GM Billy King Intrigued By 'Zen Master,' But Won't Confirm Contact

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nets general manager Billy King has reportedly followed through on his plans to reach out to Phil Jackson to measure the 67-year-old’s interest in Brooklyn’s coaching vacancy.

The Nets previously eyed the coaching legend in December after firing Avery Johnson. On Sunday, King said he’d contact Jackson when announcing the team would not retain interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.

On WFAN radio Tuesday, King wouldn’t confirm a New York Daily News report that said the Nets have contacted Jackson.

“I’m not going to say if we have or not,” King told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. “As I said, we would reach out and see — basically, I want to talk to Phil, see what he’s going to do, what he wants to do, and talk some basketball.”

The retired Jackson, who may be more interested in a front-office position in the NBA, “is so far the only candidate officially contacted in the Nets’ search,” the Daily News reported.

“There will be some other guys that we’ll be doing research on and gathering background on,” said King. “The process has started, I will tell you that.”

Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw and former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy could enter the mix, though both have been tight-lipped about the possibility. That wasn’t the case for Jerry Sloan, who told Comcast Sports Net Northwest that he “would definitely listen” if the Nets called.

Sloan and Nets point guard Deron Williams had a touch-and-go relationship in Utah, though both have said they’d be open to a reunion.

Brooklyn making its first phone call to Jackson was “a clear indication the 11-time champion is the top priority,” according to the Daily News. Jackson was linked to the Knicks job last summer, but owner James Dolan never picked up the phone.

The Daily News also mentioned Mike Dunleavy and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers as potential candidates.

“We’re not pursuing guys that are under contract at this point in time,” King responded when asked about Rivers.

The Nets were eliminated from the playoffs in a Game 7 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

“They want to move in a different direction,” Carlesimo told WFAN radio on Monday. “They want somebody who, Billy said, philosophically is more in line with the way he viewed the roster and the way they wanted it run. That’s their prerogative. It’s disappointing, because I thought we did a good job. But when you own a team or you’re the GM, you’ve got to get the guy that you believe is the right guy.”

King was proud of his team for winning 49 games en route to the No. 4 seed in the East. But Brooklyn just couldn’t get the job done when it counted most.

“Parts (of the season) were good, parts were bad and the ending was terrible,” King said.

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