Prior to signing a five-year, $25 million agreement to coach the Warriors, Steve Kerr made a verbal commitment to become the next coach of the Knicks, according to team president Phil Jackson (via Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal).
Both franchises had been openly courting Kerr prior to his decision. In order to entice him, New York reportedly extended what had previously been a three-year offer (with a team option in the fourth year) to a prospective four-year deal. Whether Kerr committed to the Knicks at that point is unclear, though there was enough of an agreement in place that Jackson told forward Carmelo Anthony that Kerr would be the team's next head coach, per Herring.
When asked why he believed Kerr opted for the Warriors over the Knicks, Jackson posited that the location of the team and quality of its roster were a better fit for Kerr. He's not wrong.
Kerr, who has no practical coaching experience, was coveted by the Knicks in part due to his relationship with Jackson and his familiarity with the triangle offense that Jackson helped to make famous. Most of those other candidates rumored to be under consideration to fill New York's coaching vacancy -- Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw, Thunder guard Derek Fisher -- fall along similar lines. When asked whether he would be willing to venture outside of his circle to find a new head coach, Jackson responded simply: "I have a big circle." If that weren't plain enough, Jackson noted that he would like to have a previous relationship with the team's next head coach, according to Ian Begley of ESPN New York.
Jackson also said that while it has been suggested that he coach the Knicks for a season while mentoring a younger assistant, the idea "doesn't sit right" with him. The biggest obstacle to Jackson's return to the bench remains his health, which he cited specifically in speaking with the New York media on Friday.
"I'm always interested in coaching," Jackson said. "It's whether I can do it [physically]."