Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton told the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami that while he has expressed the desire to become a head coach in the future, he is "comfortable" where he currently is and does not plan to rush into anything.
Walton said he spoke informally with New York Knicks president Phil Jackson "a couple days ago" and that the conversation was not considered a formal interview. Jackson said earlier Monday, "Nobody has been asked[,] nobody said no" to any formal offer regarding the Knicks' head coaching vacancy.
While Walton, according to a report on Sunday, had no interest in the position, he confirmed as such to Kawakami on Monday. Walton said:
Walton, who led the Warriors to a 39-4 record while filling in for Steve Kerr earlier in the season, was granted permission by the team to interview for additional head coaching positions, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman.
Going from source to source and report to report, sometimes it's difficult to pull the facts out from the pool of speculation. But this is directly from Walton's mouth. This confirms Jackson made a call, and while Walton said the two speak often, he didn't downright deny that the Knicks' president, at the very least, inquired about his interest in the job. He left that open for interpretation.
He's not in a rush to leave Golden State under any circumstances. The longer Walton waits (even if it is because he prefers to focus on the playoffs at this point in time), the less likely it is that he becomes a head coach, not just in New York, but anywhere, next season. Fewer jobs will be left vacant as teams continue to be aggressive.
That said, Walton appears to be content with that possibility. Serving as lead assistant for a team fresh off amassing the NBA's best record of all time is undoubtedly a healthier and more secure job than stepping in as head coach for an otherwise struggling team, let alone one that plays under the bright lights of the Big Apple.
Walton stands tall as the ideal candidate to serve as the next head coach of the Knicks for many reasons. Nevertheless, Jackson needs to be careful about who he waits for, and how long. Just like Walton's job opportunities could dwindle as he chooses to wait, so will New York's pool of candidates, if the Knicks choose to wait on him specifically.
Worse than losing out on Walton would be doing so after being led on and/or internally carrying out false hope that he'll eventually come around. As good as he could be, Walton's lack of urgency around the Knicks' job is proof Jackson needs to continue shaking the trees a bit more. Getting spurned by Walton (much like they did by Kerr back in 2014) will sting a lot more if they don't prepare sensible fallback options in the meantime.