If there was any doubt left, New York Knicks president Phil Jackson squashed it in a Manhattan steakhouse Tuesday night. The Knicks plan on hiring Steve Kerr to take control of the team—at least that's what Jackson reportedly told Carmelo Anthony over dinner earlier this week.
According to The Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring, the two linked up to discuss the team's future, and Jackson worked to ease potential concerns Anthony could have over playing for a rookie head coach:
In sitting down with Anthony, who has made it abundantly clear that he wants to play for a winning team next season, Jackson wanted to allay any concerns Anthony might have about Kerr's inexperience as a coach. (Kerr, who played under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls, has never coached at any level.) Jackson tried to do that, the sources said, by telling Anthony that he'd be both visible and available on the sidelines while the team takes part in training camp.
"Phil wanted [Anthony] to know that Kerr and his thinking will simply be an extension of himself," one of the sources said. "He wanted Carmelo to know he'll still be able to coach him by extension."
The two never discussed the idea of someone other than Kerr coaching the team.
Update: Saturday, May 3 at 2:10 p.m. ET
Steve Kerr likely is making his swan song for TNT on Saturday night when he announces Game 7 of the Grizzlies-Thunder series in Oklahoma City. According to an NBA source, Kerr likely will make his final decision on accepting the Knicks head-coaching job soon after the weekend.
However, one thing that can derail Kerr’s getting hired by the Knicks is if the Warriors lose their first-round series to the Clippers on Saturday and coach Mark Jackson is let go. Kerr, whose family lives in San Diego, may listen if approached by the Warriors.
--End of update--
The story also mentions that Anthony wasn't set off by Jackson's public comments regarding his star needing to take a relative pay cut. Shortly after the season, Phil said that he hopes Anthony will stay "true to his word," referring to his previous vow to take less money to contend for a title.
Royce Young of CBS Sports notes that there are still tremendous hurdles for the Knicks to climb in negotiations:
There's a problem for the Knicks, though. Even if Melo signed for a dollar (which he can't), the Knicks still have about $70 million committed next season, assuming Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani don't opt out of their contracts, which they almost assuredly won't.
So him taking less could help in the future, but not this summer. And Anthony has made his point clear that winning is his priority at this present moment. The Knicks can offer him the most money, but I'm not sure they can offer him that.
The first rumblings of the Knicks' two highest celebrities meeting to talk business popped up shortly after they sat down, via an Instagram post by Josh Wolfe:
Jackson's meeting with Melo seemed to be a bit different than a traditional free-agent recruitment. Phil made it clear that he has a plan for the team moving forward, and he views Kerr as the right fit at head coach. Jackson wasn't asking Anthony's opinion on this as much as informing him of his plan.
It's also clear, though, that Jackson will do his best to convince Anthony on re-upping in New York. Phil reportedly explained that Anthony could wash away any concerns about a coach's inexperience, since Kerr would simply be "an extension of himself," as one of Herring's sources put it.
Based on the report, Kerr is likely to take charge as Mike Woodson's successor, whether it be after the postseason's first round or soon thereafter, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Though Jackson isn't asking Anthony's opinion on the matter, the soon-to-be free agent shouldn't be overly skeptical.
The fact that the Zen Master—who knows a thing or two about winning—thinks so highly of Kerr should be convincing enough.