Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two

What is Plan B for Knicks, Phil Jackson?


Steve Kerr was not only Plan A for Phil Jackson and the Knicks, he was the only plan. Jackson has not had a serious, sit down conversation with anyone else. Kerr was the guy. He was the lone target.

Kerr is now the head coach of the Golden State Warriors.

It’s a blow to any Knicks fan who simplistically believed “Phil Jackson is here, our problems are solved.” His mere presence does not solve all the Knicks’ problems. Even if Jackson is good at this job it’s going to take time — read: years — to really right this ship.

So what is Plan B for the Knicks after Kerr?

There doesn’t seem to be a great one, not one that’s going to be a great sell for Knicks fans. Phil Jackson does not have a large coaching tree to draw from and the names on the list are not going to be big and sexy enough to make the Big Apple happy. There will be disappointed fans.

What Jackson needs to find is someone who can help build a new culture in New York. The changes Jackson wants to bring to the franchise are about a dramatic shift in how things are done, a change in the status quo, and he needs a coach with the strength of personality to help pull that off. I’m just not sure if he can find that guy.

Here is a list of names that have been mentioned. They are in no particular order:

• No, Phil Jackson is not coming down to the bench. Not happening. Zero chance. He is done coaching, so stop asking.

Kurt Rambis. He is a Phil Jackson protegé, but he is also a guy that won 32 games in Minnesota — in two years. He was far from loved by his players. He has been a weak head coach at his stops, never commanded the respect of top players, and has seemed out of his depth in the role. And you want to sell him to New York as the answer?

• Brian Shaw. He is the coach of the Denver Nuggets, the question is can he be pried out of his three-year deal? What kind of compensation would be needed to make this work? The cost seems steep, if he were available at all. That said, Shaw is a coach with plenty of triangle experience.

• Tom Thibodeau. He is under contract in Chicago is unlikely the Bulls let Thibodeau walk anywhere — especially the Knicks. Despite some friction with GM Gar Forman management in Chicago knows Thibs is at the heart of what the Bulls have become. That said, he could help create a culture of winning and responsibility in NYC.

• Derek Fisher. Don’t laugh, he might be my dark horse pick. He’s a natural leader, he is respected by other players, he knows the system, and Jackson trusts him. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN and other sources have said it could happen.

• Tyronn Lue. A former Jackson player who is now an assistant coach for Doc Rivers, one well respected around the league. (Marc Stein of ESPN floated this name first.) Not a big name, not necessarily a triangle guy, but someone to keep an eye on.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)

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Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked

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The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.