Steve Kerr only became a head coaching candidate because Phil Jackson was interested in hiring him to revitalize the Knicks. But Kerr ended up spurning New York for the better roster and bigger contract offered by the Warriors, sending Jackson and the Knicks back to square one in their ongoing search.
Jackson believed that Kerr was already on board, and told free agent to be Carmelo Anthony as much. But when the deal fell through, possibly due to a lowball offer from the Knicks, Jackson was as surprised as anyone, and told reporters recently that he had a commitment from Kerr before the job with the Warriors had even become available.
Kerr didn’t refute the allegation, and admitted he was very close to taking the job with the Knicks.
Steve Kerr, in response to Phil Jackson’s remark that he had “a commitment” from him to coach the Knicks, didn’t dispute the Zen Master, saying “we were very, very close’’ and “I thought I was coming there.”
Nevertheless, Kerr said there was not a deal done when he jumped at the Warriors offer of five years and $22 million. …
“It’s not inaccurate,’’ Kerr said before broadcasting possibly his final game for TNT Saturday night in Game 6 of the Oklahoma City-San Antonio Western Conference finals. “We were very, very close. We never agreed to a deal. But we were very close. Things kind of went back and forth a bit. I thought I was coming there. Phil couldn’t have handled it any better. As I said last week, he knew I had to be 100 percent sure and he gave me the space I needed. It was just a better fit — Golden State.’’
There are a couple of interesting points to this story. One, Kerr clearly weaseled out of a deal to coach the Knicks, but ultimately made a better long-term decision. And two, good on Jackson for not trying too hard to twist Kerr’s arm into signing in New York if in fact he was going to do so with trepidation about his new situation.