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May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green during the second half of game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez-Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports (Pool Photo)
May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green during the second half of game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Thunder 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez-Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports (Pool Photo)

Now that the Oklahoma City Thunder have been eliminated from the NBA playoffs, the Kevin Durant Sweepstakes can officially begin.

It remains unclear if Durant played his last game in an OKC jersey in Monday night's Game 7 loss to the Golden State Warriors, but it could have been. Free agency begins July 1.

"We just lost like 30 minutes ago, so I haven't even thought about it," Durant told reporters after the game.

ESPN's Marc Stein reported that teams around the NBA are under the impression Durant will take visits and listed the Knicks, the Lakers, Washington, Miami, Boston, Houston and San Antonio among the teams looking to meet with Durant face-to-face.

The Knicks are expected to have between about $10.5-$33 million in cap space, depending on the futures of Derrick Williams and Arron Afflalo, who both have player options.

The Thunder can offer Durant a five-year contract starting at $25 million annually while other teams can only offer four years beginning at $25 million per with smaller annual increases (7.5 percent for the Thunder vs. 4.5 percent for other teams).

Or, as Stein reported he thinks is more likely, Durant could sign a two-year deal with OKC with an opt-out after one season. That would both allow Durant and Russell Westbrook and the Thunder's core to make one more run at an NBA title under head coach Billy Donovan in 2017, and allow Durant and Westbrook to hit the free agent market together in the summer of 2017.

That would give Durant at least one more seasonw with the team's young core including Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Andre Roberson and Dion Waiters.

"I see bright things for this team," he told USA Today. "And it's great to be a part of it."

ESPN reported that under such a two-year contract scenario, Durant would stand to make $25.9 million in 2016-17 and could then sign a five-year max deal in 2017 beginning at $35.1M in 2017-18 and escalating to $45.7M by 2021-22

"To be honest with you, I haven't sat down and thought about it," Durant said in January when OKC visited the Knicks. "The season moves along so quickly. And every time I get alone, it's either on the plane or in the city thinking about the game the next day. So, of course I can't totally just say I haven't thought about it at all. But I haven't sat down and really put a lot of time into what I'm looking for. Just focusing on my teammates, focusing on the season and how I can be better as a player, as a leader. Everything else comes after that and it comes after the season."

During that trip, Durant was asked about New York and his thoughts on the city, and of course he praised it as "one of the greatest cities in the world."

"I spent some nice time up here coming up and playing basketball in New York City," he said. "One of the most memorable times in my life was coming up here and playing outside, getting the pure love of the game up here. I'm always going to remember that the rest of my life, I'm going to tell my kids about that when I get older. That's something I'll always remember."

Still, since that visit the Knicks fired former coach Derek Fisher, Durant's former OKC teammate, while the status of former Knicks and OKC assistants Brian Keefe and Joshua Longstaff remains uncertain with the Knicks poised to introduce Jeff Hornaceck as their new coach this week.

A Maryland native, Durant could also opt to return home and play for the Washington Wizards.

He could head to Los Angeles and lead the revival of the Lakers in the post-Kobe Bryant Era, which is expected to include either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram.

He could pick an established team like San Antonio or Miami, or he could do the simplest thing and re-up in OKC for two years with an opt-out, and then we'll have the Durant Sweepstakes II a year from now.

Tags: Kevin Durant , Adam Zagoria

Mar 16, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Iona Gaels guard A.J. English (5) during a practice day before the first round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)
Mar 16, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Iona Gaels guard A.J. English (5) during a practice day before the first round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)

Former Iona guard A.J. English will work out for the Knicks on Thursday following a workout with Washington on Wednesday.

The 6-foot-4 English, who turns 24 in July, hopes to continue to impress during workouts this week and beyond. He has worked out for numerous teams aleady, including Cleveland, Milwaukee, New Orleans, the Clippers, the Lakers, Dallas, Utah, San Antonio and Houston.

The Knicks scouted him several times during the season at Iona.

"A.J. is one of those guys who needs to have good workouts versus higher-rated guards when he travels around the country the next four weeks," ESPN's Fran Fraschilla told SNY.tv recently. "Teams wish he was a tad more athletic, but he really knows how to play and score."

English played both the one and the two at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, but several observers noted his more natural position is as a scoring two guard.

"Doesn't matter to me," English said at the Combine, :I just want to play and get on the team."

English earned an invitation to Chicago by being named the MVP of the Portsmouth Invitational, where he averaged 17.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and a team-high 6.7 assists while shooting 58.1 percent and 64.7 precent (11-for-17) from beyond the arc.

Being from Iona, the MAAC tournament champion, English was hoping to show that a player from a smaller school can still play with the big boys.

"Yeah, of course," he said. "I'm a from a small state, too, Delaware. Everywhere I go I try to make a statement just that major players can play."

**Knicks Director of Player Development Mark Hughes on Tuesday (today) will also watch 6-2 former UConn and Seton Hall point guard Sterling Gibbs and 6-7 former Eastern Kentucky and Rhode Island wing Jarelle Reischel work out in California. Gibbs played at Seton Hall Prep, and Reischel at Point Pleasant Beach. Washington and Phoenix will also attend the workout.

**The Knicks also work out 6-4 former Seton Hall point guard Isaiah Whitehead on Saturday, his agent confirmed to SNY.tv.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

It's nice to see the Knicks giving some local talents a look early on in this pre-draft workout juncture. English is up towards the cream of the crop when it comes to local guys from the last collegiate season. He still needs to come into his own as an overall player, but English can shoot the lights out. He can spread the floor and picks his spots well. With some more development time as a primary scoring option in the D-League (perhaps as an NBA assignee), he could really flourish. As they aim to add a second round pick or two, English is someone worth New York's time. As mentioned above, he really impressed towards the end of the PIT.

Tags: Adam Zagoria

Phil Jackson is enjoying his time in New York and his current role with the organization. ( Adam Hunger)
Phil Jackson is enjoying his time in New York and his current role with the organization. ( Adam Hunger)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Lost in the process of Phil Jackson's vacation and the search for the Knicks next head coach have been several messages from Jackson's fiancée Jeannie Buss about The Zen Master's future with the Knicks.

He's here to stay.

 Buss first went public shooting down the idea that Jackson has eyes on a reunion in Los Angeles with Buss and the Lakers during a podcast with Sam Amick of USA Today during All-Star break in Toronto. She reiterated the idea that Phil is in New York to finish the job of building a perennial title contender the other day to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN when asked about the idea of Phil bolting the Knicks for the Lakers.

"No," Buss said, "To visit, yes..but in terms of basketball, he's committed to New York for many years. He's building something there. He has a mission, he's on that journey to get the team back to where he believes it can be and it will be. He's a former Knick...he loves New York."

I have heard that Phil is enjoying New York and his role with the franchise. Between huddling up with former teammates like Bill Bradley or watching New York Rangers practices at the team's facility in Tarrytown, Jackson has fully embraced the job and has been "re-energized" by the presence of Kristaps Porzingis.

Jackson has faced tremendous heat from fans and the media on a local and national level for the team's record in his first two years as a first-time executive. What the Knicks organization has lacked over the past 15 years, a stretch that has seen them win just one playoff series, is someone with the perseverance to look beyond their short term issues and with a larger - more sustainable outlook for the franchise. Jackson has brought this to the organization in a big way and it is believed he will remain in New York for the duration of his five-year deal.

That is, unless owner Jim Dolan usurps Jackson's authority, in which case I believe Jackson would resign immediately.

With Jackson in tow and with the hiring of Jeff Hornacek likely to be done this week, the Knicks now turn their focus on trying to bring more talent into the organization. Don't be surprised to see Jackson land yet another draft pick, something he's been adept in doing in his first two years here, and attempting to package it with a bigger contract (Robin Lopez?) for help in the back court. Jeff Teague is a name that has been atop the list of potential players who could be acquired via trade as the Hawks could shop him on draft night after reportedly feeling out suitors at the trade deadline.  

Jackson has never been without talent long during his career as a head coach and as the Knicks head into year three of his era as an executive it's by far the team's biggest need, especially in the backcourt. Hornacek is a coach who will want to push the pace, something that the Knicks lacked in an big way this past season. 

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis , Robin Lopez

Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports Images)
Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports Images)

With the New York Knicks gearing up to improve its roster once again this offseason, many are wondering if the team will look to make a splash with a big time acquisition. That remains to be seen, but there's no doubt signing Jeremy Lin would represent the biggest 12-point-per-game splash New York could possibly make.

The guard who sparked Linsanity back in 2012 is coming off an 11.7-point-per-game campaign in Charlotte. What's more, even though he's interested in returning to the Hornets, he's likely to decline his player option for next season first.

His potential availability, paired up with Jeff Hornacek's desire to run a more uptempo style featuring a multitude of guards, could very well open the door for both sides to explore a potential reunion, according to CBS Sports. 

After becoming a worldwide phenomenon under the bright lights of the Big Apple, Lin has carved out a very steady role for himself as one of the league's most reliable role players during stops in Houston, Los Angeles and Charlotte. Ironically enough, much of what he brings to the court is exactly what the Knicks have lacked in a floor general over the last couple of years. His style of play is probably even more sorely needed under a coach like Hornacek. He'd be a good fit, for the right price.

Lin has good instincts, and at 27, he can provide a team with a rather intelligent and steady veteran presence. He's level-headed and is someone who likes to attack the basket and slash through the lane. Lin can penetrate with the best of them. Such assertiveness is something New York has certainly missed.

An obvious upgrade over Jose Calderon, Lin could very well start in New York. He's a low-maintenance kind of guy who could just as easily provide a spark off the bench. He could provide a nice balance next to Jerian Grant, and whoever else the Knicks look to bring in at the point guard position.

Should he opt to explore the market this summer, he could look for a deal that commands as much as $12 million annually, according to Steve Kyler. Whereas this would likely price himself out of the Hornets' market, it could very well make him too pricey for the Knicks as well. One would hope such a salary does, anyway. Lin is a good player, but New York has many voids to fill. Offering him that much money wouldn't leave the team with much more flexibility to improve elsewhere, in addition.

That said, there's no doubt that Lin could help the team. His return to New York would rock the basketball world, perhaps even too much so. In talking to SNY.tv on TheKnicksBlog.com podcast back in April, Lin's former Knicks teammate Landry Fields suggested a return may also provide too much of a distraction.

Regardless of whether or not Lin would fill a modest role this time around, there's no denying the type of history and fandom he has here. What's more, questions regarding his chemistry with Carmelo Anthony would undoubtedly resurface -- at least early on. Money aside, the Knicks would need to explore and see if the positive outweighs the negative with such a potential acquisition.

Nevertheless, with a need at point guard and skills to fill the void, Lin represents a viable option worth exploring. 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Jose Calderon , Keith Schlosser

 (Vincent Carchietta)
(Vincent Carchietta)

Former Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead will work out for the Knicks on June 4th, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.

Whitehead, a Brooklyn native, averaged 18.2 points and 5.1 assists for Seton Hall this past season, and was a unanimous first-team All-Big East selection. He also received the 2016 Haggarty Award, given to the New York area's top men's Division I basketball player. The 6-foot-4 guard declared himself eligible for the NBA draft following his sophomore season at Seton Hall.

NBADraft.net projects Whitehead to be selected 39th overall by the Pelicans, while DraftExpress predicts the guard to be selected 56th overall by the Nuggets.

Before his visit with the Knicks, Whitehead will work out for the Pacers on June 2nd.


Phil Jackson isn't planning on making a permanent return to Los Angeles according to Jeanie Buss. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
Phil Jackson isn't planning on making a permanent return to Los Angeles according to Jeanie Buss. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Phil Jackson's fiance Jeanie Buss insists the Knicks president is committed to his job in New York and won't be joining Buss back in Los Angeles.

Buss, the Lakers' co-owner, made the comments on ESPN radio Monday morning.

"He's committed to New York for many years," Buss said after stating Jackson's only purpose in coming back to L.A. would be to visit. "He's building something there. He has a mission, he's on that journey to get the team back to where he believes it can be and it will be. He's a former Knick...he loves New York, he loves the fans, he wants to make them proud.

"In terms of the Lakers, we have a front office. They're putting together a team...they have a vision. I'm excited to see what the future holds for us. So, to answer your question....no, there's no plans for Phil to come back here."


Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Whether or not Jackson will depart for Los Angeles before his five-year pact with the Knicks ends in 2019 has been debated again and again. His fiancee Buss has also, tried to dispel such speculation, continuously. This is just the latest attempt, but even so, this one seems more adamant, and arguably even a little more personal as well.

