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Phil Jackson denies he offered Knicks coaching job to anyone

Phil Jackson

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference in Greenburgh, N.Y., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Derek Fisher was fired as New York Knicks coach Monday, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


It’s that time of the year, when NBA GMs/Presidents like to play The Semantics Game.”

Reports surfaced over the weekend that Phil Jackson had spoken to Luke Walton about the Knicks coaching job, which morphed into speculation (on other sites, not here) that Jackson tentatively offered the job to Walton, and other reports said the Golden State assistant shot that down.

Phil Jackson took to Twitter to put his spin on clarify things Monday:


Did Jackson conduct a formal interview with Walton and formally offer him the job? No. That would be farther down the line. However, a GM’s or President’s first contact with a coach is never that formal. It starts with a call to an agent and some broad discussion of interests; then if the sides are on the same page it will lead to a phone call or quiet lunch/dinner with the coach to discuss things in more detail. Know that not only teams in the midst pf an active coaching search — New York, Minnesota, Washington — but also teams considering a coaching change have taken those steps with potential replacements. It’s just like NBA free agency: There are no formal talks until July 1, but a lot of back-channel groundwork is set in place before that day arrives, including informal talks between people close to the players and interested teams.

You can bet there was some feeling out process between Jackson and Walton at the least, and I suspect they had a casual phone conversation about the job. That may well have included Walton letting Jackson know it’s not likely he takes the gig, but nobody is saying anything definitive yet. It’s a feeling out process.

The buzz around the league is Kurt Rambis remains the front-runner, but how likely it stays that way depends on whom you talk to.