Phil Jackson can now speak to Derek Fisher about the Knicks' coaching vacancy, and that conversation could happen soon.
Fisher, 39, the leading candidate to coach the Knicks, saw his season and perhaps his playing career come to an end with the Thunder's overtime loss to the Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals late Saturday night. Fisher is leaning toward retirement and told reporters after the game that he would need a little time to regroup and decide what he wants to do.
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Jackson wants Fisher to coach the Knicks. Fisher also could be a candidate for the opening with his former team, the Lakers. He expects to speak to both teams.
"There'll be, I'm sure, conversations and talks at some point," Fisher said. "But this is still pretty raw and pretty fresh, what just happened.
"I don't think based on the emotions that I'm feeling right now that it's smart to start betting on what I will do next. I'm going to definitely take it seriously, and like I've always tried to do with everything in life, consider my options, consider what's best and then go from there. And I will try to do that as soon as possible so all parties involved can make the decisions that need to be made."
Fisher became the Knicks' top choice after Steve Kerr spurned Jackson and took the Golden State Warriors' job.
Jackson has said he wants to hire someone who is a leader and with whom he has a relationship and has gone through some issues together. Fisher, a point guard on all five of Jackson's championship teams with the Lakers, was a leader on those teams and in other areas of his life. Fisher was president of the players' union and spent plenty of time in New York during the labor negotiations in 2010.
Jackson did not speak to Fisher during the playoffs, and not just because he wanted him to focus on playing. Fisher was under contract with another team.
That also prevented Jackson from opening up about Fisher during a 40-minute sit-down with Knicks beat writers Friday, but Jackson did call him "a person that's on my list of guys that could be very good candidates for this job."
There are no guarantees that Fisher will take the position, as Jackson noted Friday.
"The last two summers, Derek and I have talked about the next step in his career," Jackson said. "So I kind of know what he wants to do, and his feelings. He's got family in L.A. He's got little kids still in L.A. I have no idea if he wants to move his family and come here. Those are things that he would have to express. There are so many unknowns."
Jackson has said he doesn't expect the coaching search to extend past this month. And Fisher said, "As soon as possible, I'm going to try to take the best next steps."
If Fisher decides he wants to stay in Los Angeles, pursue a front-office position or take a year off after playing 18 seasons and an NBA-record 259 playoff games, Jackson is expected to turn to someone else in his circle of trust, which includes Kurt Rambis, Jim Cleamons, Rick Fox, Bill Cartwright, Luke Walton and Ron Harper.
"I have a number of people I feel are in the loop and talking and conversing with me," Jackson said. "So I mean, that's going along and I don't think it's going to be a long period of time that is extended into July or anything like that. But I think we're just trying to get through this period of time and wait for a collection of individuals we feel will be the right people to talk to."
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