Knicks President Phil Jackson, who coached all five of the Lakers championship teams Fisher played for, said that associate head coach Kurt Rambis, a former Lakers player and assistant coach under Jackson, would be the Knicks' interim head coach at least until the end of this season.
Fisher lasted only 1 1/2 seasons with the Knicks, who lost nine of the last 10 games he coached, falling to 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Jackson hired Fisher a few weeks after he retired as a player in 2014. Fisher had a 40-96 record with the Knicks, including 23-31 this season.
"It's time for us to make a change, turn this team around and move forward and get some wins and keep going down the road we had started here at the beginning of the year," Jackson told reporters Monday.
Speculation is that Jackson will consider hiring Rambis, or two other former NBA head coaches who also played for Jackson and know his beloved triangle offense.
Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, who won two championships as a Laker playing for Jackson, is a top candidate. Walton was interim coach of the league-leading Warriors this season while head Coach Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery.
Walton led the Warriors to a 39-4 record, the second-best start in NBA history, before Kerr returned. They are now 46-4. Walton was Western Conference coach of the month for October/November.
Jackson was so fond of Walton that he used to jokingly refer to the forward as his "son." Jackson tried to hire Walton for Fisher's staff in 2014, but Walton joined Kerr instead.
Walton is not in a rush to move on from the defending NBA champions, according to a person who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. If Kerr is unable to continue after this season, Walton is the most likely candidate to be the Warriors' coach.
Former Lakers guard and assistant coach Brian Shaw also will be strongly considered for the Knicks job, according to various reports. Shaw, who won three titles as a player under Jackson and two as an assistant coach under him, coached the Denver Nuggets for almost two seasons, compiling a 56-85 record.
Jackson had wanted Shaw to replace him as Lakers coach in 2011 and was interested in Shaw when the Knicks job was openin 2014, but Jackson wasn't willing to put together a trade package to pry Shaw away from the Nuggets.
Rambis had a 56-145 record as head coach with the Lakers and Minnesota over parts of three seasons.
Former Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau, who had a 255-139 record in five seasons with the Bulls, is also expected to be considered for the Knicks opening. Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, a Knicks point guard from 1987-92, is a possible candidate too.
Last fall Fisher got into a fight with former Lakers teammate and current Memphis Grizzlies player Matt Barnes at the home of Barnes' estranged wife. Barnes was suspended two games by the NBA.
"No one's happy about how that happened and what came out of that," Phil Jackson told reporters. "That was embarrassing for us and for Derek, but that had nothing to do with what's happened here [Monday]."
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