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Report: Knicks increasing efforts to hire Derek Fisher as next head coach

Derek FisherDerek Fisher is reported to be the Knicks' top target after missing out on Steve Kerr. (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

After being spurned by Steve Kerr, the Knicks are reportedly planning to "ramp up" their efforts to hire Derek Fisher as their next head coach.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Phil Jackson and the Knicks are focused on hiring the 18-year veteran and are hoping to reach a deal with the longtime point guard by the end of the week. From Stein:

One source close to the talks said Monday that "things could take shape quickly in the early part of the week." The Knicks, though, are approaching this serious stage of talks with a hint of trepidation after the seemingly inevitable hiring of Kerr unraveled.

"Everyone felt that Kerr was a done deal too," another source cautioned. "Only Phil knows."

New York has reportedly held interest in Fisher as a coaching candidate for months, in large part due to his nine seasons under Jackson as a player. Not only would their friendship help to smooth over relations between the Knicks' coaching staff and front office, but Fisher's familiarity with the triangle offense could help in the potential installation of that system. Jackson even went as far as to discuss the possibility of Fisher coaching the team publicly, for which he was tagged witha $25,000 tampering fine.

“The last two summers, Derek and I have talked about the next step in his career,” Jackson said during a press conference last week. “So I kind of know what he wants to do, and his feelings. He’s got family in L.A. He’s got little kids still in L.A. I have no idea if he wants to move his family and come here. Those are things that he would have to express. There are so many unknowns.”

The main concern in the Knicks' pursuit of Fisher, according to Stein, is the possibility that the current Oklahoma City Thunder guard (and impending free agent) will continue his playing career. Fisher played a pivotal bench role for the Thunder this season, who fell in six games to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.

"There's for sure huge layers added to [this decision]," Fisher said in his exit interview, per ESPN.com. "The personal relationship and professional relationship that I've had with Phil Jackson over the years, and being in the position that he's in. And also, with the Lakers having an opening, it for sure adds layers to it. But like other important decisions in life, I don't think you can be driven by what's going on externally. You have to have an internal set of boundaries and just kind of a compass that you make decisions by. I'll combine all those things as I try and make the best decision possible."

Despite registering some initial interest in Fisher, the Lakers have since reportedly decided to remove the point guard from their coaching search and focus on more experienced candidates. Fisher would be a complete newcomer to the coaching scene, though the same was true of Nets head coach Jason Kidd -- a similarly tenured point guard who took Brooklyn to the second round of the 2014 playoffs in the season immediately following his retirement.

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