The Wall Street Journal reports that Knicks President Phil Jackson recently told Carmelo Anthony that he intends to hire Steve Kerr to coach the Knicks. Kerr has been at the top of the candidates list for months, even before Jackson took over basketball operations a month ago.
Knicks president Phil Jackson told free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony that he is fully expecting to hire Steve Kerr as the team's next coach when Jackson and Anthony sat down for dinner in Manhattan last week, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The meeting suggested a couple of things: First, that Jackson, in his new role as an executive, won't necessarily make his decisions—like firing Mike Woodson, or hiring Kerr—based on his star player's opinions. On the other hand, the sit-down with Anthony was a strong sign that, despite Jackson's recent comments suggesting that he'd like Anthony to take a pay cut, he'll likely still put on a full-court press to retain the 29-year-old star forward this summer.
In sitting down with Anthony, who has made it abundantly clear that he wants to play for a winning team next season, Jackson wanted to allay any concerns Anthony might have about Kerr's inexperience as a coach. (Kerr, who played under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls, has never coached at any level.) Jackson tried to do that, the sources said, by telling Anthony that he'd be both visible and available on the sidelines while the team takes part in training camp.
"Phil wanted [Anthony] to know that Kerr and his thinking will simply be an extension of himself," one of the sources said. "He wanted Carmelo to know he'll still be able to coach him by extension."
It was reported earlier this week that Kerr and the Knicks were working to complete the hire. The next questions are about what happens with Anthony. Did Jackson convince Anthony that Kerr is a good choice for a coach for him? Anthony has made it clear he wants to re-sign with the Knicks, and they can offer him the most money. But Anthony's going to have a few options in free agency and coach is going to matter to him.
After all, Mike D'Antoni left the Knicks because of a disagreement with Anthony, and Mike Woodson was Melo's preference based on his willingness to let Anthony isolate for play after play... until the wins stopped coming this season. Convincing Anthony to play a different way, in a Triangle set that promotes ball movement and fluidity could be difficult. Then again, arguably the two greatest scorers in NBA history thrived in the Triangle.
Either way, it looks like Kerr will be coaching the Knicks next season, whether Melo is there or not.