Phil Jackson says he will not coach Knicks, Steve Kerr verbally committed before Warriors job came open

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Phil Jackson is trying to change the culture of the New York Knicks. Which seems a lot like the job Sisyphus had, but Jackson is trying. This has been easily the most secrative, paranoid organization in the NBA, one that guarded the mundane as if it were classified troop locations in Afganistan.

Jackson’s arrival brought hope to New York fans, but his arrival has not seen the hiring of a sexy new coach — or any coach — and Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been swayed from testing the free agent market. Neither of which is really a big deal, but when you’ve been expected to walk across the Hudson and turn water into wine — or convert the Knicks roster into a contender — any setback real or imagined becomes a story.

Jackson broke with tradition and spoke to the media again on Thursday, as reported by Ian Begley at ESPNNewYork.com.

Those topics started with this: No, he’s not going to coach the Knicks. For the millionth time no.

On the prospect of Jackson himself taking over the team, the 13-time world champion said, “at this point, unless the Lord heals me” he wouldn’t be physically able to coach.

He said that the idea he could coach for one season as a “transition period” and hand over the reins to another coach next year has been discussed. But Jackson said that’s not an idea that he’s comfortable with.

What Jackson reiterated is he wants a coach he has worked with before. And yes, that means he is waiting on Derek Fisher (who is a tad busy still as the backup point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder).

(Jackson) also addressed the Knicks’ ongoing coaching search, saying that he has interviewed several candidates. He referred to Thunder guard Derek Fisher as “a person that’s on my list of guys that could be very good candidates for this job.”

As for the one that got away — Steve Kerr — Jackson said he thought he had a deal in place but that all turned when Mark Jackson was fired in Golden State.

“Unfortunately for him, he committed to me the day before the job opened with Golden State. So I had to kind of release him to actually go to this job and say you have to do what’s right for yourself,” Jackson said. “I understood entirely the process he was going through to have that job open up. That was something he kind of thought would be a good fit for him. So that’s good, we’re happy for him.”

There were also questions about the Knicks other big issue this summer — Carmelo Anthony becoming a free agent. Anthony almost certainly will test the free agent waters this summer (he reportedly said he wants the “full Dwight Howard treatment” in terms of being recruited” but Jackson is trying to talk him out of that.

Jackson said Friday that he has talked to Anthony about the possibility of opting in to the final year of his deal and testing free agency in the summer of 2015, to which Anthony said he’d “think about it.”

Jackson said he “not losing sleep” over the idea Anthony could bolt this summer — the Bulls and Rockets are among a number of teams expected to make a run — but he is concerned Anthony could leave. If so, he says they will rebuild without him.

No Anthony would mean a very rough next season in New York, but clearing the decks of salary by the summer of 2015 could be a cleaner path to a total restructuring of this roster. Which is needed.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell wins throwback Dunk Contest with Vince Carter tribute

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LOS ANGELES — The 2018 Dunk Contest went retro.

And it worked.

The throwbacks started with Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. going quick-change to pay tribute to his father, the 1984 winner of the Dunk Contest.

Nance later had the best dunk of the night, but it wasn’t enough in the face of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell‘s strong and consistent night highlight by his throwback dunk — donning a Vince Carter Toronto dinosaur jersey and doing VC’s famed 360 dunk — which got Mitchell the 48 points he needed to hold-off Nance and win the contest. It was over.

“Growing up I was a big dunker,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense, and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos. I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.

“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year. I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. Tried it last night, didn’t make it… But to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”

Earlier in the night, Mitchell had done another tribute worn a Darrell Griffith jersey — Utah’s Dr. Dunkenstien, who went to Louisville like Mitchell — for an off-the-side-of-the-backboard jumping over Kevin Hart dunk.

“You know, just knowing your history, I think, is the biggest thing,” Mitchell said of the throwbacks. “Just understanding where this game originated, I guess the OGs of the game, I guess you would call it. But just understanding. Even if it’s just dunking. Whether it’s dunking in the NBA in general, Darrell Griffith, we went to the same school in college. I know Darrell very well. Both got drafted by the Jazz, and he was an incredible player. To be able to pay homage to him meant a lot to me.”

For my money, Nance had the dunk of the night, his first in the Finals, a double off-the-backboard throwdown that you had to see on replay to get (it wasn’t as evident in the building what he had done until it was re-shown on the big screen).

It was a fun contest all night long.

Mitchell (the leader in the Rookie of the Year race) started it off brilliantly — he brought out a second backboard, and did a self-alley-oop off one to the other.

Larry Nance Jr. did his tribute to his father with his first dunk, and on his second one came from behind the backboard, going around the world, and threw it down hard. That got him into the Finals.

Oladipo missed all three of his dunks in the first round, which almost doomed his night. He, however, did a dunk wearing the Black Panther mask for his second dunk, which impressed.

Mitchell said he wanted to beat Dennis Smith Jr. because the Mavericks’ point guard had beaten him in dunk contests for years. Smith had one monster dunk, when he went between the legs and threw it down hard and got the full 50. It just wasn’t enough to get Smith to the Finals.

Nance started off the final round by bringing out his father again to throw an alley-oop to a windmill. Mitchell responded with a self-alley-oop to a windmill that was flat-out wicked. That got Mitchell a 50-46 lead after one round of the Finals.

Then Mitchell went to Vince Carter and “it was over.”

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

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LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

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LOS ANGELES — Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

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LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.