Jeff Van Gundy has been told he is wanted back as the Knicks' coach next year, and he says there is no other place he would rather coach.

Van Gundy's job was believed to be in jeopardy when the Knicks nearly failed to make the playoffs, but they went on a roll and became the first eighth-seeded team to advance to the NBA Finals.

Van Gundy said he has never entertained the idea of coaching anywhere else, but he will meet with Knicks President Dave Checketts to discuss a few issues before making a decision.

O'NEAL HAPPY: Pleased by the hiring of Phil Jackson as coach, Lakers C Shaquille O'Neal decided not to exercise a clause that could have made him a free agent. O'Neal has four years and $81.47 million remaining on the original seven-year deal he signed with the Lakers in 1996 and cannot opt out again. If he had opted out, O'Neal could have negotiated to sign a new seven-year deal with the Lakers that could have been worth more than $150 million, but would have meant less money over the short term because of the new labor deal.

CASEY STAYS PUT: The Nets announced that veteran assistant coach Don Casey, who took over as interim coach this season when John Calipari was fired in March, will become the team's head coach.

MOVES: Sonics F Vin Baker has opted to become a free agent. . . . The Magic waived veteran G-F Gerald Wilkins.