With 16 teams left with championship aspirations, gearing up to start the second season on Saturday, Friday’s talk is all about the Knicks, who are expected to make a decision on the future of head coach Mike Woodson in the next few days.
Despite an embarrassing performance this season, which culminated into a 37-45 record, Woodson remains 30 games over .500 as the head coach of the Knicks. That fact points to something else being the problem. But with so much dysfunction coming from all areas of the organization this season, a new leader in place and the most crucial offseason the franchise has had in decades, something has to change.
That is likely to be Woodson.
Phil Jackson was brought in mid-season and paid an astounding $60 million to run the team. The entire front office was restructured (again, midseason) to make this happen. He demanded full authority over basketball decisions, and he got it.
There’s no way he’s not hand picking his coach, and all signs point to that man being his former player, Steve Kerr, and not Mike Woodson. Here’s more from the New York Post:
According to a source close to the situation, Kerr “absolutely expects” to be offered the job. “And if he’s offered the job, he’s definitely going to do it,” the source told The Post.
The Post has learned Kerr has had conversations with his bosses at Turner Sports about adjusting his schedule as an analyst during the upcoming playoffs should he be named the Knicks’ head coach.
Kerr’s name emerged as a top candidate based on his ties with Jackson. He was part of the Bulls’ three straight championship teams from 1996 to 1998 and the two have remained close. His knowledge of the triangle offense is said to be an asset.
First and foremost, it would be disappointing to lose Kerr as a broadcaster for the 2014 Playoffs. He’s an excellent basketball mind that provides valuable insight during every game he covers, having the experience as both a player and general manager. This coupled with his relationship with Jackson is exactly why he may ultimately be the next coach of the Knicks.
Although Kerr has zero coaching experience, it’s not hard to see him making a seamless transition like Mark Jackson did when he went from broadcaster to head coach of the Warriors.
The Warriors will be playing in their second straight postseason starting Saturday.
Kerr might seem an unlikely choice considering he has no coaching experience. But that is becoming more common in the NBA. Mark Jackson went from broadcaster to first-time coach at Golden State, where the Warriors have made two straight playoff appearances. Go back a few years and Doc Rivers made a successful transition from analyst to coaching. Jason Kidd, who had no previous coaching experience, led the Nets to the playoffs in his first season.
A Knicks turnaround under Kerr, a first year coach, would not be unprecedented, but that does not mean it’s destined for success, either. Kerr’s own broadcast partner, Charles Barkley, did not exactly give Kerr a ringing endorsement.
“I just feel bad the way they treated Mike Woodson,” Barkley told The Post. “The Kerr thing could be interesting, but I don’t know what the player situation is. This league is about players, so it’s going to depend on what he has to work with. He’s not going to do anything better with this team.”
Pau Gasol to the Knicks?
Kerr may not be the only big addition — and former player — that Jackson is looking to bring in. There is speculation that he could also turn his attention to Pau Gasol, who he coached to two NBA championships with the Lakers. Here’s more from Yahoo Sports:
“I’m happy for him and the position that he got,” Gasol said. “I’m always going to be a big fan and a friend. I would listen.”
Despite the struggle in recent years, Gasol seemed very much at peace during his postseason media briefing on Thursday. The main reason is because he can help decide his own future as a free agent this offseason.
“This year is a little different,” Gasol said. “Every time I said [he felt sentimental] is because I didn’t know if I was going to be traded. That has been kind of a theme for the last three years. But this year that possibility is out of the question. Now it’s because I will be in charge of my future, my destiny and I have to listen to the different possibilities that I will have on the table.”
While flying under the radar, Gasol put up averages of over 17 points and nine rebounds in 60 games for the failing Lakers this season. He was often playing out of position and in uncomfortable spots on the floor, not to mention had a borderline terrible relationship with head coach Mike D’Antoni.
His main goal, though, was to leave little doubt that he can still play. Jackson has definitely taken notice, and if there is one man in this league that could resurrect Gasol’s career, it would be Jackson.
“I want to enjoy the moment and not be too stressed about it, even though at some point I’m going to have to make a decision,” said Gasol, who is improving from his recent bout with vertigo. “It will be exciting. I look at this as an opportunity. For the first, and maybe only time, I will be a free agent where I can choose. It’s exciting. It’s nothing that I’ve experienced in the NBA.”
Gasol offered his polite goodbyes to the media and Lakers fans as he had in recent years at the end of the season. Thursday’s, however, might have been a true farewell.
“I’m very grateful to be a part of this franchise and the city,” Gasol said. “I will always be part of this franchise and this city no matter what. If I don’t come back, that’s how I feel about it. I’m thankful for everything I experienced in this city, the fans, the media, everyone.”
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