The names have already begun to trickle out, the favorites for the Knicks’ now-vacant coaching job. The friends of Phil and followers of the triangle populating the list. But if Phil Jackson really wants to move the organization forward, he should pass by the devoted followers and instead reach out to the coach who was his most bitter rival during their coaching days.
Steve Kerr, the front-runner, played for Jackson and picked up three championship rings in Chicago. But a better choice would be Jeff Van Gundy.
Yes, Van Gundy, the one who used to tweak Jackson as “Chief Big Triangle,” when the Knicks and Bulls were battling through bruising series. Jackson, when asked what he thought about Van Gundy in those days once said, “I don’t even pay attention to him. He’s like a fly on the wall.”
Sounds like a marriage made in heaven, right? But they don’t have to be married. They just have to work together, nearly two decades past their squabbles.
What Jackson really needs is to put a coach in place who can win and win now. But before the first game is won or lost, the first task of whoever takes over is to be alluring enough to convince Carmelo Anthony that New York is a place worth being a part of.
Anthony has made no secret of the fact that winning is the priority in his free agency this summer and the Knicks now have a window to show him something before he can hear the pitch from other suitors.
While Kerr is a smart and savvy basketball man, a success as a player and an accomplished analyst, he has never spent a day as a coach. Is that learning curve something that will impress Anthony in the wake of a 37-45 season?
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