Should Phil Jackson hire Steve Kerr to coach the Knicks?


(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

New York Knicks Coach Mike Woodson and his staff have seen the lights go out on Broadway.

And with that, it looks like we may already know the name of the new headliner in town: Steve Kerr.

Kerr’s  résumé appears strong:

  • Successful collegiate career at Arizona, including the 1987-88 NCAA AP all-America award
  • 15 years in the NBA, playing under current Knicks President Phil Jackson and Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich.
  • Five championship rings. Three with the Chicago Bulls (1996, 1997, 1998) and two with the San Antonio Spurs (1999, 2003)
  • All-time leading three-point shooter, hitting 45.4 percent from beyond the arc
  • General manager of the Phoenix Suns (2007-10)

Despite having no coaching experience, it is becoming more common in the NBA to hire former players without time on the sideline, and there have been some good results. Jason Kidd, who also had no previous coaching experience, led the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs in his first season. Mark Jackson went from the broadcast booth to the sidelines for Golden State, where the Warriors have made two straight playoff appearances. Doc Rivers also had a smooth transition from analyst to coaching.

But here is the thing: only one of them won a championship as a player: Jason Kidd with the Dallas Mavericks  in 2011.  Other than that, nada.

There have been three coaches who won four or more championships as a player: Michael Cooper, Don Nelson and Kurt Rambis.

Don Nelson had a tremendous amount of success, coaching for 31 seasons, winning three coach of the year awards and induction into the Hall of Fame. Michael Cooper, however, had one 4-10 season in 2005 and Kurt Rambis coached three seasons compiling a 56-145 record.

Even Toni Kukoc, Kerr’s former teammate on the Chicago Bulls, has some concerns:

“I know Steve Kerr well and his basketball IQ is really high. He knows everything about basketball. I am just concerned about his willingness to be a coach, travel, spend that time in the hotels, the locker rooms, the games. I don’t know if he’s ready to do that.”

Ready or not, sounds like Steve Kerr is ready to jump at the chance.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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Neil Greenberg · April 21

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