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Schmeelk: Knicks President Phil Jackson Needs To Get His Man

Steve Kerr (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Steve Kerr (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

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By John Schmeelk
» More Columns

The Knicks’ pursuit of Steve Kerr won’t end.

Every day there has been a story in the paper saying that after broadcasting one more game for TNT, Kerr would sign on as head coach of the Knicks. But as the calendar flipped from one day to the next, it started to feel like something else. It seemed like Kerr was stalling for something. That something happened on Tuesday when the Warriors decided not to bring back Mark Jackson.

There had been rumblings from the start of Jackson’s courtship of Kerr that he might prefer to stay on the West Coast near his family. Likewise, reports circulated that Kerr was also wary (and rightfully so) of Knicks ownership, and how their past coaches have been treated by the Garden byzantine hierarchy. Enter the Warriors, who reside on the West Coast near his family. Kerr also has a good relationship with Warriors Owner Joe Lacob and President Rick Welts.

Advantage Golden State.

Golden State also has a superstar in Stephen Curry who is under team control. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast of Klay Thompson, David Lee, Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala. The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony entering free agency, and a team that will be undergoing something between a rebuild and a retool over the next two years. The Knicks’ roster in two seasons will look nothing like it does today. The Knicks are an unknown. The Warriors are a perennial playoff team.

Advantage Warriors.

In other words, the Warriors are a much better situation for Kerr, spare one thing: Jackson. Knicks fans will now get the first taste of Jackson’s recruiting skills. This is the first deal he has to close.

Kerr is one of his guys. Jackson is one of Kerr’s mentors. If Jackson can’t convince one of his own disciples to come work for him with the Knicks, it is a bad sign that he will have similar issues trying to bring players here over the next couple of seasons.

Considering Kerr’s lack of coaching experience, losing him would certainly not be an unmitigated disaster, but it would be a bad start to Jackson’s era as team president. It would send a message that he isn’t the attraction that James Dolan thought he would be in the effort to bring other talented people to the organization.

If Jackson thinks Kerr is the best man to lead the Knicks from the bench, he is the person that needs to be there. Jackson needs a true extension of his philosophy as coach, and Kerr is the man to provide it.

Jackson needs to get his man. Whatever his Plan B is doesn’t matter. The Plan A needs to work. That’s why Jackson is getting $10 million a season to run the Knicks. This is his first test, and one of his most important decisions. It’s not one he should fail.

*     *     *

For all those Knicks fans who want Mark Jackson, please stop. For one, he is not of Phil Jackson’s philosophy. Secondly, do you really think the man who alienated everyone in the Warriors’ front office (basketball ops and staff alike) would survive long in Dolan’s Garden? I think not.

True, Jackson had the support of his team and got it to play hard defensively, but his X’s and O’s left much to be desired. Frankly, he also took the annoying chip on his shoulder and cocky attitude that he had as a player into the coach’s box. Remember those shimmies when he played for the Pacers? It was annoying, right?

Imagine dealing with that type of attitude from someone in a position of power? It doesn’t sound like someone who would get along with a headstrong general manager or strive in a political environment like Madison Square Garden.

It is not a fit. Let it go.

Follow John on Twitter @Schmeelk for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and the world of sports.  

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