Phil Jackson: Kurt Rambis ‘perfectly capable’ of coaching Knicks permanently

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When he made Kurt Rambis the Knicks’ interim coach, Phil Jackson reportedly wanted Rambis to assume the permanent job.

Kurt Rambis, who went 32-132 with the Timberwolves? That Kurt Rambis?

Jackson, via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

“I think he’s perfectly capable of doing that,” Jackson said when asked if he wants Rambis to be coaching the Knicks. “We’ve talked many times over the past four or five years about the obvious record that is created behind his coaching in Minnesota and that puts a black mark on his coaching ability at first glance.

“But he has a way of handling players. He’s relaxed yet he has the ability to keep them focused on the important parts of it. He’s a defensive-oriented guy. I had him as my defensive coordinator for my teams in 2007, eight and nine. And I think he has a real good handle on that part. So we’ll see how they go.”

The question shouldn’t be whether or not Rambis is “perfectly capable.” (He’s probably not.) The issue should be whether or not Rambis is most capable.

The Knicks are paying Jackson $12 million per year. They just gave Derek Fisher a five-year, $25 million contract (though that reportedly wasn’t fully guaranteed).

New York has the resources to lure a top-notch coach.

Beyond salary – which matters a great deal – the Knicks offer a chance to coach Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony. They’ve also shown a willingness to pay the luxury tax.

Jackson shouldn’t squander this opportunity on Rambis, who struggled in Minnesota and has underwhelmed in this interim stint with New York. Jackson also shouldn’t limit candidates to his cronies. Use James Dolan’s money to land the best coach available, not necessarily the best triangle coach available.

At best, Jackson is just saying kind words about a friend he hoped would seize an opportunity but didn’t. Talk up Rambis on his way out the door or back down the bench. Simultaneously, lower expectations so Knicks fans will appreciate the real coaching choice.

At worst, Jackson is paving the road for eventually hiring Rambis – maybe even as a co-coach.