Phil Jackson got his man this time.
Derek Fisher has agreed to be the Knicks coach, according to multiple league sources. He will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday morning at the team's practice facility.
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Fisher reached an agreement Monday on a deal that is reported to be for five years and $25 million. Jackson and Fisher will try to produce the same results with the Knicks that they enjoyed with the Lakers.
Fisher was the point guard on five championship teams. The Knicks haven't won an NBA title since 1973 and have been past the first round of the playoffs only once in the last 14 years.
It took more than seven weeks for Jackson to hire Mike Woodson's successor. Fisher, 39, was Jackson's second choice after Steve Kerr turned down the Knicks president and took the Golden State Warriors' vacancy.
Jackson had to wait until the Oklahoma City Thunder's season was over before he could speak with Fisher, who finished his 18th and final NBA season May 30. Jackson spoke with Fisher last week for the first time, and they completed an agreement Monday afternoon.
Fisher will try to do what Jason Kidd did with the Nets and make a successful transition from player to coach.
Kidd endured some rough patches early this season but guided the Nets to a 44-38 record and the second round of the playoffs. Fisher likely will have some bumpy times, but he also will have arguably the greatest coach in NBA history in his corner to be a sounding board and counselor. Jackson won 11 NBA titles as a coach.
Fisher's job will be easier if he and Jackson can convince All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to buy into their vision of how they will make the Knicks a championship contender. Anthony can become a free agent July 1. Jackson has said he hopes Anthony will "opt in" for this season instead of opting out and testing free agency. That seems unlikely, given that he has been steadfast about opting out.
If Anthony re-signs, Jackson hopes he will take less money to give the Knicks more flexibility to sign other stars. The Knicks will be well under the salary cap after next season.
More experienced coaching candidates were available, including Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Lionel Hollins, Nate McMillan and George Karl.
But Jackson made it clear that he was looking for someone with whom he's worked before, someone he considers a forward thinker and a leader who knows everything about the triangle offense. Jackson also wanted to be a mentor to his first coach.
Fisher spent nine seasons with Jackson and reached seven NBA Finals while running the triangle. Fisher had a great rapport and relationship with temperamental superstar Kobe Bryant and was a vocal leader on those teams.
"He was a lead guard, and lead guards have a vision a lot of the time," Jackson said recently. "Derek is one of those lead guards that had a real good concept of the game and liked doing the skill work and the drill work that's necessary to hold guys to the premises of how to execute."
As Fisher's career was winding down with Oklahoma City, Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and coach Scott Brooks spoke highly of him as a leader and a future coach.
Fisher, a former president of the players' union, played in more playoff games (259) than anyone else in NBA history.
The NBA fined Jackson $25,000 last week for tampering when he said Fisher was a candidate while he still was under contract with the Thunder.
Jackson and Fisher will hire experienced coaches and other disciples of the triangle to be assistants. Former Lakers and Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis and former Knicks center and Bulls coach Bill Cartwright are leading candidates to join Fisher's staff.
Other possible assistants include Jim Cleamons, Rick Fox, Luke Walton and Ron Harper.
Jackson already has brought in people with whom he has worked. He hired former Bulls scout Clarence Gaines Jr. to work in the basketball department. Jackson also signed former Laker Lamar Odom, Fisher's former teammate, before the last game of the 2013-14 season.
Although Jackson seemed to be deliberate in his approach, there was a time element involved in naming a coach now. Jackson will be in Turkey for his son's wedding later this month. He said the search wouldn't extend into July.
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