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Who will replace Mike Woodson? We give our 5 picks

Metro breaks down the Top 5 candidates to take the reins as the next Knicks head coach.

Steve Kerr Steve Kerr has worked as a broadcaster and GM since retiring from the league.
Credit: Getty Images

The Knicks, unsurprisingly, fired head coach Mike Woodson on Monday after drawing out his anticipation for a week.

You could argue the move actually started in December when owner James Dolan approached Phil Jackson about replacing Woodson. He passed, but of course took over as president and will play the biggest role in hiring Woodson's successor. Everyone expects a Jackson disciple — whether a former assistant or former player — to take over in 2014-15.

Metro breaks down the Top 5 candidates to take the reins.


1. Steve Kerr

Kerr, who won three NBA championships playing for Jackson in Chicago, seems to be the most-talked-about choice to become the Knicks' next head coach. He has no coaching experience, but apparently that's not a hinderance. In fact, the lack of experience is the newest trend in coaching. Jason Kidd took over the Nets just weeks after retiring as a player. He led the Nets to the playoffs in his first season. Mark Jackson took much the same path as Kerr would — from the broadcast booth to the bench — when he became head coach of the Warriors in 2011. He has Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and crew positioned as one of the elite teams in the Western Conference. There's no question Kerr is smart and knows the game, though his brief tenure as Suns general manager was a failure.

2. Brian Shaw

It's tough to bail on a team after one season, but Shaw is a prime Jackson target. The 48-year-old former guard took over as head coach of the Nuggets last season. The Nuggets were just 36-46 in his first season, but they dealt with major injuries and were not expected to be a top contender anyway. He was an assistant under Jackson with Los Angeles from 2005 to 2011.

3. Kurt Rambis

If Shaw is the youngest, sexiest choice as a former Jackson assistant with head coaching experience, Rambis is the tired retread. He was head coach in Minnesota for two incredibly bad seasons (32-132), but to be fair, the T'Wolves' roster stunk. Rambis had some success in the shortened 1999 season as Lakers head coach, making the playoffs with a 24-13 record. Rambis was Jackson's lead assistant with the Lakers in two stints from 2001-04 and 2005-2011. As far as choices go, Rambis seems like the conservative candidate. And no, he doesn't have the glasses anymore. Big strike against him.

4. Derek Fisher

First, Fisher will have to retire as a player. But if he does, as he's claimed he will once the Thunder are bounced from the playoffs, he could quickly follow the Kidd path. There are very few players in the history of the NBA as savvy as Fisher. The 39-year-old point guard won five NBA titles — all with Jackson and the Lakers. And he served as players' union president, so you know he has the respect of players. In fact, Kobe Bryant has called Fisher his favorite teammate ever. It's hard to get a bigger endorsement than that. But still, if you're going to go with a player with no coaching experience, it seems like Kerr would be a slightly safer choice.

5. Jim Cleamons

If Fisher is the exciting dark horse, Cleamons is the boring dark horse. Cleamons certainly has an impressive resume as an assistant in the league, coaching alongside Jackson with the Lakers from 1999-2004 and 2006-2011. Cleamons is an Xs and Os, system-oriented coach. He's not a rah-rah motivator like Fisher would likely be. Cleamons has deep ties to the Lakers, who drafted him as a player in 1971 and where he won a title in 1972, but he is the only person on this list with ties to the Knicks too. He spent two seasons as a player here from 1977-79. But with Jackson worried about retaining Carmelo Anthony, Cleamons is not the coach to make Anthony excited about returning even if he's the best choice from a pure in-game coaching standpoint.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.

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