Jackson took on the steep challenge of attempting to bring greatness back to the Big Apple with no prior experience as an executive. He's made both good and bad choices thus far, but his motivation is clear. He obviously has a personal connection to the Knicks as a former player, and succeeding here would obviously be an impressive way to put a stamp on his storied career.

If one were in his position, however, it would be easy to have a very balanced love/hate relationship with the fan base, much more so than a gushing love fest. The fans are anxious for obvious reasons (regardless of whether or not Jackson is solely to blame for the team's recent problems), and have been very critical of his choices (or just general decision-making process).

As many await an official announcement that New York has hired Jeff Hornacek as head coach, it's worth noting that (at least some) of Jackson's hesitation to not hire Kurt Rambis was based off pressure/criticism from the fan base. 


New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis rises up to dunk during the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. (Anthony Gruppuso)
New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis rises up to dunk during the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. (Anthony Gruppuso)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Counting down the top 5 plays from Kristap Porzingis in his rookie season:

5 - KP in the Triangle vs. New Orleans

There were more than a few examples of Porzingis' feel for what the Knicks wanted him to do, but this one stood out to me in a meaningless, late-March game against the New Orleans. The Knicks would go on to lose, 99-91, in a bad loss against the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans, but KP finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks. This gorgeous pass out of the triangle made me think of just how special KP could be within the parameters of the offense playing alongside a true, NBA starting point guard.

4- Porzingis vs Dirk

All eyes were on MSG in an early December game with the Mavericks as Porzingis matched up with Dirk Nowitzki, who many pundits had compared KP to coming into the league. The game was one-sided from the start but Porzingis was terrific in scoring 28 points on 13-18 from the field causing Nowitzki to say "he's better than I was in my 20s," so the comparison is probably unfair to him. He's a complete package.

3- The Steal and Slam that Shook MSG

In just his second professional game, one that was nationally televised on TNT, Porzingis put himself on the national map with this steal, spin and slam dunk that rocked The Garden in a way only great plays can. The Hawks handed the Knicks their first loss of the season, but the biggest takeaway from the game was KP's combination of anticipation, skill, athleticism and sense of the moment all wrapped into one amazing highlight.

2- Snapping the Losing Streak in Houston

In terms of overall games, it's difficult to choose which game was Porzingis' best, but I'm going with his mid-November effort in Houston. First of all, it was probably his best defensive game with seven blocks and overall harassment of the Rockets dribble drives, but it was the close out ability that stood out. Porzingis was easily the best player on the floor in helping the Knicks break an 11-year losing streak in Houston. His final numbers? 28 points, 14 rebounds, seven blocks and two assists and the sixth win in eight games for the then-surging 9-6 Knicks.  

1- Putback Porzingis

It's hard to just put one of Porzingis' put backs ahead of another so they have to all finish first in this top 5. Missed shots became assists for KP as his ability to attack and read misses resulted in worldwide highlights. My personal favorite was the one against Milwaukee at the Garden. The league will be on notice now to watch their collective backs every time a missed shot bounces off iron.

Did I miss any? It's easy to do because there were so many great moments to choose from. Feel free to drop yours in the comments section.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis , Tommy McNamara

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference. (AP)
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference. (AP)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Phil Jackson is poised to (after multiple reports of as such) officially take the basketball world by surprise with the hire of Jeff Hornacek as the Knicks' new head coach. At this point, there's no doubt that Hornacek knocked his initial interview - and further conversations with Jackson - out of the park. With a handful of mutual acquaintances, the two have a great deal of respect for one another. They hit it off from there.

It can't be denied, however, that Hornacek certainly isn't Jackson's taylor-made pick to spearhead his vision for success in New York. He's in no way a triangle offense disciple with experience under Jackson (or even a previous relationship) as a player or coach. Perhaps a conversation with Hornacek would not have been had, if Jackson were able to tab Kurt Rambis as the team's head coach from the get go.

But public opinion got in the way. From the media who looked at his previous experience as a head coach in Minnesota as a big negative to anxious fans who have been waiting much longer than expected to watch a winning team again, Rambis was certainly not the favorite in their eyes. The media not only penned pieces endorsing other potential candidates (ones that didn't necessarily favor the triangle or Jackson's influence), but also explained again and again why Rambis wasn't the choice. All of this could have been very accurate, but whether it is or it isn't is not the most important factor. What's key to note here is the fact that such messages maintained a lot of influence in the public eye, over social media, etc. 

If Rambis were to be the choice, there would have been massive public outcry and criticism from the media and fans alike. Whereas Jackson may not care too much about that, team owner James Dolan certainly does. He knows the type of effect such ill-favor can have on the moral of his franchise.

"With an improved roster, Kurt would have been fine. He's good with the media, a great sense of humor but can be cynical," Jackson's confidant Charley Rosen recently told the New York Post. "I think there was too much negative stuff floating around. Media had riled everything up."

"Not a pretty time in NY with the public stoning of much-valued assistant Rambis and the path ahead cluttered with a mishmash of philosophy," highly-regarded author Roland Lazenby tweeted.

"Basically proud, successful Phil Jackson was forced to abandon what he believed in to accommodate folks who don't know sh*t about winning," he said in a later tweet.

Carmelo Anthony continued to ask for input on the team's coaching and personnel decisions this season. While he may not have been officially consulted, perhaps his lack of an endorsement of Rambis was all of the input needed. Without the support of his team's superstar, Jackson's longtime assistant likely faced an uphill battle to begin with. 

It's well worth noting that even while standing tall as the team's interim head coach, Rambis was not a part of Jackson's exit interviews with the players upon season's end. He was likely looking for insight and feedback from various Knicks. One has to believe what he received wasn't very favorable.

And thus, Jackson couldn't have hired Rambis even if he wanted to. Whether or not Dolan officially stepped in is irrelevant, because even Jackson could have seen and heard fans and media members alike who were prepared to attack, should he have gone with Rambis. It wouldn't have been pretty.

Hornacek hit a home run with Jackson, and thus, emerging as the most favorable pick of the Knicks President from those not named Kurt Rambis. Jackson still gets someone he can work well with, while appeasing, not only Anthony, but all of those who would have actively continued to poke holes in Rambis' qualifications.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Keith Schlosser


It's no secret that the Knicks desperately need help in the backcourt. And, it will be fascinating to see the direction they choose to go...



Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Phil Jackson recently said he won't chase and overpay a guard. The conventional wisdom says he's saving his money to one day acquire a legitimate superstar in his prime -- perhaps next offseason.

However, that plan may have changed with the Memphis Grizzlies reportedly set to hire Miami assistant David Fizdale to be their head coach, because it could make unrestricted free agent Mike Conley more likely to head elsewhere. And, the Knicks should be at the top of his list.

That said, former team scout Scott McGuire believes the Knicks should focus on developing their own talent, specifically Tony Wroten and Jerian Grant.

"I'm pro-Jeff Hornacek. He'll help all those guys if they listen," McGuire recently told the NY Post's Brian Lewis. "Grant from Notre Dame is a terrific ballplayer. What they did with the Hardaway trade was a great trade. He didn't play that much for a while, but he had more chances to learn and make mistakes, and as the season went on, he got better. As well as Tony [can play] individually, he has to become a facilitator for others for him to make the team more efficient."

I talked the other day about Wroten's ability to drive, and like McGuire astutely notes, he has to learn to facilitate, evident by his pass rate being under 20 percent for his career.

Triangle guards traditionally have to be able to shoot off the catch and rely on cutting to get drives, but this should change under Hornacek, who preferred to open the floor for his driving guards Eric Bledson, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, who utilized their quickness to attack defenses.

Grant and Wroten both possess this skill and should benefit from screens set up top by Robin Lopez, Kristaps Porzinigis and Carmelo Anthony. Porzingis and Grant showed instant chemistry in their first year together.

Bleacher Report's Howard Beck had a note Wednesday about the connection between Jackson and Bulls free agent center Joakim Noah and how there could be interest in bringing the New York native home. That would make other current players on the roster available for trade. Two drive-centric guards rumored to be available are Atlanta's Jeff Teague, who shares an agent with Porzingis, and Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, who was lost to a devastating knee injury last season.

Jackson could sign Rajon Rondo or hold tight and try to add another young player in the draft like Indiana's Yogi Ferrell, who sources say will be part of a very small pre-workout with the Knicks. Of course, keeping the lion's share of their cap space for next year's point guard class, which includes Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul (ETO), Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Teague, may not be the worst idea either.

Thankfully, regardless of the direction Jackson decides to go, hiring Hornacek should help improve the team's biggest weakness this year and help develop some very talented pieces already in house.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Jerian Grant , Kristaps Porzingis , Robin Lopez

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah dunks over New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis. (Noah K. Murray)
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah dunks over New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis. (Noah K. Murray)

The New York Knicks are expected to have interest in center Joakim Noah, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent, should he choose to leave the Chicago Bulls, according to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report.

Noah, 31, averaged 4.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 2015-16.

The two-time NBA All-Star and 2014 Defensive Player of the Year appeared in only 29 games last season due to injuries.


Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Signing Noah, would mean the Knicks would probably consider moving Robin Lopez for a player at another position such as Atlanta's Jeff Teague. The Knicks are familiar with Teague's agent, Andy Miller, as he also represents Kristaps Porzingis.


Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

There are plenty of reasons for the Knicks to target Noah, and they certainly have the flexibility to do so. A starting job would likely be one of the big man's requirements upon agreeing to a new deal.

Is Noah a better option than Lopez at this point? That's something the Knicks will have to weigh and ponder. If he is an upgrade and/or at the very least, a comparable option, then New York may be able to hit the trade market and upgrade another position (in addition to potentially signing Noah) by dangling Lopez as desirable bait.


New York Knicks guard Langston Galloway (2) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 103-95. (Brace Hemmelgarn)
New York Knicks guard Langston Galloway (2) against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Knicks defeated the Timberwolves 103-95. (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Once they officially announce Jeff Hornacek as the team's next head coach, the Knicks will have to move on to filling out the rest of its roster with players who are likely to succeed playing in his respective offense.

In addition to exploring the trade market, New York will obviously figure to be a major player in free agency this summer. With that in mind, there's a decision to be made regarding Langston Galloway.

The guard has a qualifying offer available, and the Knicks would be smart to extend it. The QO itself is reasonable, should Galloway choose to accept it. Much like his initial signing was a year and a half ago, it would be a low-risk, high reward like move. Still, even if/when other teams show interest and present Galloway with more lucrative contracts, at least the Knicks would maintain control and be able to explore bringing him back at the right price, should they want to match any offer he happens to accept.

During his rookie campaign in 2014-15, Galloway was somewhat of a revelation coming out of the D-League. He not only proved that the Knicks could effectively utilize their Westchester affiliate to legitimately develop talent to help them at the next level, but also provided a much needed rare bright spot in what was a dismal season.

Galloway and his squad were obviously hoping that he would follow up such a campaign with a strong sophomore season, but that didn't exactly happen. Galloway was rather quiet, often getting lost in the Knicks' continued triangle offense tailspin. They played him more off the ball, turning him into somewhat of a spot-shooter. Without the ball in his hands, Galloway's assertiveness (and perhaps his respective confidence level) appears to waver a bit. He's not one to actively move too well without the ball.

He had trouble adapting, but the arguably stunted growth in his development is more the Knicks' fault. He wasn't a priority this past season. It's easy to recognize his strengths, but the coaching staff didn't really put him in the necessary spots to succeed. They put more of a focus this past season in improving his defensive instincts, which is great in itself. But he seemed to fade away on the offensive end more often than not. He had a small handful of games where that aggressive guard who could provide a boost off the bench returned, but such an impact was few and far in between

Where does that leave him for next season? Should the Knicks take another chance on him and continue the experiment? For the right price, the answer is an obvious yes. There's something to be said about nurturing your own talent from the ground out and seeing it through. The Knicks found Galloway way back when at the Portsmouth Invitational back in 2014. What's more, Galloway is a tremendous and level-headed individual. He loves New York, is great for the community, and is a strong guy to have in the locker room.

Production on the court needs to be there as well, obviously. In Jeriant Grant (and even Tony Wroten), New York will already employ two aggressive players who enjoy attacking the basket. The Knicks and Galloway need to work together and find the right balance to ensure he doesn't become irrelevant and/or invisible when playing alongside them. That said, Hornacek's three-guard lineups in Phoenix could be an indication that he could very well find ample use for Galloway as well. 

