After leading the Golden State Warriors to a 39-4 record – the second-best start in league history – Luke Walton, 36, is perhaps the most coveted head-coaching commodity in the NBA. He is reportedly in the mix for the Knicks’ head-coaching gig, but New York, which has gone 86-160 (.350) over the last three seasons, isn’t exactly the most ideal landing spot.
Yes, Walton won two NBA titles with the Lakers under Phil Jackson, but should he go to New York and coach for, well, his former coach?
“No, I think I wait for a better opportunity,” former NBA player and current NBA-TV analyst Leo Rautins said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “New York just hasn’t shown that they can clean up their upper-management situation. You pay $60 million to bring in Phil Jackson. Look, if I’m a player, I might come to play for Phil Jackson, but I’m not going there to play for a team that he is supposedly trying to turn around and manage when you still have James Dolan and all his interference that he’s running.”
Indeed, it seems Dolan cannot get out of his own way in New York. Rautins contrasted that scenario with that in Detroit, which named Stan Van Gundy head coach and president of basketball operations in May 2014.
“In Detroit, they gave him the reins,” Rautins said. “They let him run the club and they let him coach, and look what’s happened in a short period of time in Detroit.”
The Pistons went 32-50 in Van Gundy’s first year – their best record since 2008-09 – before going 44-38 and making the playoffs this year. They also almost beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Sunday, eventually falling in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, 106-101.
“Why can’t New York do that?” Rautins asked. “Because they continue to make the wrong decisions. It’s just too muddled at the top to move forward the way they need to move. So if I’m Luke Walton, I’m waiting for a better situation.”