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

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Lost in the Steve Kerr-to-New York saga from 2014 is a lesson that Phil Jackson won't forget: Trust those closest to you.

Those close to Phil, including his current and former players, and even those in the media, will tell you that he's obsessed with learning. They will say by far his biggest hobby is reading, and that stimulating, intellectual conversations excite him tremendously. That quest to learn and grow is the antithesis of the narrative that surrounds him currently, pushed by those who believe he's too stubborn to hire anyone outside his triangle-oriented "Ring of Trust."

The fact is, Phil went outside this deep, inner circle in 2014 when he pushed to hire Steve Kerr, current Golden State head coach. Kerr was a player for five years under Jackson in Chicago, but also spent four campaigns with the San Antonio Spurs. Kerr never served as an assistant under Jackson and isn't considered by anyone as one of his disciples, even though the two are very close. If you recall, during that hiring process many pundits were shocked to hear his name come up for all of those reasons. 

This is an important hiring for Jackson, who wants more than anything for his last chapter in basketball to conclude with rebuilding the franchise he started with, and to pay homage to his mentor, Red Holzman, and to the loyal Knicks fan base. 

Phil's inner circle is built on trust, which is why Kurt Rambis has stayed so close to the situation. The last time Jackson walked the hiring road that trust was shattered by Kerr, who leveraged the Knicks situation to land a better job with the Warriors. Kerr took the Knicks all the way into deep contract terms while negotiating with Golden State, a shrewd business move that ultimately paid off for him, leaving Phil with having to hire his number two candidate in Derek Fisher. 

With prized rookie Kristaps Porzingis now in tow as the cornerstone of the franchise moving forward -- hopefully for the next 15 years -- Phil cannot afford to make that same mistake again.  

If Rambis were Phil's number one choice as a head coach he'd have the job already. Reports of several candidates' names have been making the rounds and the aforementioned interest in intellect is why he's seriously considering hiring David Blatt to be part of the Knicks organization.

Blatt, who met with the Knicks a week ago and impressed both Jackson and Steve Mills, has reported decided to interview for the Sacramento Kings job, according to ESPN. 

What's clear is that Phil is taking his time, with every intention to not only interview candidates, but also make sure that they don't leverage him for a better position at the last minute, like Kerr did with Golden State. Rambis, like Fisher, could certainly still end up being the head coach of the Knicks next year as a fallback option, which strikes fear in the heart of fans everywhere because of his career win-loss record. 

One big win that Rambis does have in his ledger, though, is Phil's trust and that really does go a long way in all of this. Phil won't make the same mistake twice.


Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt looks downcourt as his team plays Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. (Jaime Valdez )
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt looks downcourt as his team plays Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. (Jaime Valdez )

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Last week, the Knicks had a very positive meeting with David Blatt. In an ocean muddled with triangle offense disciples, it was refreshing to see Phil Jackson extend his reach and start fishing for someone considered outside his own inner circle of trust. 

It just so happens that perhaps excluding Tom Thibodeau, Blatt still stands tall as one of the better coaching candidates to have been available in this early offseason. If New York is able to secure him as their next head coach, there will be no love lost between the team and its respective fan base. Blatt would be a great fit and a smart hire for many reasons. 

As some of the Knicks' other preferred candidates continue to get swept off the board rather quickly, what are Jackson and Co. waiting for? 

With the completion of the first round of the NBA playoffs, premature loses for teams with high expectations can lead to subsequent firings of quality coaches. As such, Frank Vogel (who was an advanced scout for Phil Jackson's Lakers in 2005-06) and his top assistant Nate McMillan (for whom Jackson has respect for, according to the New York Post) could become available if the Pacers choose to revamp their staff. Though his team is still competing in the postseason, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts' option for next season is yet to be picked up.

Thus, more quality coaches are becoming available to add to the mix, if Jackson desires. But how long of a wait is too long?

The more the Knicks delay in naming their next head coach, the more opportunity Blatt has to explore other options and take more interviews. If he's pretty much as good as it's going to get, why risk losing him?

If the Knicks allow Blatt to venture off and another team swoops in to secure him, they might be in trouble. Whereas the two sides are said to maintain mutual respect and interest, it's unknown how much consideration the Knicks would receive from the additional candidates in comparison to other current openings. 

New York shouldn't want to play the waiting game much longer, especially if Blatt gets impatient and/or finds a better opportunity. Having to hire Kurt Rambis as the fallback option isn't worth the risk of looking at coaches like Vogel, McMillan, etc. There's a very little margin of effort here, especially at this point. 

The Knicks need to hire Blatt before it's too late, or at the very least, make the Rambis hiring official instead so the question is stopped being asked. 


Knicks F Kristaps Porzingis will not play for Latvia during this summer's Olympics, he announced Monday.

The Knicks have been hoping Porzingis will train with them this summer, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.

Porzingis, 20, averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks while playing in 72 games for the Knicks this season, during what was his rookie campaign.

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Porzingis is recovering from his first marathon year with the Knicks and the organization wants him to focus on his next season in the NBA. So this is great news, as it shows Porzingis and the Knicks are on the same page.

With an offseason dedicated to weight training, Porzingis' weaknesses should become strengths, which is bad news for the rest of the NBA. The faster he gets stronger, the quicker he'll become one of the NBA's premiere players night in and night out.

I'm also told Porzingis is leaning towards not playing Summer League ball with the Knicks in Orlando, instead planning to focus on his conditioning.

