GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Phil Jackson has promised only one person an interview for the Knicks’ coaching job: Kurt Rambis.
The Knicks’ president said he resisted making and taking phone calls until the season ended and that he eventually will reach out to other possible candidates. But it won’t be an open coaching search. Jackson is looking for someone he knows and someone who runs the triangle offense.
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“Only people I probably know will be in the interview process,” Jackson said Thursday. “I will reach out to make connections to some people. But I’ve been in this position, in the NBA over 50 years, and I’ve seen a lot of situations where coaches end up coming in without simpatico with the general manager, and those things don’t work well. So someone who has compatibility with what I do as a leader would have to be in sync with what we do.”
That would seem to eliminate Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau and Mark Jackson from consideration. Some possibilities from Jackson’s past include former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw and Warriors assistant Luke Walton. But Walton might not want to leave Golden State for a rebuilding project. Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt and former Thunder coach Scott Brooks could be dark-horse candidates.
Rambis appears to be the leading candidate despite his 9-19 record as interim coach. He and Jackson are close friends and see the game the same way. Jackson also credited Rambis for emphasizing the triangle after replacing Derek Fisher.
“They had an immersion in the triangle when Kurt started coaching the team,” Jackson said. “They started executing it with more structure. We saw some progress. But we have to make the next step.”
Jackson said he’s not sure how long the process of hiring a coach will take. He said he could have a coach by May or July. But knowledge of the triangle seems to be one of the prerequisites.
“That’s what I was brought here for to do, build a system,” Jackson said. “That’s all part and package of what we’re doing.”
When asked about the critics of the triangle, Jackson got defensive. “Who are these people?” he said. “Why would people even say that? Do they have 11 championships to show you when they talk about that? They got a lot of excuses.”
Jackson said the Knicks have to get better players and the system will run better. He likes some of the pieces he’s added and said he plans to honor the full five years of his contract.
“Yeah, I am,” he said. “We got a few bricks in the load this year. Not as many as I hoped, but we have a few bricks in the foundation and we are starting to go forward. I would like to have stones, but bricks sometimes will be OK, too, in a foundation.”
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