New York Knicks coaching search has new, fun candidates

Mar 19, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks new president Phil Jackson looks on from the stands during the first quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 19, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks new president Phil Jackson looks on from the stands during the first quarter of a game against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Phil Jackson may have been spurned by Steve Kerr in favor of Golden State, but the Warriors overpaying for an unproven commodity might be a blessing in disguise. Now, the New York Knicks could go after some more proven, worthwhile, and even cheaper alternatives.

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Strangely, though, it seems like Jackson is in favor of targeting every player or coach who has ever been under his regime, rather than keeping his options open.

This is likely, at least presumably, because Jackson wants to enforce the triangle in New York. It probably doesn’t hurt that he wouldn’t mind a puppet underneath him. Which, if is true, would skim the Knicks’ coaching target list in half.

Among the names rumored to be available for the job, there happens to be some solid candidates. A coach like Mark Jackson, with a proven track record, seems like a solid idea. Even a college coach like Fred Hoiberg, who utilizes an up-tempo, pro-oriented, style of offense, seems like an ideal scenario. Heck, even former Lakers player, Tyronn Lue, who has NBA assistant coaching experience and is viewed as a coach on the rise, wouldn’t be a horrible idea.

Then, well, then there are the rest of the names.

While we have no idea if they would wind up being wild successes or horrid mistakes, a slew of candidates with no experience have come up. Mostly because they are touted as being Phil Jackson guys and, I guess, because having Luke Walton on the bench just seems like a normal thing to Jackson. I mean,

nothing says NBA head coach like Lil Wheats.

In fairness to Walton, Bill Cartwright, Derek Fisher, and a slew of other guys, maybe they would work out. Maybe having a puppet under Phil Jackson is the best thing to do.

As much stock as we are putting in Jackson the President of Basketball Operations, he didn’t earn a single one of his 11 NBA Championship rings by building a team. He did so by using his triangle offense, with a slew of superstars, and did a great job of managing egos as well as schemes.

Having a puppet, who is essentially there to take all the blame and solely to incorporate Jackson’s scheme, could be used as Jackson’s greatest magic trick ever. A slight of hand, of sorts. To place blame on New York’s next few season’s worth of woes, while they build cap-space and lottery picks (are there any left?), until Jackson comes back with a butt-cushion as the savior of New York Knicks basketball.

If Jackson is actually serious in terms of building a winner right away, from putting the right coach in place from the jump, Hoiberg is the right man for the job.

The head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones, Hoiberg implements an up-tempo, three-point heavy, pro style of offense. One that Jackson would have to embrace, as it does not resemble the triangle, but could help New York very early on. For what it is worth, Hoiberg — who has NBA experience as a player and front-office person — always gets the most out of his players.

Not only has Hoi-Ball — which is defined as part awesome entertainment, part orgasmic offense — turned Royce White into a lottery pick, and made a 25-year-old DeAndre Kane a ready-made NBA roleplayer, but it essentially turns every player, even the ho-hum variety, into legitimate threats. Plus, seriously, he got Royce White to travel (in the biz, that’s called bonus points).

Still, the Knicks and Jackson would have to do a lot to get Hoiberg to come to New York. Hoiberg is not nicknamed the Mayor of Ames because he is thought to be anything other than awesome there. Currently holding a Paul Bunyan like status in Ames, Hoiberg would have to be lured with a slew of large, guaranteed years from Jackson. Oh, and the much less likely promise of Jackson keeping his nose out of Hoiberg’s system.

Even Mark Jackson, who is a much better proven fit than any of the Jackson-guys, wouldn’t work. Not because he is a bad coach, but for the same reason Golden State let him go. Jackson is so head strong that a guy like Phil Jackson might not be able to endure half a season with the former Knicks point guard running the show.

That’s why guys like Kurt Rambis are also rumored. Rambis, who might even come in as an assistant no matter who the head coach is, is the walking, talking, and breathing embodiment of a Phil Jackson guy. As in, Rambis prefers if Jackson does the thinking for him. Really, letting Jackson do all the real work, strategizing and (to some extent) coaching, while Rambis would just be there to oversee things.

If Jackson is absolutely dead set on getting one of his former players or coaches to work underneath him, Lue seems like the only logical fit.

Lue, who is best remembered as being the player stepped on by Allen Iverson, is highly thought of in NBA circles. While he might not be their fanbase’s first choice, New York could benefit from having a guy who knows Jackson’s precious triangle offense and might be willing to placate to Jackson’s ego a bit.

Which is really strange. As Jackson’s great coaching trait might have been his ability to juggle egos, whoever ends up coaching the Knicks next, will have to spend plenty of time balancing his.

Regardless, I can’t wait to see which names come up next. If the people already rumored are any indication, expect everyone or anyone with any Jackson ties to be suggested. Seriously, think of it. We are a mere day or two away from having Dennis Rodman, Tony Kukoc and Rusty LaRue as new Knicks coaches.