In the New York’s search to find their next head coach, they were snubbed by Steve Kerr, who took the Warriors’ deal, and Mark Jackson, who took a job at ESPN. Jackson is still an option, while Kerr, obviously, is now out of the picture. At this moment, Derek Fisher, the current point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, is a top candidate for the job. A few days ago, Jackson was fined $25,000 for talking to Fisher about the coaching job while he was still under contract with the Thunder.
“I like to have a relationship — a prior relationship — with a coach, so that we know that we’ve gone through some kinds of issues together, we’ve dealt with some type of battle situations, we’ve had conflicts, and we’ve had disagreements, and we know how to work things out,” Jackson said last week.
The 17-year NBA veteran, who averaged 8.3 points per game over his career, was coached by now Knicks president Phil Jackson in Los Angeles for nine years. In addition to having the player-coach relationship that Jackson wants, Fisher also has experience leading a team. The past two seasons, in which he was a backup in Oklahoma City, Fisher was the veteran leader of the Thunder.
This past year, Oklahoma City had three players who had 10 or more years of playing experience, and Fisher was the only one with more than 12 years of playing. Although he only averaged 3.8 points per game in the playoffs this past season, his contributions as a leader and teacher to the Thunder’s young point guards Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson were seen consistently.
One of the biggest risks in signing Fisher is his lack of experience as a head coach. His situation this year is much like Jason Kidd’s last year. After being the veteran backup point guard on their respective teams, they were scouted as a coach for another team as soon as they got eliminated from the playoffs. Kidd went on to become the Nets head coach. After finishing the 2013 calendar year with a 10-21 record, Brooklyn turned it around to finish 44-38 and win a first round playoff series.
If the Knicks are serious about Fisher, they will likely act soon. Phil Jackson already said he expects the search for a new coach to be finished before July.