Sources have indicated that Phil Jackson, president of the New York Knicks, is planning to connect with Derek Fisher by week’s end, giving the OK Thunder guard some time to decompress after his team was eliminated by San Antonio Saturday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
One source cautioned that the discussion shouldn’t be classified as a formal interview, given the long and close working relationship between Jackson and Fisher during their two stints together as coach and player with the Lakers. But another source close to the process said that he thinks Fisher will ultimately find the allure of coaching in New York under Jackson too difficult to pass up.
Jackson was fined $25,000
by the NBA for tampering with Fisher in the form of openly discussing the prospect of hiring his former player during a news conference last week.
Fisher said Sunday he remains undecided about retirement, but sources say Jackson continues to hold out hope he can persuade the 39-year-old to make the immediate jump to coaching — as Jason Kidd did last season with Brooklyn — after Fisher’s 18 seasons as a player.
“I’m still struggling with the results of [the series],” Fisher told local reporters Sunday. “I haven’t [had] a chance to talk to my wife and kind of step back emotionally from the end of the season. That’s important to do, so that whatever is next, there has to be a separation from the end of the season and what just happened and then I can go from there.”
Since Jackson agreed to take over as Knicks president in March, sources say he has always intended to hire a young coach he could mentor. Kerr was unquestionably his top choice, with Jackson going so far as to reveal during Friday’s news conference that he had a verbal commitment from Kerr before Golden State swooped in. But the idea was always to hire someone he’s worked with in the past who would also welcome Jackson’s on-the-floor presence at training camp and practices, thus allowing the 68-year-old to have more of an impact than he might have if restricted to a front-office role.