Phil Jackson fired Mike Woodson on Monday. Now he has to turn his attention to the Knicks' next coach. Aside from dealing with Carmelo Anthony’s free agency, this is one of Jackson’s biggest decisions of the offseason.
Below, we handicap the field:
Steve Kerr: 2-1 odds
Kerr has long been viewed as the leader in the clubhouse to replace Woodson. It would surprise no one around the NBA if Kerr was hired by the end of the week. Kerr is close with Jackson. He won three titles in Chicago playing under the Zen Master. He also has an intimate knowledge of the triangle offense, which is believed to be a prerequisite to any coach Jackson hires.
Kerr, though, has to decide if he wants to leave the comforts of the TNT broadcast booth for the cauldron of coaching a team in the biggest media market in the country. He has never coached before.
Brian Shaw: 15-1
Shaw is another Jackson disciple. He won three titles as a Laker while playing for Jackson. After retirement, Shaw was hired as a scout and, later, an assistant coach with the Lakers. So like Kerr, Shaw has a strong understanding of Jackson’s triangle offense.
Shaw joining the Knicks is a long shot, though, because Shaw signed a three-year deal to coach the Denver Nuggets last spring. So the Knicks would likely have to offer Denver compensation if they wanted to hire Shaw -- just as the Clippers did in hiring then-Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Phil Jackson: 50-1
Jackson has said as recently as three weeks ago that he has no intention of coaching the Knicks. But in giving his answer to reporters earlier this month, Jackson didn’t seem to entirely rule out the possibility. We don’t think Jackson has any desire to return to the bench, where he’s won an NBA-record 11 titles.
But the notion that Jackson could coach the Knicks next season certainly isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
A source told ESPNLosAngeles.com' Ramona Shelburne in early March that Jackson would be open to the possibility of coaching for a short period of time if it was necessary.
Long shots: Derek Fisher, Mark Jackson, Kurt Rambis, Jim Cleamons
Jackson is under contract with the Warriors. If he is fired by Golden State, he may emerge as a candidate, but he has no ties to Jackson. The former St. John’s star and ex-Knick would likely be well received by the team’s fan base.
Fisher, who announced that he will retire after the season, is a favorite of Jackson but has no head-coaching experience.
Rambis and Cleamons have worked as assistants under Jackson, but neither is the big name that may be needed to satisfy Jackson’s boss, owner James Dolan.
Longer shots: Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, John Calipari
All three were thought to be strong candidates before Jackson was hired. But each coach has a strong track record of success and could seek some degree of control over personnel moves in his next job. That’s unlikely to be granted with Jackson as team president.
You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.