Toni Kukoc thinks Steve Kerr would be a fine coach
Mike Woodson hasn't had "Knicks coach'' removed from his title yet, but Phil Jackson is expected to do that sometime in the coming days.
The Knicks' new president completed exit interviews with the players Friday -- and for the second straight day, Woodson was not a part of them. It's clear he is not part of the Knicks' future, either.
After Jackson decides Woodson's fate, one of the first calls he's expected to make is to TNT analyst Steve Kerr. The former Suns general manager won three championships while playing for the Bulls under Jackson, and they have remained close.
Kerr has said he wants to get into coaching, and he knows the ins and outs of the triangle offense that helped Jackson win an NBA-record 11 titles as a coach for the Bulls and Lakers.
One of Kerr's former teammates thinks he will be a fine coach but has some concerns about him going from the broadcast table to the bench. "I know Steve Kerr well and his basketball IQ is really high," Toni Kukoc said on SiriusXM Friday. "He knows everything about basketball. I am just concerned about his willingness to be a coach, travel, spend that time in the hotels, the locker rooms, the games . . . If he's ready to do that, I don't see any problem with Steve being a good basketball coach.''
Kerr could be one of many people with ties to Jackson who join the Knicks.
Jackson signed former Laker Lamar Odom on Wednesday and reportedly will hire former Bulls scout Clarence Gaines Jr. to work in the front office.
Pau Gasol, who won two titles under Jackson with the Lakers, will be a free agent and might be looking to leave Los Angeles. Gasol could join his brother Marc in Memphis, but he told reporters in Los Angeles that he wouldn't mind reuniting with Jackson. "I'm happy for him and the position that he got,'' Gasol said. "I'm always going to be a big fan and a friend. I would listen.''
The Knicks are over the salary cap and don't have much to offer Gasol. They likely would have to do a sign-and-trade, perhaps involving Tyson Chandler -- if the Lakers were willing. But if Gasol signed for more than one season, it would impact how much the Knicks have in their 2015 free-agent fund. Chandler is in the final year of his deal.
The Knicks went 37-45 and missed the playoffs for the first time in four years. Amar'e Stoudemire said players didn't always "buy into" what Woodson wanted and that they need "true pros" on the roster next season. Chandler said the Knicks need "to establish a winning culture" and believes Jackson will create that.
"I don't think you can find a better guy than him," he said. "We've all seen what Pat Riley has been able to do in Miami, not being a coach, being upstairs. So I think if you're a winner, you're a winner, and especially if you're in the top position, it will kind of bleed down to the others.''
Said Kukoc, "He has the idea how to put the team together, which pieces are missing right now. Obviously there's a lot of stuff that needs to be done, but if somebody's going to be ready to do it, it is Phil.''
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