All spring, the Knicks appeared to be trending toward hiring Steve Kerr as coach. Phil Jackson even said Kerr verbally agreed to coach the Knicks, which Kerr didn’t deny. But just as a deal seemed near, Kerr filled the Warriors’ coaching vacancy.
Kerr reportedly sought a five-year, $30 million contract. The Knicks reportedly offered a three-year, $13.2 million contract, because Kerr had no coaching experience. New York added a fourth guaranteed season, but the door was already opened for the Warriors, who reportedly gave Kerr a four-year, $22 million contract.
Then, after all that trouble with Jackson’s top candidate, the Knicks wound up giving Derek Fisher – another rookie coach – five years and $25 million.
Again: What happened?
James Dolan happened.
After promising not to meddle anymore, the Knicks owner reportedly submarined Jackson’s attempts to land Kerr.
Why on earth would Dolan open the bank for Jackson yet play hardball with Jackson’s recommendation to become head coach?
The answer most likely has something to do with Kerr having serious reservations about working for Dolan. So much so that Kerr called former and current employees to do a background check on his potential boss. That information got back to Dolan, who was not too thrilled about hiring the broadcasting partner of Marv Albert, one of many sworn enemies of MSG. The low ball offer, Dolan’s presence and a better team in Golden State made Kerr’s decision an easy one.
Albert did speak poorly of Dolan to Kerr, but it’s completely reasonable for a prospective employee (especially one with multiple job offers) to research his potential boss (especially one with a record as poor as Dolan’s). Dolan shouldn’t be so sensitive about this.
And he isn’t always. Jackson made a crack about Dolan’s music (which Dolan might take more seriously than the Knicks) years ago, and Dolan still gave Jackson $60 million to run the Knicks.
Kerr had plenty of reasons to prefer the Warriors – especially their roster and location – but money certainly factored. Apparently thanks to Dolan, the Knicks didn’t offer enough.
As Kerr succeeds in Golden State, Dolan is just proving Albert and all the other detractors correct.