By John Schmeelk
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As it turns out, it appears the Knicks was Steve Kerr’s preferred destination all along. All this waiting and speculation had much more to do with money than it did with Kerr really wanting to explore other opportunities.
Of course, there is no way to know if that is true or not, despite what I or the Knicks might suspect. But the fact that Kerr hasn’t actually interviewed with other teams tells me open jobs like the ones in Golden State were always about one thing: leverage.
As any good negotiator knows, a price will always go up when there is real competition for whatever the commodity is. With the Warriors in need of the coach, in combination with Kerr’s leaked preference (I think we know by whom) for the West Coast and the presence of friends in the front office, Golden State seemed a realistic competition for the Knicks. Their potential interest gave Kerr’s agent, Mike Tannenbaum — yes, that Mike Tannenbaum — a realistic way to demand the type of money he wanted from the Knicks.
Five years and $30 million is the number that was reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post, and it has been confirmed by other industry sources since. A deal like that would be obscene for a first-time head coach. Jason Kidd, for example, signed a contract with three years guaranteed for $7.5 million. The team hold an option for a fourth year at $3 million. That is a reasonable contract number for a first-time head coach. By all rights, Kerr should be getting a deal somewhere in that range. He wants double the yearly salary.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, a ludicrous contract like that is one they might have to agree to with the threat of the Warriors looming. The Knicks have a less than ideal owner, a roster in flux and questions as to whether their star wants to stay in New York. The only real thing they have to offer to attract Kerr is Phil Jackson. Kerr also knows he has Jackson urging James Dolan to give him all the money necessary to bring in his guy.
How would it look if Dolan chose this as the time to not spend money, resulting in his high-priced new general manager not bringing in his own coach? It would never happen. That’s why, in the end, Kerr will end up getting closer to Mike D’Antoni money than Jason Kidd money.
Of course, none of this should really matter to Knicks fans. This is the business part of the sport. There is no salary cap for coaches.
Whatever the Knicks give Kerr will not affect how they do business elsewhere. In fact, there’s a sound argument that the best way for the Knicks to use their superior resources is to overpay for coaches. There’s no inherent penalty for that type of spending. In the end, the Knicks will pay up and they’ll get their man.
Kerr will coach the Knicks next year for more than he should have been paid, and no one will care as long as he wins games.
– I’m surprised the Trail Blazers are going to go so quietly into the night. I expected that series to go seven games, but it appears that Portland was not ready for a Spurs team that plays far better defense than Houston did and moves the ball a whole more on offense. I don’t see anyone knocking off the Spurs on the way to the NBA Finals. I think they win the whole thing.
– Something just isn’t right with the Thunder. Considering the starts from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, you cannot blow that type of lead in the fourth quarter. I think Scott Brooks has taken undue heat over the last couple of years, but there might be something to him not maximizing his talent and not putting his stars in the best position to succeed. I’ll stick with my upset and say Clippers in seven.
– A lot of people thought I was nuts picking the Pacers to beat Washington in five, but it was a better matchup for them to get Roy Hibbert on the floor and be successful. Washington looked like a beaten team after that game. It’s also foolish to criticize John Wall for passing up that three. He got a great look for a better shooter. That’s the right basketball play.
– Sorry, Nets fans. The Heat seem ready to clamp down and get the series back to Miami at 3-1. If the Nets play out of their minds (I’m looking at you, Deron Williams) they can beat the Heat when they play less than their best. But I don’t see them winning Game 4.
Follow John on Twitter @Schmeelk for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and the world of sports.
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