New York Knicks Coaching Roundup, Part 3: Brian Shaw And Friends

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If you looked up “Phil Jackson” in the Urban Dictionary (do not look up Phil Jackson in the Urban Dictionary) I imagine the definition would essentially read “winning.” Phil Jackson has won a lot of championships, and so he’s become synonymous with winning. Even though it’s a bit of a tautology, It’s a reputation he, himself, has earned, but one his protégés have not.

Phil’s coaching tree is more like a Whomping Willow which includes: Kurt Rambis, Jim Cleamons, Bill Cartwright, Frank Hamblen and…Brian Shaw. The jury is still out on Shaw’s coaching acumen, but turning a 50-plus-win team into a 36-win team isn’t a great first impression. But that’s what makes the Brian Shaw to New York situation so interesting. Why are the Nuggets dead-set on holding onto a Phil Jackson’s young squires when the rest of the branches the tree has a combined winning percentage of 46 percent?

Whenever a head coach or a manager is traded–which is a very rare occurrence–they’ve typically already established themselves as elite coaches or managers either by winning a championship(s) or just winning a lot of games. That is not the case here. You trade draft picks and cash for elite head coaches like Doc Rivers or Stan Van Gundy or Tom Thibodeau. But you can’t do that for somebody like Shaw, and it looks like the Knicks, outside of Phil, understand that.

Still, being able to trade coaches is weird. It’s weird because you can’t trade players for coaches, but you can trade cash and draft picks (which turn into players) for them. It’s also usually an awkward situation that is littered with organizational drama (see: Gruden, Jon and Rivers, Doc.) It’s typically not a good look for you organization if your head coach is trying to get traded to another team, which is another reason it’s such a rare occurrence.

The Knicks want Shaw, but they don’t have the assets to get him. For the Clippers to get Doc they had give up a 2015 first-round pick that was unprotected. The Orlando Magic had to give up multiple draft picks and cash to the Miami Heat for Van Gundy, and he had already been replaced in Miami. Trading for a guy with only one year of head coaching experience and sub-.500 record shouldn’t require a team to give up multiple draft picks and cash. Sure, it’s a small sample, but Shaw is not the hot commodity he once was when he was an assistant in Indiana. The Knicks would be foolish to give up anything but cash to bring him aboard (although that’s also their only option).

The Knicks aren’t the only team trying to trade for another team’s head coach, but they’re not swinging for the fences (more like just trying to get on base) like the Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves are. The Grizzlies reportedly want to make a major play for Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, while the Timberwolves are in deep discussions to trade for current Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger. Yes, it’s as confusing as it sounds.

As confusing and as crazy as those situations are, it’s still easy to see why both teams are making the choices they are. Stealing Thibodeau away from Chicago would be a major coup for Memphis. Flip Saunders needs to make a major splash to try and make a last-ditch effort to convince Kevin Love to stay — Joerger qualifies as a major splash. Giving up a couple of draft picks and cash for an elite coach(s) when your roster looks like Memphis’ or Minnesota’s that’s OK. When your roster looks like the Knicks’, it’s not OK. Shaw isn’t the answer in New York, but Thibodeau and Joerger could be in Memphis and Minnesota.

Phil appears to be dead-set on hiring a head coach that he can mentor and mold. Perhaps that potential synergy between GM and head coach is what finally turns Phil’s coaching tree around. Maybe Shaw can still be an elite head coach in this league if he has Phil around to guide him once again. It was clear that the current Nuggets roster doesn’t mesh with Shaw’s vision, but how long are the Nuggets and/or Shaw willing to wait turn that vision into reality? If Shaw doesn’t turn it around next season, would it really be that shocking if the Nuggets decided to fire him? I tend to think no, especially when you look at the Golden State situation, because head coaches in this league typically have a very small window of time to make significant progress.

Brian Shaw is probably not going to be the next head coach of the New York Knicks, and that’s OK. The Nuggets have all the leverage, and the Knicks don’t have the assets to make it happen. That’s also OK. This is perhaps the one instance that the Knicks’ lack of draft picks is a good thing because it’d be a mistake to give up multiple draft picks for a head coach with his track record.

Shaw and Phil could be great together in New York, but so could Fisher and Phil — without the cost. However, wrestling Fisher away from the Oklahoma City Thunder could also be a challenge for Phil. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Fisher could return to the Thunder next season as a player/assistant in a role similar to Juwan Howard’s role in Miami. It’s a win-win situation for Fisher. He either stays in Oklahoma City to get some coaching experience with a franchise that adores him, or goes to New York where Phil would also love to have him. Fisher can’t lose, but the Knicks can.

Then there is Tyronn Lue, an assistant under Doc Rivers in Los Angeles, who you would think would jump at the opportunity for the Knicks’ head coaching position, if he’s offered the gig. Lue is just 37-years-old and has played and coached under Phil Jackson, Rivers, Jeff Van Gundy and other great current and former head coaches in this league. Of course, Lue, like all the other Knicks’ head-coaching candidates, is an unknown, simply because he hasn’t been a head coach in this league. If Fisher elects to return to Oklahoma City, you would expect Phil to turn Lue. It may not be a sexy hire, but you could argue Lue is the most qualified candidate of the bunch.

I have no idea which route the Knicks are ultimately going to take, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Knicks’ next head coach will be one of Phil’s former point guards.

