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Knicks rumors bonanza: Steve Kerr, the coaching search, the firings to come


Maddie Meyer

Hello bigbutts! Welcome, all you bigbutted people! Today is Wednesday and the Knicks still don't have any coaches, so you know there are rumors. Let's do what we can to make sense of the stuff on the internet:

1. There maybe a real coaching search. The way people reported about Steve Kerr, it sounded like there was some chance Phil Jackson would hire Kerr as coach outright without actively considering other options. Howard Beck suggested otherwise to begin the week. The names he suggests are the usual reasonable guesses...

The obvious names keep surfacing-Brian Shaw, Kurt Rambis, Derek Fisher, Scottie Pippen, Jim Cleamons-because of their ties to Jackson. It's all educated guesswork.

While we're educatedly guessing, here are two more names to consider: Fred Hoiberg and Kevin Ollie, who have both made quick impressions in the college ranks.

...but it's more about the process:

"He's going to talk to a lot of people," a league source said of Jackson.

Of course, the other side of that is that Kerr may have some obvious reservations about coaching a team that's chewed up several consecutive coaches in recent years. Beck hears Kerr is "eying several potential openings around the league, according to sources, and he would prefer to stay on (or near) the West Coast." Frank Isola hears:

Kerr is already asking close associates a question that is revealing on many levels.

"Why do some people think I'd be crazy to do this?" Kerr said, according to a source.


What concerns Kerr, according to a source, is whether he can be successful at Madison Square Garden, a place that has destroyed careers and ruined reputations under Garden chairman James Dolan.

...which is just obvious. Any reasonable human being would do some research, consider the Knicks' history of turmoil, and question whether they could be the one to change the pattern. We can assume Kerr is doing due diligence without that being reported.

Two more things regarding the coaching search: 1. In a fun little confluence of New York sports timelines, Kerr's agent happens to be former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum. 2. Ron Harper saw every other former Jackson coworker's name come up in rumors, and he wants an interview, too. Again: Pretty much anyone who's ever worked with Jackson is fair game for a rumor now. I don't know why no one's calling up Slava Medvedenko for quotes.

2. The firing process may not be straightforward. Jackson has already cleared out the coaching staff, which included previously untouchable longtime assistant Herb Williams. Of course, Marc Berman then immediately shared word that the Knicks may want to hire Williams back. The initial report said a new coach "will be encouraged by the organization" to rehire Herb. Reherb. Now it says "the new Knicks coach will pick his staff of assistants, but will be alerted by brass to Williams' respect within the organization." Either way, kinda creepy, and if it's not just Berman speculating, then it's kinda troubling, since it certainly isn't Phil Jackson who wants Williams back. Jackson just fired him.

And then there's the front office, where moves are yet to be made. Here's Beck again:

CAA represents two key members of the front office, Allan Houston and Mark Warkentien, and has close ties to general manager Steve Mills. All three are likely to be cut loose or pushed into new roles.

And then there's Isola:

Just one month into his role as Knicks president, Jackson has already clashed with Dolan, the chairman of Madison Square Garden, over personnel decisions, the Daily News has learned. According to a team source, Jackson is looking to remove several staff members, which is commonplace when a new administration takes over, but Dolan opposes removing certain employees.

According to the source, Dolan's reaction to Jackson's request was to tell the 11-time NBA championship coach to simply focus his attention on building a winning team. To say that "minor friction," as one Garden source called it, can be classified as Jackson's honeymoon with Dolan being over may be stretching it a bit.

You choose how much you trust Isola's sources, and pretty much everything after that is speculation and opinion. "Clashed" seems like a heavy term for what the source called "minor friction," too, but whatever. Whether or not there is contention, I don't like the idea that Dolan is offering even a little input. I don't want to be reading his name at all right now. You said "full autonomy," Mr. James. YOU SAID IT. NO TAKE-BACKS. You don't get to have an opinion about basketball moves after you said this:

Oh, you do because you're the owner and don't actually have to keep your word because you don't have a boss? Oh. Please please please please shush, though, if only so Isola will leave us alone.

Phil Jackson's gonna talk today. If he says anything that matters, I'll share it.