Derek Fisher has been linked to the Knicks head coaching vacancy for weeks now, despite still being employed by the Oklahoma City Thunder and playing meaningful minutes for them throughout a run that just ended Saturday at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs.
Now that the Thunder’s season is over, Fisher can more seriously contemplate the options that lay before him, which seem to include the Knicks job as well as one potentially with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was too soon for Fisher to have made anything resembling a future career decision, but speaking to reporters at exit interviews on Sunday, he did admit that his prior relationships with Phil Jackson and the Lakers organization will make his eventual choice a complicated one, no matter the direction he goes.
From Royce Young of ESPN.com:
“There’s for sure huge layers added to [the decision],” Fisher said. “The personal relationship and professional relationship that I’ve had with Phil Jackson over the years, and being in the position that he’s in. And also, with the Lakers having an opening, it for sure adds layers to it. But like other important decisions in life, I don’t think you can be driven by what’s going on externally. You have to have an internal set of boundaries and just kind of a compass that you make decisions by. I’ll combine all those things as I try and make the best decision possible.”
On Friday, Jackson said Fisher is “a person that’s on my list of guys that could be very good candidate for this job.”
In the closing moments of Game 6, in which the Thunder were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs, Fisher took extra time to exit the floor, later saying he wanted to understand and appreciate the moment, knowing it could be his last on the floor in his 18-year career. After signing a one-year deal last July, Fisher announced via Instagram that this would be his final season, but has since wavered a bit, seeming to consider a return.
Fisher went on to discuss how he believes working in a front office or coaching from the sidelines would help him achieve his calling in life, which is helping others from a leadership position.
He’s always been a respected locker room presence and a calm leader on the floor who’s produced in the most pressure-packed situations, but coaching presents an entirely different set of challenges. Jason Kidd went directly from playing to being a head coach, and Fisher’s demeanor would seem to allow him to do the same — whether in New York with Phil Jackson immediately, or eventually somewhere else.