It'll be interesting to see if the incoming coach holds the young gun in high enough regard to push for the Knicks to retain him.  

Tags: Langston Galloway

Tony Wroten (1) warms up before the the game against the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center. (John Geliebter)
Tony Wroten (1) warms up before the the game against the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center. (John Geliebter)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

While Jeff Hornacek's 2013-14 Phoenix Suns were making a splash in the NBA thanks to the "drive-and-kick" abilities of both Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, another point guard was taking the league by storm in Philadelphia. 

As the Knicks approach the NBA free agency period in the coming weeks, one of the biggest moves to help fix one of their biggest weaknesses may have been solved, at least in part. Knicks President Phil Jackson has gone on record telling people that he will not overpay on a free agent, which makes the Tony Wroten experiment that much more intriguing.

Wroten, discarded by the Philadelphia 76ers during the year following a return from a severe knee injury, is taking to social media talking about his goal with the Knicks: to be their starting point guard.

Wroten isn't a traditional point guard, per se -- and I'll explain why in a second -- but he is perfect for the Phil Jackson's triangle system. He's a big, physical, versatile guard who is fearless attack the basket. While the early consensus from the media surrounding the philosophy of soon-to-be-named head coach Jeff Hornacek is that he won't be required to run the triangle, you should expect it will be integrated somehow. What Wroten brings is the best of both worlds for both Hornacek and Jackson. He's a big, physical guard with the elite ability of driving the basket, something that the Knicks really struggled with this year and that's driving to the basket. When you look at his resume, his driving stats are surrounded by the game's elite.

Before injuring his knee Wroten finished 13th in the entire NBA in drives per game (8.1) during the 2013-14 season. That placed him immediately ahead of the likes of Lebron James (7.6) Mike Conley (7.8) and Damian Lillard (8.0) and just behind a pair of Phoenix guards who played under Hornacek: Goran Dragic (10.0) and Eric Bledsoe (8.1). At the time of his injury during the 2014-15 season Wroten had increased his drives per game to 6th in the league at 10.3 per game ahead of James (9.8) and Russell Westbrook (10.2) and immediately behind James Harden (10.7). In the 8 games with the 76ers this season, Wroten rebounded to post 8.9 drives per game before being let go. 

What is the significance of driving? Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder. For one, drives allow for easy baskets, something the Knicks severely lacked this year finishing 27th in the NBA in points scored per game and 26th in assists per game. Driving puts the defense on their heels and forces defensive rotations leading to kick outs and wide open shots. They also allow for the team to play at a faster pace, something Hornacek will definitely want to do having been successful with that in Phoenix and an idea that Carmelo Anthony said he embraces. 

While Wroten has the "drive" in the "drive and kick" philosophy seemingly down pat, it's the "kick" part that could use some sharpening. In his first 3 years in the NBA Wroten has passed off of his drives just 14.3 percent of the time. Compare those 3 years to that of Dragic (45.4%) and Bledsoe (32.7%) and you can see that once Wroten commits to the basket it results in his own shots. A big reason for that can be attributed to the lack of quality perimeter players in Philadelphia and the fact that he's incredibly unstoppable when attacking, but when you look at the league's elite this past year his average passes of drives are extremely low. This past year Rajon Rondo (43%), Westbrook (31.5%), James (28.7%), Harden (26.5%), Lillard (24.3%) and Derrick Rose (23.3%) all were much more adept passers than Wroten. 

The Knicks believe they can help shape Wroten into a more willing passer and if they succeed they've added a player with an elite skill at a bargain rate. From the sounds of Wroten's tweets it appears that he'll be with the team at Summer League in Orlando working to fine tune his game and prove he can push for the starting job. When you look at his highlights and his resume, the Knicks may have really found themselves a gem who can immediately fit a pressing need and one that directly would impact their wins and loss record next year.The best part of it all being they added it without dipping into their funds to improve the team in other ways as well this summer. 

Will he fit with the "kick" part of Hornacek's drive-and-kick system remains to be seen but it's definitely worth taking a chance on if you're the Knicks.


Anthony Donahue and Moke Hamilton discuss the hiring of Jeff Hornacek, his qualifications for the job and if he will coach the Triangle offense.

The guys also debate whether Rajon Rondo would be best suited to play with Melo. And, later, Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com joins the show to give his take on the hiring of Hornacek.


Carmelo Anthony seems to like the hiring of Jeff Hornacek (above), even if the Knicks' start wasn't consulted. (Jerome Miron)
Carmelo Anthony seems to like the hiring of Jeff Hornacek (above), even if the Knicks' start wasn't consulted. (Jerome Miron)

Despite not having any input to the pending hiring of Jeff Hornaceck, Carmelo Anthony appears to be ready to accept him as the Knicks' new head coach.

"I played against him a couple of times when he was the head coach out there in Phoenix," Anthony told WNBC-TV Saturday. "Everybody knows he likes to play an up-tempo pace of game, likes to get out in transition, likes to speed the game up a lot. So from that standpoint, I'll definitely be looking forward to that."

Anthony also believes Hornacek's offensive changes can help the Knicks return to the playoffs after a three-year absence.

"It sets the stage for us to do that," Anthony said. "[It's a] new opportunity, something new to play with, something fresh, a clean plate. So hopefully we can build off of this momentum."

Anthony said team president Phil Jackson didn't speak to him about Hornacek. "Whatever Phil did, he did on his own," said Anthony, who had expressed a desire to be consulted about the hire.


Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

 Despite his multiple requests to be included, one could have easily predicted that Jackson wasn't going to openly seek Anthony out for his opinion.

Given how much of a surprise Hornacek's selection truly is to just about everybody, it's highly unlikely he would have been one of Anthony's preferred candidates for the job. That said, his recent comments, at the very least, suggest he has an open mind and is looking forward to benefitting from what makes Hornacek a strong choice.

Anthony wanted the Knicks to have a relatively extensive coaching staff. It's fair to say that as they come away with the former Jazz guard as their next head coach, they certainly did that. It's good to see the team's star player on board with pushing the pace more. That's an early step.

Next up will be identifying the appropriate personnel to surround Anthony with, to better accomplish what Hornacek and Co. are trying to do. What's more, they'll also need to evaluate already existent talent to see how they can work with them to better help those players get to where the Knicks need them to be as next season comes around.


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The thing that gets me most excited is the idea that Carmelo Anthony recognizes the need to improve the Knicks' horrid transition game. He was a big part of it defensively as the league, almost as a whole, ran out on every jump shot he took. Those runouts resulted in far too many easy baskets on the other end.

Offensively, playing with more pace in transition will benefit Jerian Grant (or a PG upgrade) and Kristaps Porzingis in early pick and roll situations. It's great to see the Knicks recognizing weakness and looking to change it. That's the opposite of stubbornness.



Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek coaches against the Denver Nuggets during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. (Joe Camporeale)
Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek coaches against the Denver Nuggets during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. (Joe Camporeale)

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ESPN's Zach Lowe is a one of the more outspoken supporters of the metrics side of basketball in NBA new media, a place where many think the game will be based around going forward. Lowe got the chance to talk to then-Phoenix Suns' coach Jeff Hornacek in 2013 and published a Q&A on Grantland following Hornacek's hiring, the contents of which are fascinating. A few things stood out to me right away, and they are important as the Hornacek Era begins in New York, especially if you're a fan of the metrics approach.

 

Zach Lowe: "You guys were either no. 1 or no. 2 in midrange jumpers, and fell way below the league's average in 3-point attempts. Do you want to change that?

 

Jeff Hornacek: Oh, yeah. We gotta get rid of that long 2. I'm not opposed to the middle jumper, in that 15- or 16-foot range. I think all but two teams that were in the playoffs, their effective field goal percentages were above 51 percent. If you can shoot 15-footers and shoot 52 percent, OK, you're beating the average. You can't totally discount those shots."

 

"Long twos" are shots that live between mid-range area and the three point line. They are the least-efficient shots a player can take on the floor because of the value of risk of the result (two points, not three) and the low percentage of shots made. They are often a result of great defense ruining an offensive set. Coaches will tell you that the hardest part of eliminating these shots is running your offensive effectively and teaching players how to not find themselves pressed against the shot clock and having to force this type of field goal attempted. Hornacek believes it's not just about long twos, it's getting players to stop shooting low-percentage shots anywhere.

 

JH: "You'd be surprised how many times I ask a player, 'If I make a play for you to shoot from the free throw line, that's a great shot for you, right?' And the guy will say, 'Oh, yeah, absolutely.' And then I'll pull out the sheet and show him he only shot 34 percent last year from that spot. I don't think they understand where they shoot well from."

 

Hornacek clearly wants to play a more efficient style, but the question is can he teach it? He's proven he can take the Suns from the league's second-worst offense in 2012-13 to the 8th best in 2013-14, in terms of Offensive Rating, per basketball-reference.com.

The Knicks offense ranked 24th in Offensive Rating this year and have a ways to go to get better. Hornacek will clearly ask the team to pick up their pace. In his two-plus seasons in Phoenix, the Suns ranked in the top three in pace twice. The Knicks finished 28th and 26th in pace since Jackson has taken over the team and have gotten consistently destroyed in transition on a nightly basis.

Whether Hornacek can teach players to shoot from more "efficient" places on the floor remains to be seen. Critics seemed to think that Knicks players had issues with the triangle because there was more thought than just reacting and playing basketball. But the game is at its rhythmic best when players are seeing what coaches want them to do combined with their own natural instincts.

Teaching how to change these numbers will always be the key, and if Hornacek can, then expect things to improve here very quickly.


Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek talks to his players during the first quarter of the NBA game against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. (Godofredo Vasquez)
Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek talks to his players during the first quarter of the NBA game against the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena. (Godofredo Vasquez)

Jeff Hornacek might not be forced to run the triangle offense with the Knicks, reports ESPN New York's Ian Begley

Hornacek agreed to a deal in principle earlier in the week to become the next head coach of the team, according to multiple reports. 

Begley said sources close to the situation have noted that although Jackson has been adamant in the past about using the triangle, Hornacek could have freer reign when it comes to setting up the offense. 

As for who will possibly return as assistant coaches, Begley reports that is unclear at this time. Mike Longabardi, who worked as Hornacek's defensive assistant, is currently with the Cavaliers. 

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There has been a ton of rhetoric surrounding Phil Jackson's obsession with the triangle. The fact is both Derek Fisher and Kurt Rambis never truly ran the triangle fully. And if you have high post action and cutting, like Hornacek's Suns offense did, the triangle can easily be integrated.

Also, that's a great note from Begley about Longabardi, who started his career with Jeff Van Gundy and worked for Doc Rivers in Boston for six years. Hiring Longabardi, a Brooklyn native, away from Cleveland to help the defensive efforts, could be a shrewd move.


 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

Knicks F Carmelo Anthony has still not decided whether he'll play for Team USA this summer during the Olympics in Rio.

"I've been committed since my junior year in high school," Anthony said, according to NBCOlympics.com. "With this one I'm going to take my time and really think about it, and, you know, a lot has to go into play with this one."

Anthony has played during the last three Summer Olympics (2004, 2008, 2012).

While he remains undecided about playing this year, he said he wants to play 20 years in the NBA.

"I think I'm in the prime of my career right now. I have years to go in this league," Anthony said. "I see guys playing 20 years. That's a goal of mine - to play 20 NBA seasons."

 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

 (Isaiah J. Downing)
(Isaiah J. Downing)

The fact that Jeff Hornacek's name is not Kurt Rambis immediately makes his expected hiring as the Knicks' next head coach an automatic victory for Phil Jackson and Co. in many respects.

Still, as Hornacek steps up to the plate and New York moves on from the drama over the choice itself, it's worth pondering what kind of impact his expected hiring will have on the team's summer plans.

Multiple reports have suggested the Knicks won't be as married to the triangle under Hornacek as initially thought. This may provide some flexibility with regard to which players they subsequently target during free agency. But it's worth noting that Hornacek favored a fast-paced and sometimes free spirited offense with the Suns.

He often rolled lineups that featured not just two point guards at a time, but sometimes three. Former Knick Channing Frye (and other similar players) were also slotted at the center position relatively often as well.

What does all this mean for the Knicks? For starters, Jerian Grant playing second-fiddle to Jose Calderon isn't going to cut it.

Over the course of his tenure in New York, the team has desperately wanted Calderon to push the pace a bit more. He hasn't been up for the challenge thus far. Under Hornacek, going full speed would only seem to be an even more daunting (and/or crucial) task. This should make Calderon an all the more likely (if he weren't already) candidate to be traded, or cut by utilizing the stretch provision.

