Jim Cleamons Rumors
Brad Turner: Former Lakers, Bucks assistant Jim Cleamons to join Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s staff, reunites with NY president Phil Jackson, sources.
While former Jackson assistants Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons are well-established candidates, the dark horse is Tyronn Lue, who has been an NBA assistant coach for five seasons, all under Doc Rivers. Rivers would need to grant the Knicks permission to speak with Lue, who was with Rivers in Boston and moved with him to the Clippers.
The NBA source said Cleamons also would have interest in anything Jackson has to offer, including a personnel gig. The NBA source also said Cleamons is a big fan of his former player, Kerr, and his ability to be a head coach because of his “quick learning curve.’’ There probably isn’t another assistant coach as well-versed in the triangle offense as Cleamons.
The stars are starting to align for an eventual reunion of Phil Jackson and Jim Cleamons in New York. Cleamons, the former Knicks starting point guard, and Jackson were teammates in New York in the late 1970’s. From there, Cleamons became Jackson’s right-hand man on the bench for nine of the Zen Master’s 11 coaching titles — four with the Bulls and all five with the Lakers. Cleamons, now a Bucks assistant coach, would seem a perfect fit as top assistant — a veteran and master of the triangle who could help potential new head coach Steve Kerr. Kerr has emerged as Jackson’s leading head-coaching candidate. According to an NBA source, Cleamons is interested in rejoining Jackson’s Knicks in any capacity. Already, former Bulls personnel man, Clarence Gaines Jr. is on board with the Knicks in an unnamed front-office job and was in Portsmouth, Va. with team brass this week for the second day of an important pre-draft camp.
Cleamons was close with former Bulls and Lakers assistant Tex Winter, who brought the Triangle offense into Jackson’s coaching life. “I know the offense, but I don’t know what his plans are,’’ Cleamons said of Jackson trying to hire a coach who runs the Triangle. “I’m worried about the Milwaukee Bucks. You have to ask Phil that question.’’