What is Plan B for Knicks, Phil Jackson?

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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.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.

PBT Extra: If Portland is going to turn series around it starts with Damian Lillard

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This was the year the Trail Blazers were going to break through. They were defending better as a team. There was some depth on offense. And Damian Lillard was playing at a level that will get him on many voters’ MVP ballots.

Instead, they are down 0-2 to Anthony Davis and New Orleans, having dropped both games at home to open the series. Portland is on the verge of being bounced in the first round for the third time in four years.

If Portland is going to turn this series around, it starts with Lillard, something I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. C.J. McCollum needs to get more buckets, Jusuf Nurkic needs to contribute more on both ends, but for Portland it all begins and ends with Lillard and it’s on him to start the turnaround.

Rockets easily overcome James Harden’s horrid shooting night, win Game 2 over Timberwolves

AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith
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James Harden shot 2-for-18 – the worst field-goal percentage (11%) on so many attempts in a playoff game in nearly a decade and the worst ever in a first-round game.

The Rockets still won by 20 because of their stout defense, a strong supporting star in Chris Paul and Harden’s foul-drawing ability.

Houston’s took a 2-0 series lead with a 102-82 win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Game 3 will be Saturday in Minnesota, but the top-seeded Rockets have seized firm control.

Every No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seed to take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven first-round series have won it. There’s little reason to believe Houston will become the exception.

The Rockets are no longer as reliant on Harden, the likely MVP who seemed to wear down last postseason.

They buckled down defensively before letting up in a fourth quarter that was entirely garbage time. Houston forced more turnovers (16) than allowed assists (15) and contested shot after shot.

It’s becoming increasingly clear the Timberwolves have no quick solution to the Karl-Anthony Towns problem, and it’s not simply a matter of deciding to feed him more. Yes, he can get favorable post matchups against the Rockets’ switching scheme. But Minnesota lacks quality entry passers. The Timberwolves are also short on shooters and need him to spread the floor – even if that skill is less-helpful after a switch. Towns scored just five points in 24 minutes tonight.

His teammates were barely, if at all, better. The focus has turned to Towns, but this was a far-wider letdown.

On the other hand, Paul (27 points and eight assists) led Houston’s offense. Gerald Green (21 points and 12 rebounds) got hot. Even Harden (7-of-8 on free throws) chipped in thanks to his elite foul-drawing ability.

The Rockets aren’t always the most enjoyable team to watch, and that was the case tonight. Mostly, because they put this game out of reach long before it actually ended.