Given Calderon's inability to thrive and Hornacek's preferences, it would be in their best interests to free themselves of his roster spot and cap hold.

With that in mind, targeting more uptempo and younger floor generals should be a priority for the Knicks. Hornacek's hiring would be a very positive development for Grant, but the team needs more. They'll be on the lookout for guards to supplement and/or pair alongside him. This not only makes sense under Hornacek, but also somewhat falls in line with what the team was previously planning already.

Moving Calderon and/or targeting quality guards via free agency is one way to go. Exploring and scouring the trade market for a potential fit or two is another. There's no denying that Robin Lopez soared towards the end of this past season, even arguably living up to Jackson's relatively steep investment. But Hornacek's style may make the big man somewhat expendable. Lopez could serve as valuable trade bait to help the Knicks get who they want and need.

Heading into next season, the Knicks could opt to roll out Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis as their four/five combination much more often as well.

Hornacek's potential selection comes with plenty of positives, but the Knicks' standing as more desirable to potential free agents isn't necessarily one of them. His name isn't one that jumps off the page, especially as a coach. Still, throughout his tenure as Knicks president, Jackson has thus far strayed away from making the sometimes unnecessarily big splashes. But perhaps the decision not to go with Rambis is a big enough splash as it is.

It'll be interesting to see if desirable guards are more inclined to give the Knicks consideration this summer after what Hornacek achieved with his young talent in Phoenix.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Jerian Grant , Jose Calderon , Kristaps Porzingis , Robin Lopez , Keith Schlosser

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Phil Jackson's next order of business will be aimed at Carmelo Anthony, a source close to the team president told me yesterday

"Phil's greatest gift to Michael (Jordan) was that he gave him complete ownership of the team from the locker room to the court," a league executive explained. "He never got in Michael's way."

In the past, Anthony has said he'd like to have more of a voice in Jackson's decision-making process. However, what Jackson would like to see is Melo focusing on himself, not the overall franchise, while taking a bigger step forward in terms of leadership in the locker room and during games.

"Phil doesn't want to see Melo become a byproduct of the process," the executive said. "This is his team. This is where he has to seize the opportunity to own the success of the team."



In his first year with the Knicks, Jackson was disappointed with Anthony's unwillingness to read assigned books during the offseason. And, with the exception of Anthony, all players who refused to properly prepare are no longer with the organization. That message was received loud and clear by Anthony, I'm told, as he came in to camp this past season far more versed on Jackson's message. Anthony immediately bonded with rookie Kristaps Porzingis, making it clear he would begin taking ownership of the team, just as Jackson had planned for him.

However, there needs to be more. Anthony made some strides this past year, but now with Jeff Hornacek on board, and with Porzingis in the mix, Jackson finally has Anthony in a place to help him in the same manner he did with Jordan. That speaks to the level of belief that Jackson has in his star, as any comparison to Jordan is the ultimate compliment to any NBA star.


Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson addresses media before the start of game against Charlotte Hornets at Madison Square Garden. (Noah K. Murray)
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson addresses media before the start of game against Charlotte Hornets at Madison Square Garden. (Noah K. Murray)

Phil Jackson was "blown away" by Jeff Hornacek during his interview earlier this week, before pulling the trigger and agreeing in principle to make him the next Knicks head coach, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Hornacek was hired over reported candidates Frank Vogel, David Blatt and incumbent interim head coach, and Jackson disciple, Kurt Rambis.

Berman cites that Hornacek will have the freedom to instill his own offensive system, rather than Jackson's triangle offense.

In two and a half seasons as head coach of the Phoenix Suns, Hornacek had a record of 101-112 without a playoff appearances.


Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

It's well known that Jackson does things his own way and dances to the beat of his own drum, but he's surely not completely immune to the whispers (or in this case, loud rants) of Knicks fans everywhere under distress from the idea that he may hire Kurt Rambis as the team's regular head coach. He hears them, regardless of whether or not they actually motivate him to sway one way or another in his decision-making process.

Berman confirms something that was also so abundantly clear, given the surprise selection of Hornacek: he absolutely aced his interview with his Jackson. Even if there were seemingly better candidates suited for this job on paper, the fact that Jackson was able to make a stand alone decision based on Hornacek proving himself (rather than a premeditated decision that centered around Rambis) is very refreshing.

At the beginning of this process, Jackson asserted that only people he knew would be considered as a part of this. He and Hornacek may not have a previous personal relationship, but Jackson faced the former guard as a member of the Jazz in back to back NBA Finals. Obviously after going head to head in such matchups, Jackson has a mutual respect for Hornacek's former coach Jerry Sloan. With the Warriors considering him as a potential assistant coach, Steve Kerr surely thought highly of him as well. Thus, there were people Jackson could talk to. He knew Hornacek by association, in addition to being impressed by the candidate on his own.

Ironically enough, regardless of the thought process, Jackson comes out a winner here, if only solely based on the fact that this hire won't be Rambis. The long-time Jackson confidant can still be considered an asset, either in the front office or as an assistant to Hornacek. Still, he didn't seem up to and/or qualified to be head coach. It should be a relief to know that his loyalty to Jackson didn't cloud the executive's judgment.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

Isola talks Hornacek and Knicks 00:05:56
Knicks insider Frank Isola joins the show to discuss the direction of the team after hiring Jeff Hornacek as its new head coach.

The Knicks and Jeff Hornacek have agreed to a deal, in principle, and are negotiating a contract, according to multiple reports.


Updates from May 19

5:37 p.m.: The Knicks have offered the job to Hornacek, and the two sides are negotiating a deal, according to the Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

5:19 p.m.: It's still possible Kurt Rambis remains on the coaching staff, according to Daily News reporter Frank Isola

5:12 p.m.: The Knicks and Hornacek have agreed to a deal in principle, Isola tweeted, though he says an official announcement is not likely to happen Thursday night.

Hornacek, 53, was interviewed for the position earlier in the week, according to multiple reports.

He was fired by the Suns during the middle of last season with a 101-112 record since 2013.


Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

5:55 p.m. At this point, a union between the Knicks and Hornacek is inevitable. Given all the various reports, one may have wondered if this was legitimate, especially considering how out of the box, not only Hornacek's candidacy in general, but also his hiring, really is.

Though his selection is a surprise, what shouldn't come as much as a shock is Hornacek's interest in the Knicks job. While he was said to have interviewed for the openings in both Washington and Sacramento, New York is about as good as it was going to get for someone of Hornacek's qualifications and presented track record. It wasn't in his best interests to toy with the possibility, much like Steve Kerr did two years all.

A top assistant post in Golden State would have made for a nice consolation prize, but now Hornacek has the opportunity to be regarded as a potential savior under Phil Jackson for an ever so hungry and anxious fan base. There aren't many lights that shine as brightly as those in the Big Apple.

9:36 am: If nothing else, this is as refreshing a hire as Jackson could have made, because it's different than what everyone expected. It's an out-of-the-box move. Jackson obviously had a chance to get a good look at Hornacek up close as an opponent through two NBA Finals. Back then, Jackson was said to covet Hornacek as a player. His intrigue is obviously extending to a different plateau as he plans to tab Hornacek as his next head coach >> Click here to read more


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5:40 pm: So, the Knicks and Hornacek have entered "The Steve Kerr Zone, which is the stage of negotiations in 2014 when Kerr famously started talking to the Warriors. He eventually left the Knicks at the alter. From all account, it's clear that this won't be the case with Hornacek, but no deal is done until the ink is dry...

9:35 am: Hornacek is a shocking move, which is typical Phil Jackson. He is well-respected in NBA circles as a player and coach and certainly has the respect of Jackson from his battles with the Utah Jazz against Jackson's Bulls in the late 1990s.

 



Previous Posts

Knicks president Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills were seen Wednesday having dinner with Hornacek in New York, according to the Daily News.

Later in the night, Bleacher Report's Howard Beck reported the Knicks plan to hire Hornacek as their new head coach. The Bergen Record's Steve Popper said the organization started to inform other candidates that Hornacek will be their choice.

Hornacek's name emerged late, as he was the first candidate Jackson scheduled for an interview, according to Bleacher Report

Frank Vogel, David Blatt and interim head coach Kurt Rambis were also reportedly interviewed this offseason.


Frank Vogel was fired as Indiana coach after losing a first-round playoff series to Toronto. (Dan Hamilton)
Frank Vogel was fired as Indiana coach after losing a first-round playoff series to Toronto. (Dan Hamilton)

Latest update

Former Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, who the Knicks interviewed last week, has agreed in principle to become the next head coach of the Magic, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Meanwhile, the Knicks are reportedly close to naming Jeff Hornacek their head coach.

Previous reports and reaction

Knicks president Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills met with Vogel last week in Los Angeles, according to Frank Isola of the Daily News.


Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

After so much discussion surrounding Jackson's preference to hold triangle-versed coaches in a higher regard during this search, not giving Vogel a proper look would have been unfortunate.

Vogel was one of the better quality coaches available, but Jackson has turned his back on coaches with impressive resumes already this offseason. That said, not only did Vogel work for Jackson's Lakers (albeit, not closely together), he also openly praised and admired Jackson's coaching philosophies.


 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has been unanimously selected to the 2015-2016 NBA All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced today

Porzingis and Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns were the only two players to be unanimously selected, as they both received all 130 First Team votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States and Canada.

Joining Porzingis and Towns on the First Team are the Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker, the Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic, and the Philadelphia 76ers' Jahlil Okafor. 

Porzingis was third among rookies in scoring with 14.3 ppg, second in rebounding with 7.3 rpg, and first in blocks with 1.86 bpg. The Latvian forward won Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month three times, and became the first Knicks rookie to score at least 1,000 points in a season since Mark Jackson in 1987-1988. 

The NBA All-Rookie Second Team consists of the Miami Heat's Justice Winslow, the Los Angeles Lakers' D'Angelo Russell, the Nuggets' Emmanuel Mudiay, the Indiana Pacers' Myles Turner, and the Sacramento Kings' Willie Cauley-Stein. 

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis

 (Tommy Gilligan)
(Tommy Gilligan)

Jim Boeheim says the Knicks should hire the best available coach, not the best triangle coach.

"Well, I think you always want to get the best available coach," Boeheim said Wednesday on The 4 Quarters Podcast. "I don't think anybody's ever won with the triangle except for Phil Jackson and I don't think he's coaching, is he?"

No, he's not, coach.

Kurt Rambis, who is versed in the triangle, remains the Knicks interim head coach while Jackson has reportedly interviewed Frank Vogel and Jeff Hornacek in recent days. David Blatt has also been linked to the Knicks opening.

"I think you gotta get the best coach and you gotta use the best offense for the personnel you have," Boeheim said.

Carmelo Anthony, whom Boeheim coached to the 2003 NCAA championship, has expressed a desire to be at least somewhat involved in the Knicks' coaching search.

"He's at the peak of his career right now," said Boeheim, who said he watched "60 or more" Knicks games this past season. "It's his time to try to make that push. I thought he played great last year. Nobody noticed it because they didn't win. But I thought his defense was better, his passing was good, his rebounding was good. He just needs to get somebody. They need to get somebody in the backcourt that can make a difference. I think everybody knows that. I'm not saying anything that everybody in New York doesn't know.

"But it's such an important part for them moving forward...I hope they get somebody that can help them there and he can have a great year next year."

The Knicks surrendered their draft pick, No. 9, to the Toronto Raptors, but are trying to add a late-first or early-second round pick in the June 23rd NBA Draft.

They also will be looking to add a point guard via free agency.

"I think they need some help at the guard, I think [Kristaps] Porzingis has got a great future," Boeheim said. "But they obviously need some help in the backcourt to stabilize their team and I think if they get that they're going to be much better. And if they don't, they're going to struggle."

Tags: Adam Zagoria

Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo (9) reacts after the Kings score against the Phoenix Suns during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. T (Kelley L Cox)
Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo (9) reacts after the Kings score against the Phoenix Suns during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. T (Kelley L Cox)

After absolutely thriving while playing out a "make-good" one year contract with the Kings, Rajon Rondo may have already very well priced himself out of Sacramento's market heading into free agency.

Thus, there may be a window of opportunity for the Knicks to target him instead. 

Rondo is arguably coming off one of the best seasons of his career --- he tied a career-high with a league-leading 11.7 assists per contest, shot a career-high 37 percent from beyond the three point line, and his 72 games played were his most since the 2009-10 campaign. He also logged 11.7 points and 2 steals per game.

