Mark Jackson came tantalizingly close to succeeding Isiah Thomas as Knicks coach in 2008, but the job instead went to Mike D’Antoni.

“If I didn’t hire Mike, Mark was the next guy on my list,” said Indiana president Donnie Walsh, who was Knicks president and general manager back then.

What kept Jackson, who was atop the list until D’Antoni emerged, from the job was an immediate Knicks’ future that appeared downright bleak.

“Mark was definitely in the running. No doubt about it. Mike didn’t come in the picture until late,” Walsh recalled. “When I met with Mark, he was really high on my list and I’m thinking, ‘I would have no problem bringing this guy except it’s going to be difficult for him because we’re not going to have the talent until the third year.’ ”

That was the deciding factor, Walsh said. He did not know how an inexperienced coach would handle what was sure to be a couple seasons of failure.