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Derek Fisher hires ‘Kevin Durant’s guy’ Brian Keefe as Knicks assistant

Kevin DurantIf the New York Knicks are looking to make a run at Kevin Durant if and when he becomes a free agent in 2016, they may have taken a step in the right direction with one of their recent hires. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Durant is “very close” with new Knicks assistant coach Brian Keefe.

Keefe, who was hired this week, spent the past seven seasons with the Oklahoma City — five as an assistant coach and two as a developmental coach.

“He’s Durant’s guy,” a league source told Berman.

Durant mentioned last season how Keefe called him out on his body language and attitude, so he obviously has a great deal of respect for the coach. KD also has a close relationship with Fisher, whom he played alongside with the Thunder. Durant was vocal in backing Fisher as a candidate for the Knicks head coaching job and reportedly helped sell Carmelo Anthony on playing for him.

It’s quite possible the Thunder will sign Durant to an extension before he hits free agency, but the stars are certainly aligned for the Knicks to be a top contender for KD’s services should he become a free agent.

Knicks, Mavericks talking Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton for Jose Calderon trade

Tyson ChandlerThe Dallas Mavericks are in talks to reacquire center Tyson Chandler from the New York Knicks as part of what might be a 6-player trade.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reports news of the trade talks, which would see the Knicks send Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavericks. The Knicks would receive Jose Calderon, Sam Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and a second-round pick, according to reports.

Chandler was one of the key players on the Mavs’ championship team in 2011. Though owner Mark Cuban wanted to retain him, the team decided to let him go because of tight financial restrictions. Chandler then signed a 4-year, $60 million deal with the Knicks and has one season remaining on the deal.

Felton had a terrible season with the Knicks and has one year and a player option remaining on his contract. In order to shed the Chandler and Felton contracts, the Knicks would be taking back Calderon, who is set to make over $7 million in 2015-16 and 2016-17 after signing a four-year extension with the Mavs last year.

Carmelo Anthony: Meeting with Phil Jackson was ‘great’

Carmelo Anthony KnicksCarmelo Anthony is expected to test the free agency market next month, but it sounds like re-signing with the New York Knicks may be a consideration.

Anthony was in New York to promote SMS Audio’s Sport Collection of waterproof headphones with 50 Cent, his partner. At the event, he told the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola that his meeting with Phil Jackson last week went great.

“It was a great meeting with Phil. It went well,” he said via the Daily News. “I like what Phil is doing.”

The move he likes is that Jackson hired Derek Fisher as head coach. Maybe Jackson shared his ideas of future plans as well.

I still think Anthony is going to leave the Knicks because they seem far away from winning, but at least they might have a fighting chance if these words are any indication.

Knicks reportedly think Derek Fisher could help them get Kevin Durant

Kevin DurantTeams are dreaming big about the possibility of landing free agents. You have the Lakers who reportedly are delaying their coaching search because they have aspirations of getting someone like LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. You have the Miami Heat who are talking about landing ‘Melo (which actually seems like a realistic possibility). You have Phil Jackson trying to convince ‘Melo to stick with the Knicks so they can build around him.

But this may be the most laughable scenario of all.

In a story about ‘Melo’s potential free agency, ESPN’s Marc Stein throws in one amusing nugget:

The Knicks, sources say, expect to be a contender for Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant when he is projected to become a free agent in July 2016 and believe their chances will be enhanced by the presence of Fisher, one of Durant’s favorite teammates with the Thunder.

OK, maybe I shouldn’t laugh about this. The NBA will look a lot different in two years, so a lot can happen between now and then. But who among us actually believes the Knicks are going to be good and an appealing option for Durant? Maybe having Fisher will get them an extra look, but I just cannot envision Durant going to the Knicks. No way. And while we’re at it, I’d be pretty surprised if Fisher were still the Knicks’ coach after two seasons.

Chest bump to Eye on Basketball

Steve Kerr verbally committed to Knicks before signing with Warriors

Steve KerrSteve Kerr negotiated with Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks for quite a while before he ultimately decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors. According to Jackson, the two actually got beyond the point of negotiations and all the way to a verbal agreement.

