Phil Jackson wasn’t lying when he said this process could take awhile. Weeks back, Jackson stated in a press conference that the coaching search may be slow-going, but hopefully resolved when the summer begins.
For weeks, the Knicks and top candidate Steve Kerr have flirted with one another, with nearly every New York newspaper reporting that the two sides are close. We’ve been hearing since the start of May that a deal could be done soon, but we’ve yet to get that deal. For a while, part of the problem seemed to be that Kerr was drawing interest from several different teams and he was trying to make up his mind.
According to Ian Begley, it seems that Kerr has decided on the Knicks, but the current hold-up is in contract details:
Negotiations between Steve Kerr and the New York Knicks continued on Monday, but the two sides could not reach a deal, according to a league source. Negotiations are expected to continue Tuesday as the Knicks and Kerr try to finalize a contract that will make the TNT broadcaster the next coach at Madison Square Garden.
Contract details are unclear at this point. One contract figure discussed earlier this month was a five-year deal worth $25 million, according to a league source with knowledge of the talks.
The negotiation seems to be mostly in contract length. Kerr is asking for a five-year deal, which would take him through to the end of Phil Jackson’s deal as President of Basketball Operations. However, the Knicks are trying to push a four-year deal.
From Kerr’s end, he’s smart in trying to secure further job security and more money. A coach’s contract doesn’t affect a team’s cap space, and James Dolan has enough money in his couch cushions to pay Kerr whatever number he’s asking for.
However, the Knicks also aren’t wrong in haggling over the details of length and price. First off, job security as an NBA coach is almost nonexistent. Despite the length of a coach’s contract, they’re usually the first ones to get tossed overboard when the ship starts to take on water. Secondly, in this particular instance, Kerr has no coaching experience, and it’s clear he favors New York for his ties to Phil Jackson. The Knicks and Jackson certainly want to give Kerr a shot, but if the summer of 2015 is as promising as it looks now for the cap-space-loaded Knicks, they’re going to want a legitimate coach they believe can take them to title contention. There’s no saying Kerr can’t be that guy, but if he isn’t, it makes for a cleaner separation if the Knicks can part ways with Kerr through contract expiration than firing him.
At this point, it’d be nice to just get this thing done, or at least give it some more time and let the Knicks explore their options. For now, we might stop taking the “deal done soon” bait until the ink is on the paper.
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