Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
David Fizdale is out. Here we take a look at potential candidates for the job -- assuming that their interim head coach doesn't coach well enough to do the job. It also assumes that team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry are the execs who hire the next full-time coach (here's a look at why that may not be the case).
Anyway, assuming Mills and Perry are making the call, below is a look at some potential candidates:
A New York City native, Jackson coached the Golden State Warriors for three seasons but was fired in 2014. He led Golden State to three straight playoff appearances but his tenure ended, in part, due to poor relationships with others in the Warriors organization. The Warriors owner said that Jackson "couldn't get along with anyone else in the organization."
The Knicks did some due diligence on Jackson's Warriors tenure prior to hiring Fizdale. It's unclear how far along Jackson got in the process with New York. But the idea that they chose Fizdale over Jackson, an ex-Knick who would have been mostly embraced by the fan base, is telling.
According to sources, there are members of the organization who remain wary of hiring Jackson.
Hammon knows her way around MSG as a former New York Liberty star. She also has a strong coaching resume, having spent five seasons on the bench as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. Hammon, the first full-time female assistant coach in the NBA, has served as head coach for the Spurs Summer League team. She previously interviewed for the head coaching job with the Milwaukee Bucks and seems to have the respect of the players she's coached. Hammon, obviously, would be the first female head coach in any of the four major sports if hired by New York.
Jeff Van Gundy
Mills and Perry didn't interview Van Gundy during their 2018 search. Van Gundy, per sources, would have considered taking the job at that time. He's the last head coach to have a sustained amount of success with the Knicks. He led the club to the 1999 NBA Finals and an Eastern Conference Finals.
A Van Gundy hire would be a home-run with the starving Knick fan base. Would management see the outspoken coach as someone they can win with? Again, the idea that they didn't interview Van Gundy the last time around is, perhaps, instructive here.
Woodson is the last coach to lead the Knicks to the playoffs. He's also the only coach in the last 19 years to win a playoff series in New York. The Knicks won 54 games and a playoff series against Boston in 2012-13 under Woodson. Woodson's Knicks teams shot a lot of threes and switched against the pick-and-roll - two things most NBA teams adopted with greater frequency. Woodson was fired by ex-president Phil Jackson at the end of the 2013-14 season. New York finished the year 16-4 and was one game out of a playoff spot - a disappointing season after they'd made the playoffs in each of the past three years. New York hasn't made the playoffs since Woodson was let go - losing more than 50 games in each season.
Things weren't perfect under Woodson, but he'd check another important box - experience in New York. You'd think that would be a key factor for the next coach, considering how challenging the landscape can be.
The Hall of Fame center is currently coaching at Georgetown. Would he leave the school to coach his former team? Ewing has said on the record that he'd welcome the opportunity to coach in the NBA. It's unclear, of course, if the Knicks have interest in hiring Ewing as head coach. They had several head-coaching vacancies during Ewing's tenure as an NBA assistant and didn't bring the big man in for an interview. Maybe his head-coaching experience at Georgetown changes the way the Knicks' view Ewing? Like Jackson and Van Gundy, an Ewing hire would be viewed as a win by a significant portion of the fan base.
Billups has no coaching experience at the NBA level, but he enjoyed a 17-year playing career in the NBA. the third overall pick in the 1997 draft, Billups revitalized his career with the Pistons, leading them to an NBA title in 2004, while taking home Finals MVP. Billups also has experience playing in New York, as he was traded to the Knicks during the 2010-11 season as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade.
Since retiring from the league, Billups has been in the media world, working as a studio analyst for ESPN's NBA coverage, and he is now a part of Clippers' television broadcasts. He also interviewed for the Minnesota Timberwolves team president job this past April.
Another name from the TV side is Smith, who has been with the TNT NBA team since 1998. Smith, a two-time NBA Champion with the Houston Rockets in the early 1990s, played 10 years in the NBA. The 54-year-old is a native of Queens, and in May 2018 he told TMZ Sports that he would be an NBA head coach in the next five years.
Thibodeau, a New Britain, Conn. native, has a plethora of NBA coaching experience. Starting as an assistant with the Timberwolves in 1989, Thibodeau has bounced around with a number of different teams, including as a Knicks assistant from 1996-2004.
Thibodeau got his first head coaching opportunity with the Chicago Bulls from 2010-15, and then took on the dual role of being the Timberwolves head coach/president of basketball operations from 2016-19. He won NBA Coach of the Year in 2011.
Howard, a two-time NBA All-Star and one-time NBA Champion, was a longtime assistant with the Miami Heat from 2013-19. He was then hired by his alma mater, the University of Michigan, to be the team's head coach, following John Beilein's departure for the Cavaliers.
This week, Michigan made the biggest jump in the history of the AP poll, going from unranked to the number four team in the country, following wins over North Carolina and Gonzaga (both top-10 teams) in back-to-back days.
A two-time NBA All-Star, Stackhouse retired in 2013 as a player, but entered the coaching ranks as an assistant with the Raptors in 2015. In September 2016, the Raptors named Stackhouse the head coach of their D League (now G League) affiliate Raptors 905, a team that Stackhouse led to a title in 2017.
Stackhouse returned to the NBA level as an assistant with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2018-19, but then made his way to the college level, becoming the head coach at Vanderbilt.