Derek Fisher is right pick for Knicks


Derek Fisher may be Phil Jackson's second choice. But he very well could be the best fit for the New York Knicks and potentially even better than Steve Kerr.

Jackson was always going to hire his first coach from his triangle tree. His two biggest stars in waiting are Kerr and Fisher.

Kerr is considered as bright as they come, and obviously is close to Jackson and won titles with the former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach. He is charismatic and could end up being a terrific head man for the Golden State Warriors.

But Fisher ultimately might be the better coach for New York and what Jackson needs to ignite his plan. This is Jackson's first big move toward turning around the organization and putting his stamp on the rebuilding process. And Fisher knows what Phil wants and needs perhaps as well as any of the Zen Master's disciples.

Fisher has never coached before. But like most valued point guards, he was like an extension of his head coach on the floor. Fisher has experienced countless Jackson huddles and seen how the sport's winningest coach handled numerous pressure-packed situations.

As far as pressure, Fisher has shown that he doesn't crack. He hit numerous big shots throughout his career and was always one of Jackson's most trusted role players.

Fisher is a leader who has won five championships playing for Jackson in the triangle. So he understands how to lead a group and how to win, especially -- and more importantly -- with the intricate system Jackson wants to employ.

Can Fisher handle drama? MSG drama can chew up and spit out even Hall of Fame coaches, which also may have scared away Kerr a bit. Fisher, though, has lived through one of the biggest soap operas in NBA history as a teammate of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. He understands the dynamics of relationships and how important chemistry is, whether it's playing alongside Shaq and Kobe or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Phil needs somebody to execute his vision. He needs someone who will spread the Jackson culture throughout the Knicks. Hopefully, Jackson will groom Fisher the way Pat Riley has mentored Erik Spoelstra in Miami. He will do everything he can to put Fisher in a position to succeed.

Fisher may never have coached before, but he has basically had hands-on training from Jackson. And there's no reason why Fish can't do what Doc Rivers, Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd have done.

Fisher may not have been the playmaker or had the Hall of Fame vision Kidd had as a player. But he does have something that proved to be critical for Kidd during his rookie season in Brooklyn -- the respect of other players.

When the Nets got off to their tumultuous start, the admiration Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce had for Kidd helped keep the team from unraveling, and eventually allowed Kidd to get comfortable and steer the Nets on the right course.

We will have to wait and see how Carmelo Anthony feels about Fisher, and if that will help keep him in a Knicks uniform next season. But Phil pitching Fisher to Melo as coach certainly is better than what might've been the alternative if Fisher had said no.

The Knicks and Jackson spent a lot of money to secure Fisher. The risk, however, is no greater than if Jackson had landed Kerr. Now they have to surround their new coach with the necessary pieces to succeed. First, Fisher will have to build a solid coaching staff. This could include more Phil disciples such as Kurt Rambis, Bill Cartwright, Frank Hamblen, Luke Walton and maybe Rick Fox.

And then Jackson will have to get Fisher the players he needs. This is going to be the biggest challenge in Jackson's tenure as Knicks president.

But his first major move -- hiring a coach -- is a sound one. Phil wanted somebody from his triangle circle and was never going to go after a Jeff Van Gundy or Mark "Action" Jackson.

His first choice was Kerr, who got away. But in the end, Jackson reeled in a potentially better Fish.

Plan B just might be exactly what Jackson's Knicks turnaround plan needs.