Just weeks after losing out on the services of former NBA guard Steve Kerr, Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks have reportedly targeted 18-year veteran Derek Fisher as the top choice to fill their vacant head coach position.
Sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein that the Knicks plan to aggressively pursue and likely attempt to hire Fisher this week. Jackson, the Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations, has reportedly been interested in Fisher ever since Kerr opted for a 5-year, $25 million contract with the Golden State Warriors.
The Knicks’ offer to Fisher “could take shape quickly in the early part of the week,” a source told ESPN. However, the organization is said to be proceeding with caution due to the manner in which Kerr, who engaged in intense contract talks with Jackson, spurned the franchise in favor of Golden State.
“Everyone felt that Kerr was a done deal too,” a separate source said. “Only Phil knows.”
Fisher, 39, spent the 2013-14 NBA season as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he has yet to announce his retirement. The Knicks are concerned about his possible return to the court next season, Stein notes.
The NBA recently fined Jackson $25,000 for making public comments about his interest in Fisher, who was in the midst of the playoff run with the Thunder.
Like Kerr, Fisher was intimately familiar with Jackson’s preferred style of play; the veteran point guard was a key member of the Jackson-led Los Angeles Lakers teams that won five NBA championships in the 2000’s. Fisher is also a respected member of the NBA community, having previously served as the president of the NBA Players Association.
Despite ample experience as a player, Fisher has never served as a professional coach in any capacity. Financial details on his potential deal with the Knicks aren't yet known, but the contract Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd signed with his franchise in 2013 may provide evidence as to Fisher’s market value.
Kidd signed a four-year, $10.5 million contract with the Nets, $7.5 million of which is guaranteed. Like Fisher, he spent nearly two decades as an NBA point guard, and he became a candidate for the Nets job despite never having coached an NBA game.