Knicks Reel in Fish

By Randy Renner

Last week when Derek Fisher spoke to reporters in Oklahoma City during his exit interview he seemed to leave the door open just a crack for a return to the Thunder next season.

Just in case things fell through with the New York Knicks or various other business opportunities or just in case he changed his mind about hanging up his uniform for good.

And for their part, the Thunder made it clear they would welcome him back.

Well turns out D-Fish will be back inside Chesapeake Energy Arena next season but just for one game and he'll return as head coach of the New York Knicks.

The official announcement is being made today in the Big Apple and reports indicate Fisher's first head coaching contract is a dandy, five years for $25 million.

Fisher made less in his three seasons playing for the Thunder than he'll make in one as coach of the Knicks. He'll also make more than his head coach for those last three seasons. Scott Brooks is believed to make about $4.5 million coaching the Thunder and when he signed that deal a couple of years ago it put him in the coaching tall cotton, only a handful of coaches made more money and all were established big names.

But New York is a big market with big bucks to throw around and Fisher became the ideal candidate for several reasons.

First there's no question he knows the game, at times he was a coach on the floor for the Thunder and during practice sessions Fisher would often pull players aside for talks about strategy and just life in general.

He's also great with the media. He's been very giving of his time while here in Oklahoma City to answer questions and always gives tremendously thoughtful answers. He's had to put up with reporters in a big media market (Los Angeles) and it never seemed to bother him.

Of course being a head coach in New York will be a bit different but Fish should have no problem winning the media over.

He also has a great relationship with his boss who is also his former coach with the Lakers, Phil Jackson. Phil has made it clear he wants to be hands-on, might even drop by practice sessions and exchange ideas and advice.

Veteran head coaches might not be able to deal with that. Jackson of course has more NBA Championship rings than fingers to put them on, so you're gonna need someone special to be the head coach with Jackson there looking over that person's shoulder all the time.

The interesting thing about this is how it could possibly impact the Thunder.

If the Thunder and Reggie Jackson can't come to an agreement on an extension and Jackson becomes a restricted free agent the Knicks just might be a team that would come after him. A few others certainly would to but the Knicks will be the only team whose head coach played on the same team as Jackson and knows him as well as anyone.

Personal relationships can play big roles in these situations so that will be one to watch about a year from now if Jackson hasn't already inked a new deal with his current employer.