Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter
“I think right now he’s totally focused on the Knicks’ situation,” Olson, who coached Kerr at Arizona in the 1980s and spoke to him on Tuesday, told SNY.tv and The Knicks Blog by phone, echoing comments he made to the New York Post.
Still, once Mike D’Antoni resigned from the Lakers, Kerr’s name came up as a possible replacement. Olson said Kerr lives “within 100 miles” of Los Angeles and “there were a lot of comments right away about Steve Kerr” possibly taking the job.
But Olson said Kerr would rather work with Knicks President Phil Jackson, his former coach with the Chicago Bulls, than with any other executive.
“I know Steve is very concerned about who the general manager is and I think with [Lakers GM] Mitch Kupchak, he’s somebody that Steve knows well because Steve was a general manager of the Suns at the same that Mitch was with the Lakers,” Olson said. “But in my opinion Steve would be interested in any job that Phil was involved with. The Lakers thing of course would be close to his home in Rancho Sante Fe, and with the Knicks Steve’s youngest son will be a senior next year in high school so Margot, his wife, would plan on being at home there as Matthew finishes his senior year so the family would be apart for a season.
“I know that’s a concern to Steve but I think he has Margot’s backing on taking the Knicks’ job if he’s offered.”
Kerr and Jackson reportedly met twice last weekend to discuss the job, and it seems only a matter of time before Kerr is officially offered it, if he hasn’t been already. Some reports suggested it could happen after the first round of the NBA playoffs.
“To my knowledge he has not been offered the job but I don’t know,” Olson said, adding that he and Kerr spoke for 45 minutes on Tuesday.
“In my opinion he would like to have the job. And he has discussed it with Phil a couple times but I haven’t spoken with Phil so I have no idea what’s going on from the other end. But Steve is looking at it that he played for Phil with the Bulls and he feels that it would be very helpful to him not having coached before to have someone like Phil to lean on, and he feels very comfortable with Phil, the fact that they had a close working relationship when Steve played for him in Chicago. And I think Phil’s feelings about Steve are really the same as Steve’s feelings about Phil. They enjoyed that relationship and Steve as a new coach feels it would be very beneficial to be able to work under somebody like Phil.”
Olson praised Kerr’s “leadership qualities” and said he “demands hard work and dedication to the job.”
As far as Carmelo Anthony — who dined this week with Jackson at a New York steakhouse to discuss his and the team’s future, potentially including the idea of Melo possibly taking less than max money — Olson said he believes Anthony could “fit in very well to the triangle” offense that Jackson and, presumably, Kerr espouse.
“I think that Carmelo would become the Michael Jordan of the Knicks with that triangle offense,” Olson said. “And Steve knows that offense inside and out, and obviously Phil does as well.”
The Knicks are targeting the summer of 2015 to add free agents, when $52 million in cap space will come off the books. And Olson believes New York would be an attractive landing spot for guys like Rajon Rondo, Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge.
“In addition to Carmelo, I think with players that are going to be restricted or unrestricted players on on other teams, I think that New York would be a very attractive place for them because they know what the triangle offense is all about,” Olson said. “I think they have a great deal of confidence in Phil. I know that their draft choices over the next couple of years are not in very good positions, but I think Phil was hired to bring great basketball back to New York and anything that Phil has set his mind to, he’s been pretty successful in achieving that.”
He added: “I don’t think they’re going to get it done with draft picks, personally. I think they’re going to get it done with restricted or unrestricted players who want to be in New York and want to be a part of something big in terms of rebuilding the franchise.’
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.