Sam SpiegelmanSanta Claus isn’t coming to town. Instead, it’s Phil Jackson.
With the 11-time NBA championship coach to set to become the New York Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations, Mike Woodson’s time on the sidelines is likely nearing an end.
Jackson will likely have a say as to who the next coach of the team is, and one name that has surfaced in recent days in Milwaukee Bucks assistant Jim Cleamons.
According to the New York Post, Cleamons — a member of Jackson’s coaching staff in both Chicago and Los Angeles — is a candidate to either be head coach or an assistant. Cleamons knows the Triange offense and may be the most qualified coach to teach it. Here’s what he told the Post prior to Saturday’s win over the Bucks:
Cleamons was leery of speaking at length about Jackson since he already has been linked to the Knicks. Cleamons played two seasons for legendary Knicks coach Red Holzman as a point guard from 1977-79 and was Jackson’s teammate.
“Phil is bright. He understands the game. He’s going to put good people around him,’’ Cleamons said. “That’s my feeling. I know nothing else.’’ …
“I know the offense, but I don’t know what his plans are,’’ Cleamons said of Jackson trying to hire a coach who runs the Triangle. “I’m worried about the Milwaukee Bucks. You have to ask Phil that question.’’
Cleamons was also included on ESPN’s “short list” of potential coaches. According to insider Amin Elhassan, Bill Cartwright, Steve Kerr, Kurt Rambis and Brian Shaw are all candidates for the job.
Cartwright, too, has coached the Triangle offense and won three championships playing in it with the Bulls. However, he boasts a 51-100 career head coaching record.
Kerr has a track record of success in the front office, but he’s never been a coach. Being a first-time coach in New York could spell trouble.
Rambis has been an assistant twice with Los Angeles, but his 31-132 record is a tough thing to overlook.
Shaw played and coached in the Triangle under Jackson, and he thrived while coaching in Indiana. He’s currently at the helm of the Nuggets, but could Jackson pry him out of Denver? Is his 27-35 record good enough?