Rondo has rubbed teammates and coaches the wrong way at times over the course of his career, but Carmelo Anthony himself has praised Rondo before, even going as far as endorsing him as a solid fit for New York. 

Perhaps Phil Jackson doesn't exactly feel the same way, as he has previously dispelled the importance of a point guard in the Knicks' offense. Taking a look at Jackson's championship-winning triangle offense teams, a high profile floor general was never truly a priority. 

Anthony has repeatedly said that he wants his voice heard with regard to personnel and coaching decision this offseason, but it doesn't appear as though Jackson has been in touch to get his star player's input thus fat. By now, it's clear that the executives dances to the beat of his own drum, and no one else's. But ironically enough, Derek Fisher dismissed the idea that Rondo could excel in the triangle as Knicks' head coach earlier this season. Having said that, he and Jackson clearly didn't see eye to eye at all times, either. 

Rondo is definitely worth consideration, especially after what he proved during this bounce-back campaign in Sacramento. He overcame plenty of questions about his attitude, health, overall quality of play, and even some relative shooting woes. Much like Anthony is chasing his own first championship in hopes of proving he can play at the same level as his draft class contemporaries, perhaps Rondo has similar hunger to prove he can help lead a squad to such a plateau without three future Hall of Famers by his side. 

The Knicks have various needs, but a quality point guard is undoubtedly one of them. Jackson may not think so, based on the makeup of his previously successful squads. That said, it's clear the Knicks don't necessarily need to be married to every last triangle ideal that proved to work in the past. This team can be successful, all while being different, but still with elements of the triangle sprinkled in. 

They obviously have some cap room to play with. At 30 years old, Rondo is still in his prime, and could prove to be a worthwhile investment for about three more years, at least. As long as targeting him doesn't cause the Knicks to greatly sacrifice filling other notable needs, they should go after him. 


Frank Vogel gestures during first half play against Toronto Raptors in game seven of the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. (Dan Hamilton)
Frank Vogel gestures during first half play against Toronto Raptors in game seven of the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. (Dan Hamilton)

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I wanted to take a poll to see which coach Knicks fans prefered and I had a pretty good idea who they wanted Phil Jackson to hire as their next head coach.

In the same manner that Tom Thibodeau may have been the people's choice, before finding a match to his power and front office prestige cravings in Minnesota, Frank Vogel has emerged as the fan's leading candidate to replace Kurt Rambis on the sidelines. In tallying two polls, on TheKnicksBlog and my Twitter account, the final results are:

  1. Frank Vogel - 54.5%
  2. David Blatt - 39.5%
  3. Other - 4%
  4. Kurt Rambis - 1.5%
  5. Jeff Hornacek - 0.5%

Vogel is a defensive-minded coach first who was let go by the Indiana Pacers for his lack of offensive creativity. Blatt was unceremoniously dismissed because more because if a lack of locker room harmony than the Cleveland Cavaliers' on court performance. These are seemingly the two top candidates for the position. The resounding response I heard on my Twitter feed was that some would be happy with either.

I, myself, prefer Blatt, frankly because of his adaptability and that he's the clear candidate to develop Kristaps Porzingis based off the fact that his resume loaded with success in Europe, where Porzingis' development roots exist. I firmly believe the normal NBA fan has limited understanding of the European game, a notion that really got under Blatt's skin while in Cleveland. But, I can see Knicks fans wanting to stick to the brand message (DEE-FENCE) vividly recalling how Vogel surgically dismantled Mike Woodson in their 2013 playoff matchup.

This clearly appears to be a two-candidate race, with 98.5% of fans ready to move past Rambis' interim reign and even less enamored with the idea of Jeff Hornacek patrolling the sidelines.

The fans have spoken and their preference is clear. Either Blatt or Vogel will do, with the edge going to Vogel.  


 (AP)
(AP)

NEW YORK -- The Knicks won't pick at No. 9 in next month's NBA Draft, and it's all because the franchise traded for a player no longer in the NBA.

Former GM Glen Grunwald dealt the rights to the franchise's first-round pick to Toronto for Andrea Bargani, who was a washout with the Knicks and is now out of the NBA.

Because of the Carmelo Anthony trade, Denver had the right to trade for the Knicks' pick, which is now controlled by Toronto.

When the ping pong balls landed on Tuesday night in the NBA Draft lottery, the Raptors would up with the rights to the No. 9 pick in the June 23rd NBA Draft.

"It means so much for us to get a top 10 pick and be in the final four of the NBA Playoffs, is remarkable for us as a franchise," said Raptors President and GM Masai Ujiri, whose team faced LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. "We're blessed to be here and we got the best of both worlds and we'll see how it goes. I think this is the easy part, now you have to pick the player, but we're excited."

DraftExpress.com currently has Michigan State power forward Deyonta Davis at No. 9, while NBADraft.net has Utah 7-footer Jacob Poeltl at No. 9.

The Knicks most pressing need is in the backcourt, but the top two guards in the draft -- Providence point guard Kris Dunn and Kentucky two guard Jamal Murray -- figure to be gone at No. 9.

"It's a huge asset for us in many ways," Ujiri said. "Whether we're bringing in a young player or doing anything with the pick is a huge asset for us and we're happy to have it."

In addition to conducting a coaching search, the Knicks are also looking to obtain a late-first or early-second round pick and interviewed numerous players at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, where President Phil Jackson was absent.

Tags: Adam Zagoria

 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Just over a month ago, Phil Jackson spoke with the media, but left many scratching their heads in confusion with a rather puzzling comment.

"Only people I probably know will be involved in the interview process," the Knicks President said regarding the team's search for a head coach (New York Post, April 14). 

As quality coaches like Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks (among others) have been scooped up by new teams without even as much as a glance from Jackson, he's garnered criticism from the media, the team's fan base, and others of the like. In choosing to keep his focus on Kurt Rambis and (assumedly) other triangle disciples that he himself has groomed as a player or coach (and perhaps can potentially manipulate and/or persuade to do things his way as he coaches from his seat in the stands), Jackson appeared to be keeping a closed mind.

When Luke Walton's name came up and it was reported that Jackson reached out, there was optimism in the air. In addition to spending time with Jackson's Lakers as a player, Walton had obviously most recently become a part of another winning culture, obtaining a championship ring with the Warriors last season as an assistant. After leading Golden State to a 39-4 record as interim coach this past campaign, Walton was seen as a "best of both worlds" like option for the Knicks.

But when Walton choose to go for the Lakers' job without even providing Jackson with as much as a formal interview, Jackson was again largely criticized and ridiculed. Two summers ago, he lost out on Steve Kerr. History repeated itself with Walton a bit. What good is a guy with Jackson's reputation and connections, if he can't even successfully recruit those close to him? It makes sense that after two losing seasons and various failed recruiting efforts of both players and coaches alike, some have doubted Jackson along the way.

But most recently, Jackson has, surprisingly enough, gone on to widen his coaching net a bit. Talk of a smokescreen aside, he has entertained other candidates and hiring Rambis as the regular head coach no longer appears as much as a sure thing as it once did. 

David Blatt's path to get his foot in the door and talk to Jackson may have been carved out by his old college buddy Steve Mills, but he's seemed to have since gained favor with the President. If he becomes the next coach, he shouldn't just necessarily be perceived as "Mills' guy." 

Frank Vogel is another interesting choice. Despite coaching the Pacers for the last six seasons, he spent one year as an advanced scout for Jackson's Lakers. The two may have had minimal direct interaction, but working for the same team almost guarantees the two walked in the same circles and developed mutual connections. Thus, there are people Jackson can talk to, that he trusts, that are more familiar with Vogel. Given that Vogel hired Jackson's triangle disciple Brian Shaw as an assistant back in Indiana, Jackson can talk to him for feedback and intel on the former Pacers' coach as well. Thus, he's able to "know" him by association.

Similiar association can be made pertaining to former Jazz assistant and Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. As a player with Jazz, the sharpshooting two-guard was considered quite the formidable opponent of Jackson's Bulls, having helped Utah go head-to-head with Chicago in back-to-back NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. Hornacek played a key role in helping the Jazz get as far as they did, and had the respect of (future) Hall of Famers Jerry Sloan, Karl Malone, and John Stockton. He was a hard-nosed competitor. Jackson surely recognized that both then, and perhaps now, as well. Again, after walking in similar competitive circles, there are surely people Jackson can talk to (in addition to Hornacek himself, obviously) to get a better idea if he's the right fit for the Knicks and what Jackson is aiming to do.

It's good to see Jackson continue to widen his coaching net, even if the search to fill the Knicks' respective vacancy is taking longer than some may have expected and/or preferred. Still, there can also be a little bit of irony found in Jackson's prior comments, and the most recent interviews. He's proving not to be as limited as initially thought, and reaching out to those he may know, even if only at first by association, is a very healthy practice. 


 (Trevor Ruszkowski)
(Trevor Ruszkowski)

The Knicks have interviewed Jeff Hornacek for their head coaching job, league sources told Marc Stein of ESPN.

In addition to Hornacek, the Knicks have interviewed Frank Vogel, David Blatt, and interim head coach Kurt Rambis.

Hornacek, 53, was head coach of the Suns from 2013 to 2016. He was fired in the middle of last season after going 14-35.

His overall record in parts of three seasons as Suns head coach was 101-112.

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

While many are obsessed with Phil's absence at the NBA combine in Chicago, despite losing their first round pick in the Andrea Bargnani trade, both Jackson and Mills are quietly getting to know the thoughts on available coaches.

Hornacek is an interesting name because he is not a traditional triangle guy by any means. That gives you a good sense that Phil stubbornly being married to "his" style may not be the case.

Vogel, a former advance scout of Jackson's, is facing an uphill battle as Blatt has "set the bar extremely high." Blatt, who Jackson has had on his radar since he was unceremoniously dumped by the Cleveland Cavaliers in January, was so impressive in his meeting that both Jackson and Mills have privately "been raving about him" to anyone they speak to and have progressed with talks for him to become their next coach.

By now it should be clear that Jackson and Mills both understand how important this decision is, especially for the future development of prized rookie Kristaps Porzingis as well as their star, Carmelo Anthony. Jackson clearly is not obsessed, stubborn and close-minded despite what you may have read elsewhere.

And by being allowed to make the call, with the assistance of Mills, it will show an exceptional change in the leadership of the owner, James Dolan, who has meddled in the past. This is an important hire for the future of the Knicks, and the future of Jackson's tenure here after failing on his first hire, Derek Fisher.

Hopefully for everyone involved, that decision comes soon, maybe even as early as this week. Jackson and Mills now have closely interviewed three of the top available free agent coaching candidates. If they indeed are the team the owner wants everyone to believe then the hiring will certainly explain the thought process of the organization.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Knicks F Kristaps Porzingis finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, losing out to Karl-Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves, who won the award unanimously. 

Porzingis received 117 second place votes and 12 third place votes.

Niklola Jokic of the Nuggets came in third place.

Porzingis, 20, averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 72 games this season.

He has opted against playing for his native Latvia in the Olympics this summer, choosing instead to focus on training with the Knicks.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis

 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

CHICAGO -- After three days at the NBA Draft Combine this week, here are five things we learned about the Knicks.

**The Knicks are trying to get a pick

The Knicks surrendered their first-round pick in the Andrea Bargnani trade (remember him?). As of this moment, DraftExpress.com has the Denver Nuggets selecting former Oklahoma two guard Buddy Hield with that pick at No. 7. Think Hield, who dropped 46 on Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse and who averaged 25.0 points and 5.7 rebounds, might help the depleted Knicks' backcourt?

Sources said the Knicks are trying to obtain a late-first or early-second round pick ahead of the June 23 NBA Draft. The Celtics have as many as eight picks, the Sixers have three and the Knicks would surely love to obtain at least one.

The Knicks interviewed a slew of players at the Combine, including Syracuse shooting guard Malachi Richardson, Syracuse point guard Michael Gbinije, Seton Hall point guard Isaiah Whitehead, Villanova small forward Josh Hart, Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, Kansas guard Wayne Selden and Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith.

That's obviously a mix of point guards, wings and forwards, indicating the Knicks have wide-ranging interests and needs. Most of those players -- with the possible exception of Diallo -- are also considered late-first or second-round type picks. Some, like Trimble, Hart and possibly Whitehead, might also head back to college since they haven't formally signed with an agent.

"They didn't talk about the pick that they didn't have," Trimble told me of the Knicks. "It was a good interview."

