Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
David Blatt has joined the Knicks as a basketball operations consultant, the club announced Wednesday.
Blatt, the former head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was one of the finalists for the Knicks' head-coaching vacancies in 2016 and 2018. Those jobs ultimately went to Jeff Hornacek and David Fizdale, respectively.
Blatt has retired from coaching and is expected to consult with the Knicks' front office in scouting and player evaluation for the NBA club and the Westchester Knicks, the franchise's G League team.
Blatt, who has a strong relationship with team president Steve Mills and VP of player development Craig Robinson, is not expected to assist with the coaching staff.
"David Blatt is a great basketball mind and we look forward to adding him to the organization," Mills and Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a statement released by the team. "He will be a great asset to our front office, G League team and international scouting."
Blatt was at the Knicks' facility on Wednesday chatting with Mills, Perry, and Allan Houston, the assistant to the general manager. He also spoke with interim head coach Mike Miller.
"I think it's a great resource for the organization," Miller said Wednesday of the Blatt hire.
Blatt, 60, announced over the summer that he'd been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He left his post as head coach of the Greek team Olympiakos two months after the diagnosis.
In his role with the Knicks, Blatt is exploring potential options for his post-coaching career. He officially announced his retirement from coaching on Wednesday.
"I've long been intrigued by working in a front office and thanks Steve and Scott for the opportunity to be a resource in the basketball operations staff," Blatt, one of the top international coaches in basketball, said in a statement.
There will be speculation that this hire signifies something deeper about the job status of Mills, who several people with the organization expect to be replaced unless the Knicks turn things around (they are 3-3 under Miller).
The belief here is that the addition of Blatt doesn't signify anything about Mills' status. It gives Blatt, who played with Mills and Robinson at Princeton, the opportunity to pursue a post-coaching career path. Blatt has a close relationship with Mills and Robinson, and is clearly respected by others in the organization based on how strongly he was considered for the past two coaching vacancies.
But it seems far-fetched to suggest the Blatt hire has any impact on the future of the front office.
Meaningful steps at the Garden
Like most Knicks fans, Gianna Gregoire hoped to walk on the court at Madison Square Garden someday.
When she accomplished that goal before a game earlier this month, it carried extra meaning for her and her brother, longtime Knick fan Anthony Donahue.
On Oct. 14, Gregoire suffered a stroke. Days later, she was recovering in the hospital with Donahue at her side. One of the first things she said after regaining consciousness was that she wanted to walk on the court at the Garden.
"If my first steps could be anywhere, it would be there. It would be in the middle of the Garden," Gregoire said.
Weeks later, with the help of Anthony, she did just that. It was a big step in a long journey of recovery for Gregoire.
She has been in physical therapy to recover from the stroke for the past two months. Weeks after the initial diagnosis, Gregoire received more unfortunate news: doctors found that she had glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Gregoire previously was diagnosed with a germ cell tumor. She battled the cancer for two years (2010-2012) to eventually become cancer free.
She's currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy to battle glioblastoma while doing physical therapy to rehab from the stroke.
Donahue has been by her side throughout the process. He marvels at her spirit.
"I don't know how she handles all this. If you ask, she'll tell you everything is great," Donahue said. "She'll tell you the stroke was a blessing. She goes through all of this smiling every day."
Donahue has been coming to Knicks games at the Garden for years. His sister has been there with him since she was three years old. They both know the longtime ushers, security guards and concession stand workers in the building. Gregoire says it was great to feel the support of those people - and ex-Knicks great Larry Johnson - when she came to the game earlier this month.
"It was like being at home away from home," she says. "Just being out in general is exciting nowadays."
Knicks executive Allan Houston was by Gregoire's side when she first awoke following the stroke. He's been praying with Gregoire and Donahue regularly since. Gregoire also attended a Cher concert at Madison Square Garden via the Garden of Dreams Foundation. A few weeks ago, Gregoire received words of encouragement from ex-Knick Carmelo Anthony via Facetime.
"That was exciting because it was the first time I got to be face-to-face with Melo," Gregoire said. "It was nice to get such inspirational words from someone so big."
Gregoire's biggest supporter, though, is her brother. Donahue takes Gregoire to all of her appointments in New York City and Westchester; both brother and sister are optimistic that the current course of treatment will yield positive results.
"I have the most positive brother in the world next to me so it kind of rubs off," she said.
On Thursday, both Gregoire and Donahue will host a toy drive for the seventh straight year. It's at Hudson Station in Manhattan at 7 p.m. All toys will be going to the Iron Matt Foundation, a group dedicated to funding research grants for pediatric cancer and providing financial assistance to families of pediatric cancer patients.
"It's important to me because it gives me an opportunity to feel like I'm giving back to those who have helped me," Gregoire says. "….It feels good to give back to what was once given to me in my time of need."