Knicks coaching vacancy next step in keeping Carmelo Anthony

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 22, 2014 at 2:52 pm •  Published: April 22, 2014

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NEW YORK — The New York Knicks began what one NBA analyst called the "second step" in trying to re-sign leading scorer Carmelo Anthony by firing coach Mike Woodson after two full seasons.

Anthony, 29, has said he will become a free agent this offseason and wants to stay if the team appears ready to contend for a title. TNT/NBA TV analyst Greg Anthony said Monday's dismissal of Woodson and his staff allows new team president Phil Jackson to continue changing the franchise's culture and building a roster that meets the seven-time All-Star's needs.

"Everything that's done is with that in mind," Greg Anthony said in a telephone interview. "The first step was when the brass was able to bring in Phil Jackson, showing Carmelo that they are committed to building a championship-caliber team. The second step is to get the coach that is best suited to go along that path, and obviously someone who is closely aligned philosophically with what Phil wants to accomplish."

Woodson was dismissed after the team took a step back, missing the playoffs a year after its most successful season in 13 years. The Knicks finished with a 37-45 record and were eliminated from postseason contention with three games remaining.

"The coaches and players on this team had an extremely difficult 2013-14 season, and blame should not be put on one individual," Jackson said Monday in an emailed release. "But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond."

Steve Kerr, 48, who won NBA championships as a player under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls in 1996, 1997 and 1998, said Monday on his weekly SiriusXM Radio show that he expects to speak with Jackson about the position.

"We've been very close," Kerr said. "I do anticipate at least being part of the conversation and we'll see where it all goes."

Kerr has worked as a TV analyst since stepping down as general manager of the Phoenix Suns in 2010. Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors are among the former players who made successful jumps from television analysts to first-time coaches.

"I think Phil sees a lot of himself in Steve," said Greg Anthony, a former Knicks point guard. "He's a guy that was an important part of a lot of great teams, but wasn't the key guy. In a lot of ways that helps you in understanding why a lot of teams work well."