 

**Phil Jackson didn't feel the need to be there

As reported here on Thursday, the Zenmaster didn't make an appearance at the Combine. Neither did GM Steve Mills.

By comparison, there were a Who's Who of decision-makers from other NBA franchises in the gym, including Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Jerry West, Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau, to name just a few.

Jackson is reportedly making $12 million year, meaning he earned $32,877 a day to not be at the Combine. That's almost $66,000 for the two days of the event.

 

**Phil trusts Allan Houston to conduct interviews

The Knicks did have a large contingent on hand, including assistant GM Allan Houston, interim coach Kurt Rambis, consultant Mark Warkentien and scouts like Kristian Petesic and Walker Russell.

According to many of the players, Houston ran the interviews and the kids were impressed by him.

"That was cool to see," Maryland's Trimble said. "When I was very young I saw Allan Houston play and he was a good player on the Knicks. Just to have him be there is always good. He reminds me of Juan Dixon being there for us at Maryland. It's always cool to see veteran players come back."

"It was cool," said the 6-9 Diallo, who will sign with an agent this week. "I never met [Houston] before. I saw him on TV, so that's kind of a big deal."

 

**Kurt Rambis certainly appears to be the coach going forward

The Knicks interim coach was in the gym both days, but declined interviews both to writers and to ESPN's Andy Katz.

So we were unable to ask him questions, such as: Have you been told you will be the coach of the Knicks next season? Do you think you have the job, and why is the coaching search taking so long? Why isn't Jackson here? And do you hope to add a draft pick despite not having one?

So far, Rambis appears to be Jackson's No. 1 preference to run the team going forward, largely because of his familiarity with the triangle offense and Jackson's comfort level with him.

That is the case even though Carmelo Anthony has appeared frustrated with the Knicks coaching search, which until this point has been limited to Luke Walton and David Blatt.

Ironically, Tom Thibodeau, the new Minnesota Timberwolves President and coach, was in the gym. So was his top executive, former Knicks and Utah Jazz exec Scott Layden.

One source told SNY.tv that Thibodeau "would walk here for that [Knicks] job," but Jackson never interviewed him and Thibs now gets to coach Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

"It's been a whirlwind," Thibodeau, who did speak with the media in Chicago, told CSNChicago.com. "All of a sudden you get hired and have a lot to do," Thibodeau said at Quest Multiplex, the site of the NBA Draft Combine. "It's exciting. I'm looking forward to the challenge. We have, I think, the best young core of talent in the league but we have a lot of work to be done. And we're looking forward to it."

 

**The Knicks had no interest in talking to the media

See above.

 

Tags: Adam Zagoria

Charlotte Hornets guard Nicolas Batum in action against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports Images)
Charlotte Hornets guard Nicolas Batum in action against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports Images)

After a strong first season in Charlotte, Nicolas Batum's representatives are not only well aware of the Knicks' interest, but also believe they'd offer him a maximum contract, according to Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler.

As one of the most versatile players in the league, Batum makes the game easier for those around him. After logging career-high averages in both points and assists, he undoubtedly carved out a nice niche for himself while helping Charlotte make some noise this past season. With the Hornets on the upswing, they, too, should be poised to present Batum with a max contract offer in order to keep him. He's in a nice situation, so there are plenty of reasons to stay.

Still, the Knicks should stand a chance. There's motivation to consider playing in the Big Apple as well. Bigger markets are often appealing, and the team does have desirable talent to play with. New York could slot Batum at the 2, giving them tremendous size, length, and strength across four different positions, with him alongside Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez

When Lopez sits, New York would have the impressive flexibility of shifting everyone else over one position and still presenting a rather potent lineup.

Arron Afflalo did some nice things early on last season, but after isolating him to the bench toward the end of the campaign, it's clear the Knicks aren't too concerned about retaining him (even if they should have been). Having said that, Batum would surely be an obvious upgrade. He helps spread the floor due to both his knack for knocking down long-range jumpers and ability to find teammates in transition and/or cutting to the basket. 

The team could desperately use an upgrade at point guard; that's no secret. But if the real need is an intelligent player with stellar court vision, Batum provides that. In Charlotte, he served as somewhat of a point forward. Incorporating him into the triangle offense would go a long towards helping the Knicks develop some much needed continuity, flow, and rhythm into their offense. 

Much like Afflalo did on occasion, perhaps Batum could step up as Anthony's right-hand man to pour in 20-25 points on a given night, if that's what was needed. He can step up and providing a scoring outburst. Batum's value would come in his ability to make everyone better. He'd be worth the maximum contract, not only for his own production, but also his infectious ability to help others do positive things around him. 

Though he's developed a solid reputation as one of the NBA's premiere "3 and D" guys, Batum's identity might not necessarily scream "superstar," but that's OK. Aggressively targeting him (perhaps more so, subsequently signing him, if successful) would be a sign that the Knicks are dedicated to building a strong team unit with all the perfectly aligned puzzles, much more so than making a splash with a bigger name. 

The news here is that Batum's team is aware of New York's interest, and that Phil Jackson and co. are intrigued enough to go all in on a player with his abilities. The likelihood of mutual interest (should Batum be eyeing a return to Charlotte) not may not be very high, but this smart move is worth pursuing. 

Tags: Keith Schlosser

Jan 10, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks president Phil Jackson addresses media before the start of game against Charlotte Hornets at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Jan 10, 2015; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks president Phil Jackson addresses media before the start of game against Charlotte Hornets at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

If you are a House of Cards fan, Phil Jackson is implementing his version of "America Works" within the halls of Madison Square Garden. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on the heels of the worst financial time in our country's history, The Great Depression, focused his "New Deal" initiatives on what he called the "3 Rs" Relief, Recovery, and Reform. We can learn a lot from history, and the state of the Knicks organization, especially to fans, has never been in a deeper depression so Jackson figures why not take a page or two from the books in order to move them forward?

The Knicks, as an organization, have been nothing short of a mess since Pat Riley, Jackson's arch nemesis, faxed in his resignation while living the good life on vacation. From Dave Checketts battling Patrick Ewing, leading to the worst trade in Knicks history, to Stephon Marbury and interns, to Eddy Curry or the Glen Grunwald Era, the Knicks have been the portrait of mismanagement. Even the Jeff Van Gundy Era had major bumps, namely when Checketts wanted to hire Jackson in 1999 before they went on their epic run to the NBA Finals famously securing Van Gundy's job.

A plan starts, then gets disrupted midway because of a severe lack of patience and a demand on results. New York is the city of distractions.

Jackson, who has been hammered by the press for his lack of experience and the team's overall record in his first two years, has largely ignored the heat choosing instead to tell his story, albeit cryptically, via social media. His tweet outlining his management style and the qualities he's looking for his next head coach caught me as particularly fascinating.

He's taken all the heat during the coaching search while his owner, James Dolan, is on tour playing with his band JD and the Straight Shot. Sources close to Dolan tell me that the much-maligned owner, who is at the root of the mismanagement, "has never been happier in his life." Obviously, he would be a little happier if the Knicks were still playing, but the fact that he's not aggressively ready to push any panic buttons is telling. That, of course, could change if he denies Jackson's requests to hire another coach outside of Kurt Rambis. If this happens, Jackson will undoubtedly pack his backs and head his frontier in Montana, and the Knicks will have to hit reset button and search for more management answers.

That would be a disaster.

Transformational management is an approach to company leadership in which management leads the organization through a transformation in direction, processes or other critical elements of operation. That is what we are seeing in Chicago and Jackson not being there tells us a lot. First, it tells us that, like last year, Jackson has put faith in his scouting department to report to him their findings. The last time he followed this management style, they ended up drafting a player who was not in Chicago last year with the fourth overall pick. That seemed to work out OK. 

If your expectations for Jackson coming into the situation he inherited were taking those players to a championship level, then you were being misguided. Jackson's job is to build a consistent winner and going into year three of the job he's built a solid core and he's implementing a management style that promotes inner unity. Those who aren't on board have quickly found their way out of the organization. It's a historically effective strategy if it is supported and allowed to play itself out. There are only things stopping Jackson from building a winner here. One is the same impulsiveness and lack of patience that has plagued the franchise since the late 1990s and the other is adding talent, which the team hopes to do this offseason.

Jackson, like FDR and Frank Underwood, envisions an organization in which everyone is on the same page and pulling their weight altogether, each employee playing his or her own part in the solution. It certainly sounds nice in theory, but in New York, the clock is always ticking and patience runs out quickly.

It's time to start winning. 


New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference. (AP)
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference. (AP)

CHICAGO -- When he last Tweeted on May 4, Phil Jackson was in South Dakota getting a photo snapped of himself next to a monument honoring Native American war leader Crazy Horse.

The Zenmaster hasn't Tweeted since then, so there's no way of knowing if he's at his summer home in Montana or in Los Angeles or New York. Or here in the Windy City.

Jackson hasn't Tweeted a picture of himself eating deep dish pizza or checking out his old stomping grounds at the United Center, where he won six of his 11 NBA championship rings with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading the triangle.

This much is certain: While many other team executives -- including Jerry West of the Warriors, Larry Bird of the Pacers, Jerry Colangelo of the Sixers, Sean Marks of the Nets, John Paxson of the Bulls, Danny Ainge of the Celtics, Darryl Morey of the Rockets and Bob Myers of the Warriors -- are here there was no sign of the Knicks President for Day 1 of the NBA Draft Combine at the Quest Multisport Complex.

"I have not seen him," an NBA spokesman told SNY.tv of Jackson, who reportedly makes $12 million annually to run the Knicks.

Among those on hand for the Knicks were interim head coach Kurt Rambis, who appears to be Jackson's No. 1 -- and perhaps only -- choice to run the triangle that Jackson holds sacrosanct.

Rambis declined comment to SNY.tv and the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, so we were unable to ask him questions, such as: Have you been told you will be the coach of the Knicks next season? Do you think you have the job, and why is the coaching search taking so long? Why isn't Jackson here? And do you hope to add a draft pick despite not having one?

Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston, Director of Player Development Mark Warkentien and scout Kristian Petesic are among those also on hand.

"Phil has his people there," one league source said.

Jackson reportedly was in Chicago for the last two Combines, although he remained at his hotel for player interviews and didn't come to the gym.

The fact that Jackson's been "On the Road" across America while the Knicks are conducting a coaching search -- and leading up to next month's NBA Draft -- has been a major topic of conversation both in New York and nationally.

"When Larry Bird took over for the Pacers, he was the first guy in the gym in Chicago," a second league source told SNY.tv here. "Jerry West was always in the gym. Those guys are not on ranches in Montana."

It might be a fine excuse for Jackson to miss the Combine if the Knicks were in the NBA playoffs, but their season ended on April 12 -- a month ago.

So the optic isn't good.

"Phil obviously doesn't worry or care about that," the first source said.

The Knicks don't own a pick in this draft, but are said to be looking to add a second-round pick.

The rival Celtics, by contrast, own eight picks. Denver has five. Utah and Phoenix have four. Several teams, including Philadelphia, have three.

So the Knicks could potentially add a pick in a deal with one of those teams.

Even if they don't add a pick, Jackson could -- and probably should -- be scouting players here who the Knicks might acquire down the road via a trade or free agency.

The Nets, who have a second-round pick, are running a free agent mini-camp May 23-25, according to Moke Hamilton of BasketballInsiders.com and SNY.tv. What are the Knicks doing to be proactive?

On Day One of the Combine, Phil appeared to be a no-show.

Tags: Adam Zagoria

 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Update, 7:35 p.m.: Willy Hernangomez's agent Andy Miller told Ian Begley of ESPN "there is no accuracy to the report" the Knicks have offered his client a four-year, $4.5 million deal.


The Knicks are preparing to make a four-year offer worth $4.5 million to C Willy Hernangomez, who has been playing for Real Madrid, reports Javier Maestro of Encestando.

Maestro notes that Hernangomez has already rejected two offers from Real Madrid and that he's expected to wind up with the Knicks.

The 21-year-old Hernangomez is 6-foot-11, 255 pounds, and was the 35th overall selection in last June's draft. His rights were then traded to the Knicks.

Hernangomez averaged 5.5 points and 3.4 rebounds while playing 11.6 minutes per game this past season for Real Madrid.

He's a former teammate of Kristaps Porzingis, who said earlier this year that he hoped Hernangomez would join the Knicks.

