After Friday's game in Phoenix, the New York Knicks will have only nine games left in the regular season. That means embattled head coach Mike Woodson has nine more games on the New York bench, barring some miraculous improvement in play (and an absolute collapse by the eighth-place Atlanta Hawks).
Even if the Knicks do manage to sneak into the playoffs, the recent hiring of Phil Jackson as New York's president of basketball operations likely spells the end of Woodson's tenure. A new regime is naturally inclined to bring in a coach more in tune with its philosophies, and Woodson has done little this season to instill confidence in his new boss.
So who will Jackson hire to man the Knicks bench in 2014-15? According to USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt, the legendary coach is considering two of his former players, Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher:
If indeed TNT analyst and former NBA guard Steve Kerr, who played for three of Jackson's championship Bulls teams, wants to coach, he is the front-runner, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
But one other name to consider, if Kerr doesn't end up as coach: Derek Fisher, who could end up with the Knicks either as a coach or front-office executive.
Fisher is still playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he will likely retire at the end of the season. It is important to note that Fisher, the former head of the players union, is apparently up for a front-office job as well.
That does not seem to be the case with Kerr, who played under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls from 1993 to 1998, winning three NBA championships. Kerr won two more titles with the San Antonio Spurs under the tutelage of another coaching legend, Gregg Popovich.
After retirement, he served as a front-office executive for the Phoenix Suns from 2007 until 2010, leaving the organization shortly after it lost the 2010 Western Conference Finals.
Though Kerr—who currently works as a broadcaster for Turner Sports—has never coached, he expressed interest during an interview on The Dan Patrick Show:
In general terms, what’s intriguing, for me, I’ve been broadcasting for eight years. I love visiting with the coaches beforehand, hearing what they are trying to do that night, the strategy, how they are trying to attack the other team. It’s fascinating to me. That’s the intriguing part of it for me. If I ever end up going down that path, it’s because of what I’ve been able to experience as a broadcaster and a player.
If the Knicks do indeed hire someone like Kerr or Fisher, it will be a radical departure for an organization that has long relied on retread coaches like Woodson, Mike D'Antoni and Larry Brown. If Phil Jackson is able to hire a first-time coach, it will demonstrate that he has truly made his mark on the franchise.