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Frank Hamblen would gladly reunite with Phil Jackson in New York

Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Hamblen watches in

Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Hamblen watches in disbelief as the Phoenix Suns connect on a three-point shot in the fourth quarter Tuesday, April 5, 2005, in Phoenix. Credit: AP / Paul Connors

Frank Hamblen was enjoying another warm day in Southern California recently. He was sitting on the patio that overlooks his pool, living the good life.

But Hamblen, a longtime assistant coach under Phil Jackson, said if the Knicks' president called and asked him to work for him again, he would get on a plane to New York.

"Absolutely," Hamblen said. "I'm bored to death."

He added, "Opportunity is an amazing thing. I know Phil was sitting in Playa Del Rey bored to death, itching to get back in. I don't know if he'll even call. I don't know what's going through his mind. But he has my number."

Steve Kerr is the leading candidate to coach the Knicks. Jackson could meet with Kerr this weekend; the TNT analyst will be in New York to call Sunday's Nets-Raptors playoff game.

Another potential candidate is Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher when the Thunder's season is over.

Neither has been a coach before, so each would need experienced assistants. Hamblen, Bucks assistant coach Jim Cleamons and Bill Cartwright would be the likeliest candidates to join the Knicks.

Hamblen, 67, who earned seven NBA championship rings as an assistant under Jackson with the Bulls and Lakers, knows the triangle offense backward and forward. He spent a couple of years coaching Kerr in Chicago and believes that if Kerr is willing to leave his family and life in California, he'll be successful on the bench.

"I think he'd be a heck of a coach," Hamblen said.

"He's played in this league a long time, has been on championship teams, has been under great coaches -- Phil, [Gregg] Popovich. He knows what he wants. I think he'd be excellent.

"He's been on the management side for a while with Phoenix, has had an opportunity being with TNT to see a lot of players, a lot of teams. He's a bright guy. I think he'd be terrific."

Hamblen used similar words to describe Jackson. He watched part of Jackson's news conference Wednesday and believes the Knicks are in great hands.

"He seemed very in charge and at ease," Hamblen said. "I think he'll have fun with this job. He's in a city he loves. He didn't come there to fail.

"They haven't had a championship in a long time. I know they're dying for one. I think they got the right guy. Phil's a special guy. It's not a quick fix, but with him, it will be quicker than most people who would have come in and taken that job."

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