Derek Fisher on Wednesday denied rumors that he’s been targeted as a potential replacement for New York coach Mike Woodson.
“I congratulated (Knicks president Phil Jackson) and we’ve spoken,” Fisher said. “But he hasn’t said anything to me about it, and I haven’t said anything to him about it. And so the reports that I have been reported to about, I’ve found them pretty funny myself because it’s not something that’s happened directly between the people that are being mentioned.”
Fisher has repeatedly said he will retire at the end of this season, his 18th in the NBA, and his ties to Jackson from their days with the Los Angeles Lakers makes him an intriguing possibility. A preseason poll of NBA general managers pegged Fisher fourth among active players who would make the best coach, behind Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul and Shane Battier. But Fisher said he isn’t currently focused on coaching. A primary factor in Fisher deciding to retire at the end of this season is his desire to spend more time with his family.
“That is not in my radar or in my scope or anything that I’ve thought about, even coaching in general,” Fisher said. “I think I’ve been pretty consistent with not really having that decided in terms of what’s next, absolutely. I’m so committed to being a player that it’s even hard to see myself doing some other things in particular, coaching or something that puts me on the other side of the sideline so quickly. I have a lot of respect for the profession. I think there are a lot of great coaches and great men out there, and great women, that do a phenomenal job. But for me it’s just, I picked that number on my jersey for a reason. And until that’s concluded, I haven’t spent a lot of time in terms of what my definite pursuit’s going to be after that.”
Fisher is chasing his sixth NBA championship. He won his first five with the Jackson-coached Lakers. Fisher said he remains “very” close to Jackson, but separated their friendship from business and said Jackson’s presence in New York doesn’t make a potential Knicks opening more appealing.
“I think his presence there is just gratifying because I know him so well,” Fisher said. “And so just to see him get that type of opportunity to possibly establish the type of culture as an executive that he established as a coach, that’s pretty exciting. In terms of where I might fit into it, that’s not the type of relationship we have. Even when he was deciding each year whether or not to come back and coach, we’d have conversations and I never would tell him what I wanted him to do. I always wanted us to just have a friendship that went beyond whether or not I wanted him to still coach or not. And so I think that relationship remains.”