. Still, the latter three are all former Jackson disciples in some way, shape, or form, and could all arguably make worthwhile assistants on Kerr’s potential staff. Shaw, on the other hand, is coming off an underwhelming first season as the man with the plan for the Denver Nuggets.
Two additional candidates, Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau, appear to represent two of the “sexier” options, so to speak. Both coaches have Big Apple roots, having represented the Knicks in the past. Each one is a proven winner who knows how to motivate some of the game’s bigger stars.
If it’s a splash Jackson and the Knicks are going to have to make in order to retain Anthony, perhaps hiring one of the latter two coaches will be necessary. Though neither one happens to be in Jackson’s corner so to speak, they both are more likely to have the respect of Anthony.
At this point, any of Anthony’s preferred candidates should become top targets of Jackson’s if the team wants to maintain any hope of ultimately hanging on to the superstar.
To keep the flashy star, perhaps it’s time to hire just as flashy of a coach.