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New York Knicks: Is Brian Shaw a Realistic Option As Head Coach?


Phil Jackson has first-year head coach Brian Shaw at the top of his list of preferred candidates to take over the New York Knicks, after Steve Kerr opted to head out west to become the next head coach of the Golden State Warriors.

Mac Berman of the New York Post wrote that while Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher is still an option to take over the vacant position left by Mike Woodson, Shaw is still the frontrunner.

According to a source, Jackson, the Knicks president, prefers Shaw over Fisher, but the Nuggets would require the Knicks to pay compensation. That appears to be a bigger roadblock to getting Shaw out of his Denver contract than Shaw’s reluctance to come to New York. It’s unclear whether Jackson has formally asked the Nuggets for permission to speak to Shaw.

The source said Jackson hasn’t totally given up hope he somehow can pry Shaw from Denver, especially if the Fisher scenario falls through.

Even though it sounds intriguing for a rookie coach to be in the national spotlight at Madison Square Garden, Shaw has expressed contentment with his current head coach position with the Denver Nuggets.

“Brian has said publicly – and privately to us – that his desire is to be here, and we feel strongly about him as our coach,” Nuggets president Josh Kroenke told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. “I don’t foresee a scenario or circumstance where he’s going to be anywhere but with the Nuggets next season.”

The recent struggle of landing a new head coach was something that Jackson wasn’t expecting when he accepted the role as the Knicks’ president of basketball operations last March. If bringing in Shaw is the Zen Master’s number one priority, a few things will have to occur to make that happen.

The Knicks will have to offer the right amount of money to Shaw. Part of the reason why Kerr didn’t accept the head coaching job in Manhattan was because he was only offered a three-year deal worth $13 million, compared to Golden State’s offer of five years and $22 million. Jackson will also have to promise that Shaw will be walking into an environment with an established roster and the expectation of winning an NBA title as early as next year. Carmelo Anthony‘s decision of whether or not to stay in New York could be a major factor in Shaw’s decision, as well as the guarantee that players like Andrea Bargnani and J.R. Smith can bounce back from a disappointing regular season performance.

Being that only draft picks and cash can be used to trade for a franchise head coach, the Knicks may need to give up a lot more to meet the Nuggets demands. New York does not have a movable draft pick until 2018, which would negatively effect the Knicks’ process of improving from the draft for the next five or more years.

If  the Knicks fail to bring in the 48-year old Shaw for next season, Jackson could look into hiring Tyronn Lue, who’s currently an assistant coach under Doc Rivers for the Los Angeles Clippers. The NBA veteran played for Jackson during his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers where he helped clinch two championships. While there are experienced head coaches on the market in Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons, Berman considers Lue to be a “dark horse.”

Lue has played for Jeff and Stan Van Gundy, Rivers, Jackson, Scott Skiles and even Mike Woodson in a journeyman career, in which he played for seven teams in 10 NBA seasons.

But what could help Lue’s candidacy most is that he’s a friend of Carmelo Anthony, having met him through former Nuggets and Knicks teammate Chauncey Billups, who is best friends with Lue.

Lue has either coached or played with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. With the Lakers, Lue played in a backcourt with Bryant, Fisher, Shaw and Ron Harper.

In comparison to Shaw and Fisher, Lue would be able to come in and effectively run the triangle offense to Jackson’s liking. Lue would also be a perfect candidate for Jackson to help mentor and teach him the ropes on how to lead a team with aspirations of winning the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Zach Libby covers the New York Knicks for Hoops Habit. Follow him on Twitter @ZachLibbyNBA

Tags: Brian Shaw New York Knicks Tyronn Lue