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Phil Jackson Told Carmelo He Plans To Hire Steve Kerr As Head Coach

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WSJKnicks 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.” The two never discussed the idea of someone other than Kerr coaching the team.

I don’t think this is surprising anyone. Although there’s a big difference from “fully expecting” and actually hiring. Especially with the LA opportunity looming. If I’m Steve Kerr I’m thinking there are 2 high profile head coach openings, one with the worst owner in the NBA, one with one of the best ownership groups, I’d be taking my talents to the west coast. But thats just me. Just like Phil I fully expect Steve Kerr to be on the bench for the Knicks next year. The connection was immediately mentioned, his name has been penciled since Phil was signed. Its inevitable.

What the Wall Street Journal points out, and what I think is the more important tidbit, is that Phil Jackson clearly views Carmelo as part of the Knicks future. Having a sit down and explaining his plans obviously points to Phil wanting Carmelo to stick around. Whether this means he’s willing to break down and offer that max money to Carmelo if Melo doesn’t take that pay cut remains to be seen. And whether Carmelo can accept another shitty season in 2014-2015 while waiting for cap space is an unknown variable too. I think from both parties there are some pretty obvious, major reasons why the Knicks-Carmelo relationship may be coming to an end.