"I hope he's here,'' Porzingis told the New York Post's Marc Berman in February. "If it was in my hands, I'd obviously want him to be here. I think he really wants to be here. I'm not sure - both sides have to make a decision. I'd really love to see him here.''

"He's big, very good hook shot with both hands,'' Porzingis continued. "He really knows how to hold his defender. He's really good in the post. The triangle offense would fit very well.''

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

The Knicks are desperately in need of some positive bright spots, and there's certainly a possibility Hernangomez could serve as one next season.

Phil Jackson is undoubtedly high on the big man, as the young gun appears to not only have potential, but also an aptitude for the triangle offense. Lacking draft assets obviously makes Hernangomez's desired arrival all the more important. Moreover, whatever he brings to the table will be a further reflection on Jackson's eye for talent.

New York will need to get creative with plenty of holes to fill this summer. Hernangomez would not only fill a potential void, but also do so at a reasonable price. This is good news.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

 (Jasen Vinlove)
(Jasen Vinlove)

Syracuse F Michael Gbinije is slated to meet with the Knicks at the Draft Combine in Chicago, Gbinije told Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal.

Gbinije averaged 17.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 4.3 apg for Syracuse this past season. The 6'7" forward shot 46.1 percent from the field and 39.1% from the three-point line. He also averaged 1.9 steals per game. 

Gbinije is found in the second round in most mock drafts. NBADraft.net projects the former Syracuse forward going 38th overall to the Milwaukee Bucks, while DraftExpress projects him to go 55th overall to the Brooklyn Nets.


 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

When Phil Jackson took over as Knicks president, he inherited a team with a somewhat murky future. The team lacked sufficient draft assets and didn't have much cap flexibility, either.

People can say what they want about Jackson, such that he's taking his sweet time hiring the Knicks' next head coach. And his efforts to change the Knicks' overall fortunates have undoubtedly been part of a very slow moving process without much proven positive results.

That said, he's been very effective in a couple of different areas. For starters, he's cleared cap space and given New York the flexibility to be big players in back-to-back summers. One could argue the talent he brought in last offseason wasn't enough to get the Knicks over the hump. But on the other hand, the team's coaching woes (decisions also spearheaded by Jackson, of course), are what truly held them back even more.

In any event, for better or worse, Jackson acted fast and overhauled this team relatively quickly so that he could put his own stamp on it. And though he wasn't left with much to work with for upcoming drafts upon coming on board, Jackson has done a solid job of getting creative.

Whether it's been buying second round draft picks, acquiring them in earlier trades, and/or flipping future years' picks to pull the trigger on a more talented player, Jackson has been aggressive. Obviously, Kristaps Porzingis was snagged using New York's own pick, but Jackson acquired two more picks in last summer's draft and scooped up a total of three second-rounders in 2014.

He's stashed the likes of Louis Labeyrie and Willy Hernangomez overseas and gotten a good look at Thanasis Antetokounmpo via the team's D-League affiliate in Westchester. Cleanthony Early has obviously been a Knick for two seasons, and Jackson turned Tim Hardaway Jr. into promising youngster Jerian Grant in a trade with the Hawks.

Speaking of Antetokounmpo and the D-League, the Knicks have really begun to utilize the minor league -- not only to scout young talent, but also while attempting to mold certain players to their liking by helping them gain familiarity with their system.

After scouting him at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament back in 2014, New York plucked Langston Galloway from the D-League after a couple of months in Westchester. Much like the Knicks are out on the prowl at the Draft Combine this week, they've continued to use the PIT to scout and evaluate potential talent -- perhaps even those to scoop up after they go undrafted.

After getting them some minor league level exposure to the triangle in Westchester, New York called both Antetokounmpo and Jimmer Fredette to the NBA club for extended looks this past season. Neither one lasted long, but having such a roster spot open to explore players is another example of flexibility at the right time.

The Knicks might not have a draft pick heading into June, but Jackson has proven that's no reason to hold back. They're easily obtainable. What's more, even without picks, there are still ways to evaluate, hone in on, and perhaps subsequently scoop up young talent through other avenues. New York is well aware of what those other avenues are.

Tags: Jerian Grant , Kristaps Porzingis , Langston Galloway , Keith Schlosser

 (Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE)
(Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE)

Former head coach and current NBA broadcaster Mike Fratello said that he would be happy to talk to Phil Jackson about the opening as head coach of the Knicks in an interview on WFAN.

"If Mr. Jackson has any free time and he would like to sit down, I would love to talk to him about it, anytime he has some free time," Fratello said. 

The NBA coaching veteran also told WFAN's Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts that he would not mind running the triangle offense.

"If you look at the offenses around the league - and it's a lot of the better teams - they have all taken pieces of the triangle, because parts of the triangle are inherent to offensive basketball," said the former coach. "We overload one side of the floor, and the other side of the floor is obviously the weak side of the floor. San Antonio does it. Golden State has incorporated it. There's a number of teams that have parts of the triangle that they use. They just don't use the same wording as Phil did and as his great assistant, Tex Winter, did over the years. So you can find a place for it in your offense."

The northern New Jersey native has spent parts of 16 seasons as a head coach in the NBA, including time with the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Memphis Grizzlies. His 667 regular season wins makes him one of the winningest head coaches in NBA history (18th on the all-time list), but his teams have never advanced past the conference semifinals. 

Fratello coached the Ukranian national team from 2011-2014, but has not coached in the NBA since 2006.

 


Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Based on the nature and tone of this interview, perhaps it's not time just yet to take Fratello's candidacy very seriously.

Still, what is important to note here is his views on the triangle offense. Obviously he's open to it, but that's because Fratello understands that the system itself isn't as foreign, complicated, and/or plain outdated as some may believe it to be. Instead, he recognizes that plenty elements of the triangle (even as subtle as they may be) are incorporated into the systems of the best teams in the NBA today. Thus, it shouldn't be so strange that a worthwhile candidate like a David Blatt or even Frank Vogel would be willing to embrace it and work with Jackson. 

Should he somehow get in touch with Jackson at some point, however, Fratello wouldn't be a bad name to eventually throw into the mix more legitimately. 


 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

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Carmelo Anthony and his teammates may be comfortable with Kurt Rambis as an assistant, but they prefer someone else be their full-time head coach, team sources recently told me.

"They had some chances to win close games (after Derek Fisher was fired) and some (players) didn't feel Kurt had them prepared," a source close to the players said. "Kurt was in a tough spot, but -- with Melo getting older -- they have to win 50/50 games. The players aren't convinced they can with Rambis."

Kristaps Porzingis, I'm told, is letting the team's leadership sort out next steps with the head coaching hire, despite understanding his importance in the process. He's provided input but isn't interested in forcing Jackson's hand. What's more, he stands in full support of Anthony, who he considers a friend and mentor.

"One of the things that fans need to understand about KP is that he's as savvy and wise beyond his years off the court, as much as on it," a different source who knows Porzinigis recently told me. "He understands the leadership situation and trusts that Phil and Melo will put him in the best position to develop and succeed."

According to reports, Anthony prefers hiring David Blatt to Rambis, mostly because of Blatt's track record developing young big men, which is a major priority for the Knicks because of Porzinigis. And, if I'm correctly reading into Jackson's cryptic tweet from a few months back, it seems Jackson feels the same way. He clearly stated that -- when deciding who the next coach will be -- he's not looking to "exclude other systems that include group play."

Anthony is close friends with Lebron James, who reportedly had an icy relationship with Blatt in Cleveland. However, if Melo is in fact on board and showing internal support for Blatt, it would be a major step toward bringing him to the Knicks.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis

New York Knicks Executive Vice President & General Manager Steve Mills answers questions during media day at MSG Training Center. (Joe Camporeale)
New York Knicks Executive Vice President & General Manager Steve Mills answers questions during media day at MSG Training Center. (Joe Camporeale)

The Knicks are looking to add a second round pick in next month's NBA Draft, and are expected to have Steve Mills, Allan Houston, and Kristian Petesic present at the NBA Combine, a source tells SNY.TV.

The Knicks currently have zero picks in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Depending on the result of the draft lottery, the Knicks first round pick will either be sent to Denver or Toronto, as part of the seperate deals that brought Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani to New York (Denver has the right to swap first round picks with the Knicks, while the less favorable pick between the two teams will be sent to Toronto).

The Knicks second round pick will go to the Rockets via the Kings via the Blazers in the trade that landed Raymond Felton in New York.

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It's good to see the Knicks have some sort of representation here, even if Phil Jackson still isn't set to be a part of it.

New York is heading into drive time for NBA Draft scouting without a head coach. That could make things somewhat difficult, but Jackson is obviously targeting a coach who understands and is ready to carry out his respective vision. Perhaps an eventual unified front between Jackson and the next head coach will make it a smoother transition. 

Obviously the head coaching vacancy is a more pressing manner than an upcoming draft with no present picks. Still, Jackson has been known to get creative when acquiring second draft picks closer to selection time, so that should be considered a possibility. 

Last season, Derek Fisher attended the combine with Knicks' brass. Rambis is an extension of and in close contact with Jackson, so whatever his role turns out to be, it makes sense that he's out in Chicago as well. 

Rambis is an asset to this team, especially in a scouting sense. He has a good handle on what the team may be looking for, if and when they acquire a pick. Having him there, however, shouldn't necessarily be considered any sort of indicator that he'll be the next head coach.


Carmelo Anthony is reportedly in favor of hiring David Blatt to be the next Knicks head coach (Jesse Johnson/USA Today Sports Images)
Carmelo Anthony is reportedly in favor of hiring David Blatt to be the next Knicks head coach (Jesse Johnson/USA Today Sports Images)

Carmelo Antony is in favor of the Knicks hiring former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, according to Marc Berman of the NY Post.

Anthony believes that Blatt's international experience would help expedite the development of Kristaps Porzingis, whom Melo is relying on to reach his full potential, more than the other reported head coaching candidates.

Blatt, 56, was a highly successful coach in the Euroleague and Russian Super League before taking the Cavaliers job last season. He led Cleveland to a record of 53-29 and an NBA Finals appearance in his first season.

However, Blatt was fired mid-way through this season, in spite of a 30-11 record. 


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The Knicks are on a much clearer and healthier path than the one Jackson inherited two years ago. If he decides to hire Kurt Rambis, though, it says to me that he's going all-in on a coach that he knows won't survive, because he won't have the talent to win enough games. Why? Rambis lacks the gravitas and clout to lure top free agents. And, if no one joins the cause, Rambis already has shown he doesn't have enough support from the current team to lead them forward.

In other words, Rambis would be Jackson's last shot at saving the Knicks, and it would be a mistake waiting to happen. Instead, I want to see Jackson hire Blatt and add talent to the roster -- especially in the backcourt >> Read more.

 

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

After two poor seasons (even after putting what looked to be a talented group, at least on paper on the floor, this past campaign), the Knicks could very well have difficulty attempting to reel in the types of free agent targets they desire. 

Porzingis' potential will not only be key in in enticing prospective free agents, but also because a player of his expected (or current, for that matter) caliber gives Anthony an immediate shining star for his supporting cast. With that in mind, if Porzingis is as good as it's going to get, with regard to stronger players around him, it makes sense that Anthony sees the value in a coach who can elevate Porzingis to the fullest.

Blatt is arguably the strongest coach still available, but he's an even better fit when it comes to the Knicks' job. Anthony has an ego, much like most superstars, but his fire to win a championship (or at least, get as close to one as possible) still burns. With a mindset like that, perhaps he and Blatt wouldn't butt heads similarly to the way he and Anthony's buddy LeBron James did in Cleveland. As he grows older (and still doesn't have an NBA title to show for it), Anthony will have to continue making certain sacrifices. He attempted to be more unselfish on the court last season. Being in favor of a Blatt hire, because it would strengthen Porzingis' future (and that of the Knicks, subsequently) proves he's ready to continue doing that. 

Luckily for Anthony and Co., Blatt's qualifications go well beyond his reported openness to preaching and teaching the triangle. There are plenty of reasons to hire him.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

David Blatt looks on during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. (Steve Mitchell)
David Blatt looks on during the first half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. (Steve Mitchell)

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I continue to read and hear callers on talk radio suggest that Phil Jackson must be unhappy and dissatisfied with his job and the direction he's taking the Knicks. However, according to people familiar with his thinking, the opposite is true. Jackson is loving his job as President of Basketball Operations, which seems like an obvious statement to me.

I imagine Jackson sitting on his personal frontier in nature, deeply contemplating life, his legacy and the next steps for the franchise he controls. In those moments, he can focus on the positive, such as rebuilding a culture with players that work hard, remain focused and work to play a team style of basketball that Jackson has used to repeatedly achieve the NBA's ultimate prize.

