With the news that Phil Jackson will talk to Jerry Stackhouse about a possible coaching position with the New York Knicks it isn't surprising that Jackson will look at other former players to join the staff as well. Jackson is still trying to finalize a deal with Steve Kerr to become the next head coach of the Knicks but he's keeping his eyes on good basketball people for Kerr's staff. Bill Cartwright is a candidate for a coaching position on the Knicks' bench.
Bill Cartwright is 56 years old. However, in 1979 he was the third overall pick of the NBA Draft. What team selected him? The New York Knicks. The 7'1", 245 pound Cartwright played center for the Knicks from 1979-88. He then went on to play for the Chicago Bulls from 1988-94 and the Seattle SuperSonics from 1994-95.
After enjoying retirement for a few years, Cartwright re-joined the Bulls as an assistant coach under Jackson. However, after the 1007-98 season Jackson, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen all left Chicago. Cartwright stuck with the team through the rebuilding period. He was named head coach only 27 games into the 2001-02 season. Cartwright was fired only 14 games into the 2003-04 season.
He continued his coaching career in 2004 when he was hired as an assistant under Lawrence Frank by the New Jersey Nets. In 2008, Cartwright was hired as an assistant coach under Terry Porter by the Phoenix Suns. Who was the man who brought him to the Suns? Then general manager Steve Kerr.
Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News sums up the relationship between Kerr and Cartwright.
“Bill wants to come work for the Knicks,” the source said.
When asked by Daily News Knicks writer Frank Isola on SiriusXM NBA Radio two weeks ago about possibly working for Jackson, Cartwright said: “I’m open, babe.”
Cartwright and Kerr go back a long way. They were in Chicago in the late 1990s, with Cartwright serving under Jackson as an assistant coach, and Kerr playing for the final two Bulls title teams of the late 1990s with Michael Jordan.
When Kerr took over the general manager duties in Phoenix, he hired Cartwright to be on the Suns’ coaching staff.
Cartwright worked for the Suns for four seasons. All told, he has spent 13 seasons as an assistant coach in Chicago, New Jersey and Phoenix.
Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork reports Cartwright has talked to Jackson about joining the Knicks as an assistant coach.
He talked to Jackson about taking a position late last week.
"I’ve been in contact with Phil and hopefully that works out the right way," Cartwright said on SiriusXM NBA Radio. "I’m a big believer. In my life I’m kind of guided to where I’m supposed to be and if I’m supposed to be there, I’ll be there."
Cartwright could make a big impact as a member of Kerr’s staff. Cartwright's head coaching experience could be invaluable. It's likely that Jackson would wants someone with NBA head coaching experience on Kerr’s staff.
Joe Flynn of Bleacher Report believes Cartwright could be a great fit on the coaching staff if Jackson can finalize a deal with Kerr.
If the Knicks do indeed hire Kerr, Cartwright would make an ideal lieutenant. Unlike Kerr, who has never been a head coach at any level, Cartwright has more than two seasons of experience coaching the Bulls from 2001 to 2004. He wasn't successful (lifetime 51-100 record), but he can at least provide Kerr with experienced counsel.
Cartwright is seemingly the perfect assistant coach for New York. Not only does Cartwright have experience with the Knicks, he also a playing and coaching connection to both Jackson and Kerr, knows the triangle offense, has loads of experience on and off the court and has worked with Amare Stoudemire in the past.
With or without hiring Kerr, Cartwright would be a very good hire as an assistant for the Knicks moving forward. However, if Jackson is able to finally get Kerr under contract Cartwright could become his second in charge and a voice of reason and poise when things get sideways as a rookie head coach.