Derek Fisher's coaching staff is beginning to take shape. He's hired Kurt Rambis as his right-hand-man and second in charge. He also hired former Los Angeles Lakers assistant Rasheed Hazzard and former Okalahoma City Thunder assistant Joshua Longstaff. Now he's hired another Thunder assistant to help hill out the New York Knicks coaching staff.
Former Oklahoma City assistant Brian Keefe is the second coach Derek Fisher has hired off his former teams coaching staff. Keefe will join Joshua Longstaff as former members of the Thunder to follow Fisher to Madison Square Garden and work for New York Knicks.
Source says Fisher will hire away another OKC assistant, will add Brian Keefe. Been with OKC 7 years, last 5 as assistant.— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) July 13, 2014
Fisher seems to have all the makings of a quality head coach. However, being that this is his first head coaching job he'll certainly have his work cut out for him. Surround him with a solid supporting cast is one of the best ways to help him succeed. He needs people who are smart and that he can trust. That's why he added Keefe to his coaching staff.
Keefe has been with the Thunder for seven seasons – five as an assistant, working under Scott Brooks. During his first two years with Oklahoma City, Keefe served as a player development coach.
Keefe played his first two seasons of college basketball at UC Irvine before transferring to UNLV for his final two seasons. He then started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at an NCAA Division I school in Tampa, Florida called the University of South Florida where he was from 2000-2001.
Keefe was then hired by Division II school Bryant University in Rhode Island where he was an assistant coach from 2001-05. He then made the leap to the NBA as a video coordinator for the San Antonio Spurs for two seasons.
Keefe was hired as a player development assistant by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2007, when the team was still the Seattle SuperSonics. After the departure of Thunder assistant Ron Adams, Keefe was given defensive assistant coaching duties. He was promoted to Scott Brooks’ top assistant last season, replacing Mo Cheeks who was hired and then fired by the Detroit Pistons.
He also gained experience coaching the Thunder's summer league squad in 2010. Keefe was known for his close relationship with Kevin Durant and for his work with the Oklahoma City wing players.
David Aldridge of NBA.com reports Keefe was one of the assistants who could really get through to players.
"That was probably one of the most realest conversations I've had with a coach, ever," Durant recalled last week. "He let me know how bad I was — my body language, my attitude. I just decided to look at myself and self-evaluate. And he was right. I had to change how I was thinking, how I was acting toward my teammates. Everything."
Keefe is not the Thunder's coach … that's Scott Brooks, of course. He isn't an assistant coach with two decades of NBA bench experience — that's Rex Kalamian. He isn't an assistant coach with NBA playing experience, with whom Durant could easily relate — that's Mark Bryant and Robert Pack. Yet Keefe, the assistant coach whose previous coaching experience came at South Florida and Division II Bryant University, can get in Kevin Durant's face and say "not good enough."
And Durant listens.
Now that Keefe's joined Fisher in New York this could be the final hiring for the coaching staff. However, former Phil Jackson assistant Frank Hamblen and current Milwaukee Bucks assistant Jim Cleamons are still considered strong candidates to join the Knicks staff.
That being said, neither have been hired as of yet. Until other moves are made, Fisher's staff now consists of Rambis, Hazzard, Longstaff and Keefe. Outside of Rambis, it's a young staff. It's an interesting choice for a first-time coach. Most organizations decide to surround young head coaches with veteran staffs.
The Knicks have instead brought in a staff that can grow alongside Fisher. That being said, most organizations don't have someone like Jackson around to rely on and learn from. Rambis is another person Fisher can look to for guidance. However, no one should be surprised if one of those veteran coaches are brought in just to give Fisher another pool of knowledge to pull from.
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