Jake Brown | Twitter |
As everyone expected, it is looking like a lock that the Knicks will fire head coach Jeff Hornacek when this grueling, frustrating season finally ends on April 11.
After a very disappointing 31-51 season last year when Hornacek arrived, and another 50-plus loss season on the way -- which includes a 9-31 stretch over the past 40 games -- it will be a sigh of relief when Hornacek gets the pink slip.
So, who will replace him? Let's take a look at a few of the top candidates and who might make sense as the Knicks try to put the right pieces together to potentially be more competitive next season.
Obviously, Jackson is the hot name on the list that most fans would have no problem with. Jackson was beloved as a Knicks guard from 1987-1992 and then returned for a second stint in the second half of the 2000-2001 season and the entire 2001-2002 season. His numbers with the Knicks were by far the best in his NBA career and he was exciting to watch. Jackson went on to coach the Warriors for three seasons, where he made the playoffs twice, losing in the Semifinals in 2012-2013, and in the first round in 2013-2014. When he left, the Warriors' dominance began, winning two out of three NBA Finals matchups against the Cavaliers.
Jackson is definitely an easy sell to Knicks fans and with the direction the organization is in, hiring him might be the best decision. He's also got a roster full of point guards that he could mentor with Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Trey Burke. This team needs to also preach defense and Jackson could do that here as he did with the Warriors. The Knicks shouldn't be all-in on Jackson as he's been out of the league now for a few years, but he should 100 percent be one of the top candidates.
Speaking of former Knicks, Williams is well-respected around the NBA and another strong option. Williams spent his 1994-1995 rookie season with the Knicks before getting traded to the Spurs in his second season. He took the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans to the playoffs twice in his five seasons there, and was the youngest coach in the NBA when he got hired.
Williams has coached or played under Gregg Popovich, Billy Donovan, and Nate McMillian. That's not a bad set of guys to learn the game from. Not to mention, Williams was the assistant coach for Team USA in 2016. He is currently the VP of Basketball Operations for the Spurs, so he would be coming from one of the classiest, winningest organizations in sports. That's exactly the kind of resume the Knicks need at this point. Definitely keep an eye on Williams, who would be a nice hire.
Fizdale probably didn't deserve to be fired by the Grizzlies after taking them to the playoffs in his first season last year and having a 7-12 start this season with a horrible roster. It seemed like Marc Gasol may have led the way for that firing to happen, but Fizdale had an impossible job to coach a Grizzlies team this season that was clearly lottery-bound.
Fizdale is just 43 years old and has 14 years of NBA coaching experience on his resume, which is remarkable for his age. He became an assistant at a young age, and saw plenty of winning as an assistant with the Heat from 2008-2016 while coaching LeBron James. I doubt many would mind the Knicks giving Fizdale a long look. He should definitely get interviewed and be in the running for the job.
I really don't think Kidd will get the job, but wouldn't it be a hell of a story? The Bucks fired Kidd when they were 23-22 in January and in the playoff chase. Kidd has had success as a head coach, taking the Nets to the Conference Semifinals and the Bucks to the playoffs two out of his three seasons there before getting canned this year in what was his fourth season.
Kidd finished his career with the Knicks, helping to lead the last winning season in 2012-2013. That was one of the most exciting Knicks teams to watch and the last team to rock MSG. Going from playing with the Nets to playing with the Knicks to coaching for the Nets to coaching for the Knicks would be a remarkable storyline, but it probably won't happen. It wouldn't be surprising at all, though, if the Knicks give Kidd an interview.
Blatt should be at the bottom of this list. There's a chance he gets an interview, but hiring him would be a mistake. The Cavaliers made a mistake hiring him in the first place. I don't believe Blatt has great command for a team, and yes, he had to try and do that with LeBron James, which is almost impossible. But Blatt just isn't fit to be an NBA coach.
The fan base would not be happy if the Knicks end up going with Blatt, who should 100 percent stay overseas, where he has coached his entire career outside of his season and a half with the Cavs. There's a reason he has not coached in the NBA outside of his time in Cleveland.