The New York Knicks are expected to be in the market for a new head coach in the offseason, although the possibility remains that Knicks president Phil Jackson tabs current interim Kurt Rambis to be the long-term coach. However, a more radical option may be on the table. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reports that there's "talk" of a scenario that involves Jackson coaching home games and Rambis coaching road games next season.
Jackson reportedly suggested this same setup when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers, but late owner Jerry Buss "flatly rejected" the idea. Would Knicks owner James Dolan be willing to accept something like this as a compromise to get one of the best coaches ever on the sidelines, even if it's for only half the games? Jackson and Rambis share many of the same philosophies, but having two coaches would be a bit of a circus for this rebuilding team.
Going the traditional route would be better and remains the more likely choice, and Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton will be one of the hottest names on the coaching market. Walton, who played for Jackson in Los Angeles, "will get a long look" this summer, but there will be competition for his services and there are still no guarantees he leaves his cushy gig by the Bay right away.
And while Walton seems like a much safer bet than Derek Fisher was, Jackson could have some apprehension when it comes to hiring another one of his recent former players given how Fisher's tenure played out. Jackson wanted to give Fisher more autonomy to make his own decisions, but that led to a communication breakdown between the two men:
Jackson's first Knicks head coach, Derek Fisher, was supposed to be the vessel who articulated Jackson's vision to the Knicks' players.
Instead, Fisher was more like a glass wall. Jackson could see the team, but nothing was getting through.
Jackson would text Fisher observations and suggestions, and Fisher would respond in one-word answers. When the Knicks held a coaches' retreat at The Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey at the end of summer, a meeting that sources said was meant for bonding and philosophical discussion about the team, Fisher was unable to attend.
That freedom Jackson gave Fisher may also have played a role in the secret getaway to Los Angeles in early October that turned disastrous due to the Matt Barnes incident. Jackson has admitted fault in not having enough communication with Fisher, and he's made it a point to be more involved with Rambis, a longtime confidant and associate head coach.
It's that trusting relationship that could lead to Rambis staying on for the long-term despite a horrible head coaching record, but if Jackson prefers to take matters into his own hands, perhaps he does indeed try to convince Dolan to go along with the dual head coaching scenario.
And if that failed miserably? There's always that opt-out clause in Jackson's contract after next season that could give him an escape to either Los Angeles with fiancée Jeanie Buss or even retirement. While returning to the sidelines or the Lakers seems unlikely at this point, nothing can ever be ruled out.
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