New York Knicks Coaching Roundup, Part 2

We’re closing in on a month since Steve Kerr to the Knicks watch first began, but the Knicks and Kerr have been unable to reach an agreement as of this moment.

As many expected, Kerr didn’t immediately take the Knicks job once it became available. Kerr is the hottest head coach candidate on the market, so he’s taking his time. The Golden State Warriors job is reportedly his if he wants it, and the Utah Jazz have also been rumored to be interested in him. The Warriors job is the best head coaching job available, but it doesn’t appear as though Kerr is heading to the Bay Area.

Rather than choosing a coaching job close to home, like Golden State or Utah, it appears working with Phil in New York is too compelling of an opportunity to pass up.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported on May 9 that the Knicks are OK with Kerr completing his contractual obligations with TNT, but a deal could be finalized by May 12.

Speaking of contracts, Berman reports that money is the only obstacle remaining before Kerr signs on to become the next Knicks’ head coach.

“Kerr’s agent is Mike Tannenbaum, the former Jets general manager. It is believed Tannenbaum is seeking a five-year deal for Kerr, the same length as Jackson’s.

It is also believed Kerr is seeking a similar financial deal as Mike D’Antoni had when he inked a four-year, $24 million pact with the Knicks in 2008. Jackson and owner James Dolan might have to overpay to get Kerr to move across the country.”

So it looks like the original plan of bringing in Kerr to do Phil’s bidding is what’s ultimately going to happen.

Get excited, maybe?

Knicks Finalizing a Deal to Hire Steve Kerr

According to a new report today from ESPN’s NBA insider Marc Stein the New York Knicks are finalizing a deal to hire former Phoenix Suns General Manager and television analyst Steve Kerr to be their next head coach. The deal won’t reportedly be finalized until after the first round of the playoffs, but hey, progress!

Earlier in the month, I wrote about how the Knicks have handled their head coaching situation in what can only be described as in a head-scratching way. Phil has clearly wanted Kerr all along, and he reportedly got his man before others could. That’s the most important takeaway out of this, I think, because the Knicks weren’t going to be the only ones courting Kerr this summer.

It’s been reported by a number of insiders and analysts that Kerr was going to be a hot commodity this offseason for potential head coaching vacancies. Golden State, Houston and Oklahoma City were all potentially in play for Kerr if things went sour for any of these clubs in the first round. As of right now, the three teams are all in grave danger of getting ousted in the first round. All of these potential destinations are better jobs than the Knicks, but perhaps Phil sprinkled some zen herbs into Kerr’s latte over dinner in Brooklyn this past weekend to convince him to take the Knicks job before those other teams started pounding at his door.

We don’t know what kind of head coach Kerr is going to be, but we do know Phil has potentially snagged the hottest potential head coaching commodity before anybody else could. Now comes the hardest part — fixing the Knicks’ roster.

Let’s hope Phil is saving his best trick the best for last.

 

New York Knicks Coaching Today Roundup

You’ve probably heard the phrase “time is of the essence” at some point or another in your lifetime. Well, that’s really applicable to the current situation surrounding the New York Knicks head coaching job search confusion. The Knicks currently have a head coach. That man, Mike Woodson, apparently doesn’t even want to have a face-to-face with new team president Phil Jackson until he gets “clarity” on his job status. Although, one might expect he’d get clarity by having a sit-down with the guy who is ultimately going to make the final call. Does your head hurt yet? No? Well let’s continue!

According to a new New York Post report Steve Kerr “absolutely expects” to be offered the New York Knicks head coaching job. Again the Knicks still have a head coach. It’s been in the news for weeks that the Knicks would probably pursue Kerr based on his history with Phil and his reported desire to become an NBA head coach sooner rather than later.

The problem? The Knicks still haven’t made a decision on Woodson’s future with the team. Well, that’s reportedly going to be made early next week, not over the weekend according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.

It appears Woodson will remain in limbo at least for a couple of more days at the very least. So today’s report on Kerr expecting an offer from a team that currently has a head coach makes things a bit awkward. Sure, it’s entertaining to poke fun at Woodson, but with the way this situation is unfolding for him it’s hard not to feel bad for the guy. Not because I’d like to see him stick around another season, I don’t. But it does appear the wheels are already in motion to bring in Kerr as the next head coach behind the scenes before relieving Woodson of his duties, which may not be the most ethical business practice.

Kerr is probably going to be a highly sought after guy this summer; even with zero head coaching experience in the NBA. The Golden State Warriors have also been linked to Kerr, so perhaps the Knicks brass knows they have to act fast in hiring Kerr before a potentially better job like the Warriors opens up. It’s kind of eerie how similar the two situations are with Mark Jackson and Mike Woodson. There seems to be a disconnect with management and the head coach for both teams, which typically leads to the head coach getting the short end of the stick.

It’s probably naive to believe these kinds of backdoor negotiations don’t go on all the time, but that doesn’t make the situations any less awkward. Woodson refusing to meet with Phil and wanting clarity on his job-status while Kerr is openly saying he expects the Knicks to offer him the job just has an unseemly vibe even if, again, it’s probably the norm, even for less dysfunctional teams than the ‘Bockers.

In the end, what we can infer from all of these reports is Woodson is not returning to coach the Knicks next season.

It’s the end of an era. Let’s remember Woody at his best; looking confused and/or stone-faced.