After one former Phil Jackson point guard spurned the New York Knicks to take the Golden State Warriors’ coaching vacancy, the Zen Master has set his eyes on another one of his former players.
Derek Fisher — who played under Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers — has reportedly caught Jackson’s eye, and Jackson wants to interview Fisher for the position. Fisher is in a bit of a tricky position, as he is still playing in the playoffs with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Sources told ESPN.com on Sunday that Jackson is planning to proceed with a deliberate coaching search after the Knicks, convinced they were getting Steve Kerr, watched their runaway No. 1 candidate choose the Golden State Warriors instead.
Fisher’s interest in coaching remains a matter of debate, with Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks telling the New York Daily News over the weekend that it wouldn’t surprise him if the 18-year-veteran decided to play on for one more season. Either way, Fisher is trying to deflect all questions about his future — as a coach or front-office executive — until after the playoffs, hoping to limit distractions as the Thunder prepare to face the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals starting Monday night.
During the last round of the playoffs, Fisher said, “I would tell people to allow me to finish my career as a player before they give me another job after that. It’s humbling, just to think about people thinking of me in that manner, especially while I’m still playing. [But] I promise you this is the last thing on my mind at this point. I really haven’t thought about it that much. Hopefully there’s a lot of basketball left to be played this season for sure. Once that’s done we’ll go from there.”
Sources say that in addition to Fisher, the Knicks still have interest in Denver Nuggets coach Brian Shaw but do not currently plan to ask the Nuggets’ permission to speak with him. Because league rules restrict teams to offering only cash or draft picks as compensation for coaches, and not players, sources say New York fears it likely can’t meet the Nuggets’ demands if it were to try to get Shaw out of his contract.