Mike Dunleavy Sr. hopes to be the Knicks' new coach, but he acknowledges he's behind some candidates with more direct links to Phil Jackson.
Dunleavy, who met with Jackson last week, is friendly with the Knicks' president and has run the triangle offense. But most NBA people believe Jackson will hire someone from his inner circle.
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Thunder guard Derek Fisher is the leading candidate. Others include Kurt Rambis, Brian Shaw, Jim Cleamons, Luke Walton, Tyronn Lue and Bill Cartwright, all of whom played for or coached with Jackson.
Dunleavy, who has a 613-716 record in 17 seasons as coach of the Lakers, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Clippers, appeared on ESPN Radio's "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" Thursday and was asked if he thinks he has a shot at the Knicks' job.
"I hope so," he said. "I played in the triangle system down in Houston. It was kind of left over from when Tex Winter coached there. All my teams, I've run it as a transition set. The part of that was also the fact that I was thinking at some point in the playoffs, we'll run into Phil's teams, and by the time we get there, my guys will run the triangle very well and be prepared to play them.
"Maybe I'm the outside guy from the other guys that he'll talk to, former players who played in the system and other guys who coached under him in the system. But at least I do know the system. I have run it."
Fisher hasn't given any indication that he will go right from playing into coaching and won't address his future until after the Thunder's season ends. With the Spurs holding a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals, that could be soon.
Fisher is a Jackson favorite because of his leadership skills, ability to get players to respond to him -- notably Kobe Bryant -- and knowledge of the triangle. Fisher was the point guard on five NBA championship teams with the Lakers.
Shaw also is close to Jackson, but he's the Nuggets' coach and has said he doesn't want to leave Denver. The Nuggets would have to give the Knicks permission to speak with Shaw, and if the Knicks hired him, they would have to compensate Denver. But the Knicks have no first-round picks they can trade until the 2018 pick, and it would be more prudent to hold on to that and possibly use it in a trade for a player.
Rambis and Cleamons are assistants with the Lakers and Bucks, respectively, so the Knicks would need permission to interview them as well.
It's believed that Jackson's first choice is to hire a young coach whom he can mentor, which is why Steve Kerr was his original pick before Kerr accepted the Golden State job.
Dunleavy, 60, a Brooklyn native, also interviewed for the Lakers' vacancy. He believes Jackson will make the right choice and turn the Knicks into a winning team. "New Yorkers know basketball," he said. "They got a bunch of hope right now with Phil coming in . . . and I think he can deliver. He's just going to have to figure out where his comfort zone is and who he's comfortable with."
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