(Reuters) – Phil Jackson was left scrambling for a Plan B yesterday after the Hall of Fame coach suffered his first loss as president of the New York Knicks when his hand-picked candidate to coach the team took another job.
Steve Kerr, a Jackson disciple and friend who was widely expected to make Madison Square Garden his new home court, spurned the Knicks and signed instead to coach the Golden State Warriors on a massive five-year $25 million contract.
When Jackson fired head coach Mike Woodson and his staff last month after a disappointing Knicks season left them out of the playoffs, he vowed the time had come for change throughout the franchise.Now the time has come for Jackson to identify another chief coaching target to help him change the culture of losing that has consumed the Knicks, who last won an NBA title in 1973 with Jackson on the court as a defensive-minded forward.
Fans of the orange and blue might dream of having Jackson call the shots from courtside as he did in claiming a record 11 NBA titles as coach of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
But the 68-year-old Jackson has repeatedly insisted his days of coaching are over due to his age and health concerns and that he was embracing his first crack at building an NBA title team as front office boss.
A long list of names have been bandied about in the media since the news broke late on Wednesday that Kerr chose to steer a more talented team that is based closer to his California home and family over his allegiance to Jackson.
Former coaches Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, whose firing by Golden State opened the door for Kerr to join the Warriors, have both been mentioned and both have ties to the Knicks.