<
>

Kerr offers his sympathies to Woody


It sounds as if Steve Kerr is ready to take over as Knicks head coach.

But before he does, Kerr wants to offer his sympathies to departed head coach Mike Woodson.

Kerr said on his Sirius XM NBA show Monday that the Knicks’ struggles this season were "circumstantial" and largely out of Woodson’s control.

“This is the NBA. Coaches basically know when they go in that they are likely to be fired. It’s a brutal business, it’s a brutal profession. I think back to a year ago when the Knicks were one of the best stories in the league, they won 54 games. I thought Mike Woodson was one of the top coaches in the league. He did a fantastic job. And then everything fell apart this year for a number of reasons,” Kerr said.

“Tyson Chandler’s injury was a major factor. I thought the J.R. Smith suspension early in the season threw the team off right from the start. And then some personnel moves that didn’t work out. They lost a lot of veteran leadership from last year’s team -- guys like Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas -- and they were replaced by younger players who probably weren’t as equipped to handle the adversity that the team faced this year. So I think this was largely circumstantial but this is the way the NBA works, the coach is usually the first one to pay.

“I feel bad for Mike,” Kerr added in his first on-the-record interview about the Knicks' job. “I think he’s done an excellent job in New York, but between the struggles of the team this year and the new regime with Phil Jackson I think this was -- and I don’t think I’m the only one saying this -- I think the writing was sort of on the wall the last couple of months. And now here we are.”

Kerr said that he expects to hear from Jackson about the Knicks’ coaching vacancy.

He added on ESPN Chicago’s “Carmen & Jurko Show” on Monday afternoon that he has a desire to coach in the NBA, something Kerr has said in the past.

"Yeah, yeah and I've been pretty open about that the last few years and I think that obviously that's one of the reasons that this is all out there," Kerr said. "... When the time comes, I'll be interested."

Kerr is believed to be at the top of Jackson’s wish list. The TNT analyst and former Suns GM won three titles in Chicago under Jackson.

Kerr, who has never coached in the NBA, said Monday that he and Jackson are still close.

"We've remained close since he retired from coaching," Kerr said. "Even while he was coaching the Lakers I would often have dinner with him on the road if I was playing for another team with him just to catch up."

Kerr won’t have to make time to catch up with Jackson if things go the way most expect them to. He’ll be working with him every day.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.