A previous report from Marc Berman of the New York Post indicated that Kerr ultimately chose the Warriors after receiving a lowball offer from the Knicks. Jackson offered a different story when speaking to reporters on Friday.

“Unfortunately for him, he committed to me the day before the job opened with Golden State,” Jackson said, per Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. “So I had to kind of release him to actually go to this job and say you have to do what’s right for yourself. I understood entirely the process he was going through to have that job open up. That was something he kind of thought would be a good fit for him. So that’s good, we’re happy for him.”

It seems like Kerr wanted to be closer to his family all along, so I’m more inclined to believe what Jackson said rather than Kerr being insulted by a lowball offer. That said, I wouldn’t doubt that the Warriors and others did warn Kerr about working for someone like James Dolan.

Jackson also admitted that the idea of him coaching the team next season during a “transitional” period has been discussed, but he is not open to it. He confirmed that Derek Fisher is on his list of “very good candidates” for the job.

Knicks reportedly lost Steve Kerr because of lowball offer

Steve KerrSteve Kerr chose to sign a contract with the Golden State Warriors over the New York Knicks for a variety of reasons, one of which was money. We all know Kerr wanted to remain closer to his family on the West Coast, but everything has a price. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks lost out on Kerr thanks in large part to a lowball offer.

Phil Jackson and company reportedly made an initial offer of three years and $13 million to Kerr. The TNT analyst ended up signing a five-year, $22 million deal with the Warriors, and Berman believes the Knicks could have locked Kerr down if they didn’t play hardball from the start.

Had the Knicks originally offered Kerr five years, $22 million — $4.4 million a year — he probably would have closed the deal before Golden State could reenter the fray. Jackson only bumped the offer to four years in response to Golden State’s offer.

A source said Kerr wasn’t moving across the country for less money than the Warriors were offering. The Knicks have insisted Jackson, not owner James Dolan, handled the negotiations.

While the Knicks say Jackson was responsible for negotiating with Kerr, a separate report from the NY Daily News claimed ownership “did not appear to support” Jackson’s pursuit of Kerr. You have to wonder if James Dolan, who is said to have already clashed with Jackson over personnel decisions, would only allow Jackson to offer so much to a first-time head coach.

“When I saw Phil today he looked like a guy who had lost $60 million,” a league executive reportedly told Frank Isola of the NY Daily News. “Last summer he looked refreshed when I saw him. Now he really looks beaten down. He didn’t look good.”

Whatever the reason, the Knicks still don’t have a head coach with two of the best candidates — Kerr and Stan Van Gundy — already having found work.

H/T Eye on Basketball

Report: Scottie Pippen met with Knicks to discuss assistant job

Scottie PippenPhil Jackson seems determined to fill the New York Knicks organization with people who are connected to his inner circle. Could Scottie Pippen be the next name on the list?

Marc Berman of the New York Post is reporting that Pippen met with Knicks general manager Steve Mills for about 15 minutes on Thursday to discuss a possible role with the team. The Knicks could be interested in bringing in Pippen as an assistant coach, depending on who is hired as head coach. Pippen currently serves as an advisor to the Chicago Bulls.

“I haven’t talked to Phil,” Pippen told the Post. “I have to wait until that time comes. Right now nothing’s out there. I’m not going to say whether I’m interested or not until it happens.”

Jackson has turned his attention to plan B after he was turned down by Steve Kerr, and there are reports indicating he is considering a number of former players and associates for New York’s vacant head coaching job. Phil obviously has certain people that he trusts, and it looks like he’s going to lean on one or more of those people to rebuild the Knicks.

Pippen said he was “surprised” that Kerr turned down the Knicks job because of his familiarity with Jackson and his offense. He also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Phil returning as a coach.

“Phil pretty much has a license to do what he wants right now,” Pippen said. “Will he do it? Not sure. It’s going to take some time to see his work, but he’s a guy who can turn it around.”

Stranger things have happened.