As the Los Angeles Lakers remain cool on the pursuit of Derek Fisher as a coaching candidate, the New York Knicks continue to cement themselves as the strong frontrunner to hire him, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
So far, the Lakers have expressed an exclusive desire to explore experienced head coaches in their search, and there isn't yet an indication that team officials plan to seriously consider Fisher for the job, league sources said.
Los Angeles has so far interviewed four coaches about replacing Mike D'Antoni – Mike Dunleavy, Kurt Rambis, Byron Scott and Lionel Hollins.
Knicks president Phil Jackson has been eager to sell Fisher, 39, on the possibility of Jackson mentoring him as part of a direct move from Fisher's playing career into the Knicks head coaching job. Fisher is taking a few days to finalize his thoughts on the likely end of his 18-year playing career before fully engaging in talks to become a head coach.
The NBA fined Jackson $25,000 on Monday for tampering after Jackson publicly said Fisher was a candidate for the Knicks' coaching job while he was still under contract with the Thunder. Jackson had told reporters last week that Fisher "definitely is a person that’s on my list of guys that could be very good candidates for the job.”
Nevertheless, the Knicks and Fisher expect conversations to begin before the end of the week, league sources said.
The Knicks' support system, centered on Jackson, is an attractive part of the job to Fisher. For all the allure of New York and Madison Square Garden, New York offers a faster route to a rebuild and the playoffs over the Lakers simply because of the disparity in strength between the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Fisher played parts of 13 seasons with the Lakers, winning five championships under Jackson.