He can be excited about Kristaps Porzingis, who quickly took the sports world by storm with vicious putback dunks and dazzling all-round skills never before seen in a 7'3" frame. He nailed that draft pick and simultaneously landed a franchise cornerstone.

However, the one decision Jackson regrets is the one he is now facing. His biggest mistake so far was trusting Derek Fisher to guide and lead the rebuilding process, the one Steve Kerr opted not to do, and it was an unmitigated disaster. It has put a damper on what has been significant progress -- even if Jackson's win-loss record at the helm of the Knicks doesn't reflect it.

The Knicks are on a much clearer and healthier path than the one Jackson inherited two years ago. If he decides to hire Kurt Rambis, though, it says to me that he's going all-in on a coach that he knows won't survive, because he won't have the talent to win enough games. Why? Rambis lacks the gravitas and clout to lure top free agents. And, if no one joins the cause, Rambis already has shown he doesn't have enough support from the current team to lead them forward. In other words, Rambis would be Jackson's last shot at saving the Knicks, and it would be a mistake waiting to happen.



Instead, I want to see Jackson hire David Blatt and add talent to the roster -- especially in the backcourt -- which, together, will give them their best chance to get to the playoffs. Blatt has proven he can be a plus coach, who can exceed expectations and get the most from his players. He's done it all over the world, not to mention in Cleveland, where he helped guide an injury-riddled team to the door step of a championship. 

Blatt isn't Phil Jackson. However, people who have played for him -- LeBron James aside -- know his capabilities as a head coach. The same can be said for Frank Vogel... just ask Paul George. However, for the sake of ownership and the fans, the Knicks need one leader who will help them exceed expectations. 

Right now, Jackson can take pride in the start of a long term plan centered around Porzingis. But, one thing is absolutely certain. Whoever he hires as the organization's on-court leader will be the sign and symbol of his thinking, which is based on his understanding that this could be his last shot at making the Knicks a winner.

He can't get this one wrong. Phil, hire Blatt!

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis

Former Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw (Chris Humphreys/USA Today Sports Images)
Former Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw (Chris Humphreys/USA Today Sports Images)

Former Indiana Pacers assistant coach and Denver Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw said he doesn't think he'll interview for the New York Knicks' coaching vacancy because he doesn't want to impede on Kurt Rambis, he told ESPN's Hannah Storm on Monday.

"Kurt Rambis is there," Shaw said. "He's very adept at running the triangle, and if Phil Jackson wanted a coach that's going to run that system for him, he has a guy that's there that he has confidence in. So I don't see him bringing in somebody else who has the knowledge of that system when he already has somebody there."

Shaw was fired from the Nuggets coaching position midway through the 2014-15 season after a 20-39 start in his second year at the helm. He has a 56-85 record in 141 games as head coach.

Shaw was a former assistant of Frank Vogel, the former Pacers head coach who has been linked to the Knicks' opening.

Though Shaw, Vogel and David Blatt have all been linked to the Knicks' position, Rambis, who took over as interim coach midway through last season after the Knicks fired Derek Fisher, has been considered the favorite to become the permanent head coach.

 

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

The optics of this interview seem to promote the idea that Shaw is a head-coaching candidate. With that in mind, he isn't going to step on the toes of Rambis.

Though Shaw seems strictly focused on dismissing his potential candidacy for the Knicks' head coaching vacancy, he didn't address joining New York's staff as an assistant.

Perhaps that's still a possibility. In addition to Rambis, Jim Cleamons and Rasheed Hazzard came in, well versed in the triangle as assistants under Fisher. It's important to have a staff that powers home the message and respective vision of its head coach. Shaw could still be considered for a role should no superior job post materialize for him beforehand. He won't be competing with Rambis for a job, but working under him (or whomever the Knicks end up hiring) isn't a bad fallback option for an out of work coach.


 (Jason Getz)
(Jason Getz)

It wouldn't be surprising if the Knicks attempted to trade for Hawks PG Jeff Teague this summer, surmises Ian Begley of ESPN.

Teague, 27, averaged 15.7 points and 5.9 assists in 79 games this past regular season for the Hawks.

He's under contract for $8 million in 2016-17, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent.

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Teague and Kristaps Porzingis share an agent in Andy Miller, but that's just the beginning of the synergies between the current Hawks point guard and New York.

The Knicks need a drive-and-kick player in the worst way as an upgrade to Jose Calderon and a possible complement to Jerian Grant. They need a quick, attacking guard who can get out in transition and get easy baskets for teammates. Last year the team finished 29th out of 30 teams in total transition points, total made field goals and scoring frequency. They were 28th in points per possession.

The Hawks, thanks to Teague, finished eighth in both total transition points and total field goals made and 13th in points per possession. All significant upgrades.

But do the Knicks have enough assets to secure Teague, a player who will certainly be coveted by teams who need a speedy guard?

Teague has leverage here, as Ohm Youngmisuk points out, with a reasonable contract ($8 million per year) that expires at the end of next season. Plus he knows the Hawks will have to make a decision on whether he or Dennis Schroder will be the quarterback going forward. In regards to Grant, it stands to reason the Knicks would most certainly have to include him in any deal for Teague from a talent perspective.

Would the Hawks consider a Grant/Calderon/pick swap for a player they may lose anyway? Do the Knicks just wait until free agency to pair Teague with Porzinigis, keep Grant, and let Calderon leave as a free agent?

Add this to the list of decisions Phil Jackson is going to have to make. If I'm Jackson I'd be inclined to monitor the situation very closely to start the season should Teague not be dealt during the offseason. But it seems a potential trade sooner rather than later is becoming more likely, putting the onus on Jackson to make a decision on filling a clear need for the Knicks heading into the 2016-17 campaign.

Tags: Jerian Grant , Jose Calderon , Kristaps Porzingis

 (Geoff Burke)
(Geoff Burke)

David Blatt will interiew with the Rockets for their vacant head coaching position, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Knicks interviewed Blatt a few weeks ago in New York and he had recently returned to Israel to await a decision.

In addition to Blatt and Kurt Rambis, the Knicks have reached out to former Pacers head coach Frank Vogel about their head coaching job.

Blatt also interviewed for the Kings' head coaching vacancy, but that job is expected to go to Dave Joerger, according to Stein.

The 56-year-old Blatt was fired midway through the 2015-16 season despite coaching the Cavaliers to a 30-11 record.

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The Rockets are a bit of a mess. The Knicks have their own problems (perhaps starting from the top), but the New York vacancy should, at the very least, be more appealing than the one in Houston.

Perhaps if he had his pick between the two, Blatt would still opt to head for the Big Apple. But as Phil Jackson spends time in Montana, the Knicks have yet to make any formal offers to existing candidates.

For as many firings there have been this offseason, coaches are also getting snatched up by teams and assuming new jobs relatively quickly. With the Knicks taking their time, they not only risk losing out on coaches who other teams target, but they could also be pushing away their own preferred candidates in the process.

Hopefully New York's coaching search doesn't come to the point where someone like Blatt is "forced" into taking another job, fearing that if things with the Knicks don't pan out he'll be left with nothing else.

If Kurt Rambis was the Knicks' top preference, he would have been hired already. That said, one has to wonder what is taking them so long. Quality coaches like Blatt, Frank Vogel, and others are available. But as we've seen already this offseason, it likely won't be long until such caliber coaches are plucked off the board.


If the Knicks keep Carmelo Anthony (7), he'll need to follow the model of Paul Pierce (left) to prolong his career. (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
If the Knicks keep Carmelo Anthony (7), he'll need to follow the model of Paul Pierce (left) to prolong his career. (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

As Phil Jackson makes his pilgrimage to the great Northwest to decide who will ultimately be the next head coach of the Knicks, there's another big-time decision that he has to ponder during his travels.

Is it time for the Carmelo Anthony Era to end?

Anthony's time with the Knicks since the trade deadline deal that brought him here in 2011 has been disappointing to say the least.

Injuries, a locker-room divide, coaching changes and overall lack of stability has cast a shadow over The Melo Era in a similar way it did Stephon Marbury's. Marbury once came to New York with the hopes of being the prodigal son, only to find himself being benched at the end and at the center of a scandal that shook the inside of Madison Square Garden to its core.

While, Anthony's off-court behavior is nowhere near as bad as Marbury's, on the court the Knicks have failed to reach lofty expectations that have been with the organization for nearly two decades.

In Anthony's defense, the team hasn't always had the resources to completely build around him. He never fit with Amar'e Stoudemire, whose mammoth contract prohibited the Knicks from making deals for other star players such as Chris Paul.

And, as Anthony's stardom fades with each passing year, it's critical he understand how to progress to the next phase of his career like other greats have after their 30th birthdays. Anthony turns 32 May 29.

In my mind, Paul Pierce's golden NBA years are the exact model to follow. The question for Jackson is are the Knicks willing to bet that Anthony can morph into a Pierce type, or is it best to Melo while his value is still high?

Pierce just finished his 18th year in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers after stints in Brooklyn and Washington following his storied career in Boston. Once the team's lone scoring option in Boston, Pierce transformed himself into a premiere two-way forward, who fit in well with Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen forming a championship team.

Pierce paced himself during that time and always made sure he was playing his best basketball in the spring as the Celtics surged into the NBA playoffs. While his scoring dropped, his overall game improved and it allowed for him to maintain his body for the marathon of the NBA season.

Pierce's last season of scoring over 20 points per game was in 2008-09 with the Celtics when he was 31. From ages 32-35 in Boston, Pierce averaged 18.8 points, while focusing more on passing and defense, which allowed him to play at an incredibly high and competitive level before running into Melo's Knicks in the 2013 playoffs.

It's not exactly an "apples-to-apples" comparison because the Celtics were very much a veteran team, but Pierce's leadership and selflessness helped Rajon Rondo become an all-world point guard. His willingness to adapt allowed for him to play at a really high level, on good teams, thus extending his career.

Pierce has played in 86 playoff games since turning 32, a clear sign that his value was significant to teams focused on competing in the postseason, something the Knicks have not done since 2013.

What makes approaching Anthony in trade discussions such a difficult task for Jackson is the progress Carmelo has made this past season in all facets of his game. Many consider this past season to be Anthony's most complete of his career.

Sources close to Jackson said he was less than enamored with his star player after their first season together, but that changed completely this past season with Melo's commitment to mental preparation and his play in the triangle and that's only become stronger with his mentorship of rookie Kristaps Porzingis.

Anthony's surgically repaired knee seemed to respond well, as he was able to log minutes, but wondering if he'll ever be 100 percent is certainly on Jackson's mind. There are a lot of big-time questions for Phil to decide upon and by far the two most pressing involve his star player.

Granting him the input that Anthony has requested at this point could cloud Jackson's judgment at a time where he needs full clarity. The Knicks are on the right track, but they need to keep their momentum going with leadership on the sidelines and on the floor, two positions that aren't solidified at the moment.

Will Jackson be willing to bet on Melo morphing into a more well-rounded player moving forward, or is it time to shop his star forward and focus on building the team around Porzingis. Knicks fans hope those answers present themselves during Jackson's hiatus. They are critical to the next phase of the team's rebuild.


Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt in the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. (Isaiah J. Downing)
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt in the first quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. (Isaiah J. Downing)

As the Knicks continue to look for their next head coach, former players and coaches from David Blatt's days as a coach with Maccabi Tel Aviv had positive things to say about the coach, reports Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News

With an approach that made his players think critically, Blatt and Maccabi Tel Aviv had plenty of successes in 2014, including the Euroleague title. 

More importantly, Blatt successfully ran the triangle offense, which is something Phil Jackson has been adamant about his next coach being able to do. Derrick Sharp, an assistant with Blatt in Tel Aviv, said the triangle was an important part of the team's game plan. 

"We ran the triangle those years at Maccabi when we were winning the championships. And I didn't even realize it was the triangle," Sharp said to the Daily News. "Overload on one side, elbow action on the weak side. We ran it all the time. It was our go-to play." 

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Lost in all the hyperbole that "the triangle" as an offense is somehow antiquated is the simple fact that many of its principles exist in so many coaching philosophies. Blatt and Phil Jackson are certainly "simpatico" and Blatt's adaptability would check another box for Phil.

In my mind, Blatt's ability to develop young bigs is another element that makes him a fit. He'd do wonders with Kristaps Porzingis. Seems like more check marks are starting to add up in Blatt's ledger.

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