The New York Knicks are slowly, but surely, resembling the Lakers in past years.
The latest example entails Kurt Rambis, who has agreed to a four-year deal worth $1.2 million to become a Knicks assistant coach under Derek Fisher, according to a league source familiar with the situation. The Knicks are expected to make an official announcement on Monday.
ESPN New York first reported this development.
Rambis had interviewed with the Lakers surrounding their head-coaching vacancy. He also had one year left on his contract as a Lakers assistant coach. But the Lakers provided no indications on if Rambis was a favored candidate in their coaching search. The Lakers, as do most NBA teams, also grant the head coach autonomy in assembling his own staff. Most coaches often lean on past assistants and mentors to fill those spots.
Rambis isn’t the only Lakers’ head-coaching candidate to take another position. Alvin Gentry joined Steve Kerr’s coaching staff with the Golden State Warriors as an associate head coach. Although Lionel Hollins and the Lakers discussed potentially having a second interview, the Brooklyn Nets’ head-coaching vacancy was more desirable following Jason Kidd’s controversial departure to Milwaukee. The Lakers have interviewed Byron Scott twice, while Mike Dunleavy met solely with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak
Rambis’ defection to New York seems hardly surprising. He established a close relationship with Knicks president Phil Jackson after serving as an assistant coach with the Lakers for seven seasons. Their familiar philosophies in embracing the triangle offense and methodical post-up play would help Derek Fisher, who is attempting to transfer his leadership qualities as a dependable NBA role player through 18 seasons into his first head-coaching gig. It is expected Fisher will also round out his coaching staff with others having Lakers connections, including former assistants Frank Hamblen and Jim Cleamons as well as former Lakers players Luke Walton and Rick Fox.
Still, Rambis had built a lot of equity with the Lakers.
With exception to his two seasons coaching the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rambis had various roles within the Lakers organization. After playing as a key reserve during the Lakers’ Showtime area, he became the team’s interim coach (1999), assistant general manager (1999-2001) and an assistant under Jackson (2001-2004, 2005-09). Rambis most recently worked last season with the Lakers as an assistant under Mike D’Antoni, who resigned in late April.