Keith SchlosserIt’s only a matter of time before Phil Jackson begins to put his own stamp on the Knicks in hopes of leading them back to greatness. With that in mind, everyone is awaiting his first major move, which, presumedly, will be filling New York’s head coaching vacancy.
There are a handful of candidates out there, many of whom happen to be included in Jackson’s core group of confidants or past players.
“The only thing a guy like me is doing, is waiting for Phil and his group, to make a decision” Bill Cartwright, a former Bulls and Knicks big man who went on to win three NBA championships in Chicago, recently told The Knicks Blog and SNY.tv. “We know each other really well and we understand Phil has a big task. It’s an exciting task. So we’re just waiting to see what happens.”
Dating back to Steve Kerr’s initial candidacy for the Knicks’ head coaching position, there’s been speculation that Cartwright could be brought in as an assistant (New York Daily News, April 29).
Still, should Jackson and the Knicks ultimately decide they want someone with a bit more experience at the helm, Cartwright could be their man. In addition to winning titles as a player, Cartwright has served in different coaching capacities over the last decade plus, both in the NBA and overseas. What’s more, he also coached Amar’e Stoudemire while the two were together with the Phoenix Suns.
Given his time, experience, and past success in The Association, one could argue that Cartwright is also qualified to lead a team once again as well. Such a sentiment is one he seems to agree with.
“I’ve been around the league for thirty years. I’m familiar with different styles of play and how to build a team. I’ve been a head coach and an assistant,” Cartwright said. “I’ve been exposed to different coaching styles, from Red Holzman, to Hubie Brown, Rick Pitino, Doug Collins, George Karl, in addition to Phil. I would say I know the league and its players really well. We all know the Knicks represent New York, so there’s a certain style of play that goes there. It goes back to the days when they were winning championships.”
By now, it’s well understood that Jackson wants to bring those who have previous experience with the triangle offense into his Big Apple fold to help the Knicks. Having said that, however, Cartwright asserts that the success of his former coach’s teams could be attributed to much more than just the triangle.
“I don’t get so enamored in the triangle offense. Basketball wise, it has a name. I think that’s why people are so enamored with it,” he added. “The big thing about Phil’s teams, including our Bulls and his Lakers’ teams, was that we played hard. Those teams played good defense. Whatever your system is offensively, whether it’s the triangle or whatever, it’s has to be solid. It has to have pressure releases. Players have to understand what they need to do in certain situations to be successful. That, to me, is more important than anything else.”
For now, Cartwright, like everyone else, will await Jackson’s next move.