In the embarrassing aftermath of the Steve Kerr fiasco, Phil Jackson was described by one league executive on Friday as “looking like a beaten man already.” Jackson has spent the past two days in Chicago at the NBA draft combine trying to regroup after Kerr, his one and only choice to coach the Knicks, decided to take the same position with the Golden State Warriors. Kerr wanted to stay closer to his San Diego home but was also concerned about working for Garden chairman James Dolan, who undermined the potential hiring by originally offering Kerr a three-year deal. Kerr eventually received a five-year, $25 million deal from Golden State. Although it had been known for months that Kerr was Jackson's primary target, Knicks ownership did not appear to support the hiring. This comes one month after the Daily News reported that Jackson and Dolan had already clashed over staff moves. ESPN later reported that Jackson wanted to revamp the medical staff but was rebuffed by Dolan, who promised Jackson full autonomy when the Knicks signed him to a five-year, $60 million contact in March to become the team’s president of basketball operations. Meanwhile, Jackson intended to make Kerr his first major hire and the deal blew up in his face. “When I saw Phil today he looked like a guy who had lost $60 million,” said one league executive who was in Chicago. “Last summer he looked refreshed when I saw him. Now he really looks beaten down. He didn’t look good.” Coincidentally, TNT’s Marv Albert, the former longtime voice of the Knicks, told the Daily News on Thursday that he had warned Kerr, his broadcast partner, that things never end well at the Garden. In Jackson’s case, things haven’t started well. Jackson has not said where he will turn next but Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher, who played for Jackson with the Lakers, has emerged as a top candidate. Fisher may not be available until after the NBA Finals. Former head coach Kurt Rambis, a longtime Jackson ally, has been mentioned as a candidate as well as Luke Walton and Tyronn Lue, who both played under Jackson. Mark Jackson is a sentimental choice of Knicks fans and perhaps some members of the front office, too. Knicks general manager Steve Mills and assistant GM Allan Houston both made a big show of greeting the then-Warriors coach on the court moments before Golden State played the Knicks at the Garden this season. During a timeout, the Knicks played a video tribute to their former point guard, which is something they had never done for him previously even though he had returned to MSG as both a broadcaster and head coach since he retired as a player.
Phil Jackson is already ‘beaten down’
New York Daily News | May 17