Mar 18, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks new president of basketball of operations Phil Jackson is introduced at a press conference at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

Phil Jackson Passes First Test as President

Phil Jackson passed his first major test as President by NOT overpaying Steve Kerr.  Facts are only Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat has lasted longer than five years in the Eastern Conference of the NBA.  Phil could have easily caved in and given his friend Kerr 5 years, but would he have earned the respect of Carmelo Anthony if he did?
The New York Post reported that Jackson’s initial offer to Kerr was a lowball of three years, $13.2 million. For a coach with no NBA experience, this was more than a fair offer.  The key for any new President is to earn respect and loyalty.  The New York media, rather than applauding Jackson for not overpaying his disciple, have done nothing but criticize him for losing Kerr.   Kerr wound up agreeing to terms with Golden State on a five-year, $22 million contract — with bonuses it is worth $25 million.

Nov. 26, 2012; Brooklyn, NY, USA; TNT broadcaster and former NBA player Steve Kerr before the game between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks at Barclays Center. Nets won in overtime 96-89. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

This is New York, world champion coach Larry Brown made it one year.  Supposed offensive genius Mike D’Antoni could not make three years.  Mike Woodson did not make four years and he won over 50 games a season ago.  Mark Jackson who Kerr is succeeding only lasted three years in Golden State and he won 51 games this season and improved his record in each of his three years. Jackson’s original contract was a four-year, $8 million dollar deal. So Kerr’s contract is almost three times Jackson’s.

The Nets under new coach Jason Kidd struggled this year and there were rumors early on he might not make it through the season. Kerr replaces Mark Jackson, who signed his first coaching contract with the Warriors in 2011.  Combined, Jackson and Kidd can’t match Kerr’s deal.

Jason Kidd retired as a player in 2013 and was quickly hired as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Kidd signed a four-year, $10.5 million dollar deal which now looks miniscule in comparison with Kerr’s.  Kerr brings GM experience to the table, of course, and Phil Jackson’s interest in bringing Kerr to the Knicks surely drove up his value. Still, Phil Jackson stood his ground by not overpaying the rookie and the New York media has crucified, not applauded him.

Now look at coaches like Doc Rivers, who in my opinion is one of the top coaches in the league. Doc Rivers  left the Celtics in 2013 to coach the Clippers on a three-year deal rumored to pay him only $21 million a year, or less than Kerr. 

New coaches with no pedigree just don’t deserve that pay scale.  The Kings’ Mike Malone signed a 3 year contract, with a one-year option worth around $9 million in 2013. That same summer, the Grizzlies gave Dave Joerger a 4 year contract paying him approximately $2 million per season.  The Charlotte Hornets ( formerly Bobcats)  gave Steve Clifford a 2 year contract with an option for a third) at $2 million per year. Kerr has raised the bar for salaries for all coaches and he has yet to win one game.

Phil Jackson showed strength and courage by not overpaying Kerr.  Kerr May one day be a good coach, but until you show you can win in the NBA, YOU DO NOT DESERVE a 5 year contract.  Now Phil Jackson can turn this around and hire Mark Jackson, a native New Yorker who would love to show Golden State they made a mistake.

Phil, you did the right thing, I applaud you for your business savvy and leadership.  Now let’s make the next move, a move New York will embrace.  That move would be the hiring of Mark Jackson.

Dr. Eric Kaplan is a Bestselling Author

Follow him on Twitter @ drekaplan

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