Phil Jackson may have been rejected by former his former player Steve Kerr when he agreed to sign a contract with the Golden State Warriors to be their coach, but he finally got a coach for the New York Knicks when Derek Fisher allegedly agreed to become NY’s latest coach on Monday.
He signed for five years and 25 million to be the main man for the Knicks, getting a raise from this past season when he earned 3.4 million playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Just last month, Fisher was playing basketball for the Thunder when they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. Now, he’s following in the shadow of Jason Kidd as a first-time head coach with absolutely no coaching experience whatsoever.
But, he was somebody Jackson was interested in. Very interested in.
“The last two summers, Derek and I have talked about the next step in his career,” Jackson said during a press conference last week. “So I kind of know what he wants do, and his feelings. He’s got family in LA. He’s got little kids still in LA. I have no idea if he wants to move his family and come here. Those are things that he would have to express. There are so many unknowns.”
It sounds like Jackson may have been playing coy when he made those remarks since Fisher is now the new leader of the Knicks coaching staff. The biggest reason Fisher is viewed as a good head coach candidate is because he was president of the National Players Association and has been looked upon as a leader for most of his career. Fisher was never a prototypical point guard during his playing days but he was seen as a good shooter and a positive influence in the locker room.
Fisher will have a strong guiding hand from Jackson as a coach and how to deal with the particulars of coaching, but a strong assistant coach or two will also help Fisher adjust to life on the sidelines.
Fisher, 39, enjoyed the most success of his long career with Jackson when they were with the Los Angeles Lakers for nine seasons, winning five NBA titles. Jackson was the head coach when Fisher was selected 24th overall in the first round of the 1996 NBA draft. The Lakers also traded for a high school player by the name of Kobe Bryant (drafted 13th overall) when they dealt Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to Bryant. And that same summer they signed a dominant center in Shaquille O’Neal and the trio made history as they won three straight titles from 2000-2002.
The Lakers were also interested in Fisher, but they seem more interested in coaches with experience after the Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni coaching disasters of recent memory. Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins seem to be the leading candidates for the head coaching vacancy in LA.
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