Tags: Kristaps Porzingis

 (Jaime Valdez )
(Jaime Valdez )

The Knicks aren't considering hiring David Blatt as an assistant coach, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Blatt interviewed in New York with Knicks president Phil Jackson last week, and is "still in the mix" for their head coaching job, according to Berman.

It was reported this weekend that talks between Blatt and the Knicks were progressing, though Berman indicated that Kurt Rambis is still the favorite for their head coaching job.

Blatt is also scheduled to interview with the Kings for their opening at head coach.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

The good news here is that with Blatt interviewing for other head coaching vacancies, the Knicks realize offering him a seat on Rambis' bench won't be enough. The bad news is that according to The Post, Rambis is still considered the frontrunner for the job.

If New York likes Blatt that much, it's time to offer him the job as head coach. It's clear he isn't going to come to the Big Apple as an assistant. That said, Phil Jackson could get the best of both worlds if he makes the right move; Rambis is obviously much more likely to accept a position under Blatt than the contrary.

As someone well-versed in the triangle and a Jackson confidant, Rambis adds value. Unfortunately, much of that value will be negated if Jackson's own loyalty to his friend causes the Knicks to lose out on Blatt completely.

Even this early in the offseason, the Knicks have allowed very solid coaching candidates to slip away. Surprisingly enough, they still have an opportunity to reel in a coach as impressive as Blatt. They can't afford to squander it, because the alternatives aren't promising.

If Blatt is their guy, they need to go in for the kill before it's too late. If Jackson only has eyes for Rambis (as short-sighted as that might be), there's no use creating the perception that other candidates are receiving consideration. Hire someone either way, sooner rather than later.


David Blatt (David Richard/USA Today Sports Images)
David Blatt (David Richard/USA Today Sports Images)

Former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt will interview for the Sacramento Kings' head coaching vacancy, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

Blatt, 56, was fired midway through the 2015-16 season despite coaching the Cavaliers to a 30-11 record. He has been a candidate to become the next New York Knicks coach.

The Kings, who fired head coach George Karl in April, are also looking at Knicks legend and current Charlotte Hornets assistant Patrick Ewing, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

It's normal for an out-of-work coaching candidate to explore various possibilities and keep all doors open. Blatt speaking with Sacramento is a mere example of this.

That said, perhaps such an interview should put pressure on Phil Jackson and co. to make the man a formal offer (and subsequently hire him) sooner, rather than later.

The Knicks have their respective question marks with regard to the future, but there are plenty of factors that make the team's head coaching vacancy a desirable one. The job is undoubtedly better than the one currently open in Sacramento.

It's important to compare apples to apples and keep things consistent. With Blatt interviewing and/or garnering consideration for other head coaching vacancies, it should be a clear-cut sign that an offer to be Kurt Rambis' top assistant in New York isn't going to cut it.

Not only is Blatt more qualified than Rambis to serve as head coach, but he's without much doubt the best candidate available left. Unless the Knicks have plans to hire Rambis, they shouldn't waste time allowing Blatt to interview for other positions. It's time to reel him in.


David Blatt and the Knicks are reportedly close to a deal. (Jesse Johnson/USA Today Sports Images)
David Blatt and the Knicks are reportedly close to a deal. (Jesse Johnson/USA Today Sports Images)

On the heels of the Knicks'  meeting last Monday with coaching candidate David Blatt going so well, it appears the sides have made "progress" in having Blatt join the Knicks organization, according to sources.

Not only is Phil Jackson beyond "impressed" with the ex-Cleveland Cavaliers coach's "intelligence level", but a deal for Blatt to join the Knicks organization in some capacity "is close."

"It's close. Things have progressed since Monday," a source close to Blatt said.

The capacity of Blatt's potential role is unclear, but the notion that he'd join the organization as an assistant to Kurt Rambis may not be of interest to Blatt, which would seem to be the missing piece here.

Rambis could assume his role as a coordinator to Blatt, a role that he mastered under Jackson in Los Angeles, and work with Blatt in instilling the "system of basketball" that Jackson envisions, But it's uncertain if Blatt would be willing to accept an assistant role to Rambis. Blatt, I'm told, would certainly be receptive to Jackson's input and his adaptability is reportedly one of his strengths, if he were, indeed, named head coach.

"Smart people understand and have adaptability," one source said when asked if they thought Blatt could fit into Jackson's "ring of trust."  

"Phil and David are both extremely smart individuals. David would make it work."

There are better assistant coaching positions out there. Blatt could fill the vacancy on Steve Kerr's bench that Luke Walton left in Golden State after taking the Los Angeles Lakers job. Blatt was a serious candidate for that role in 2014 before taking the Cavaliers position. He's also rumored to be considering going back overseas, according to international reporter David Pick.

While the capacity remains unclear, what is abundantly clear is that Blatt has made a distinct and significant impression on Jackson, who would be wise to add someone of Blatt's pedigree to the Knicks organization.

 


Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt looks on during the first half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. (Jesse Johnson)
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt looks on during the first half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. (Jesse Johnson)

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The Lakers sent shockwaves throughout the NBA last night, hiring Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton as their head coach. The move, I'm told, clears the way for the Knicks to hire David Blatt, whose meeting with Phil Jackson and Steve Mills on Monday significantly impressed the Knicks president.

"Phil absolutely loved Blatt's intelligence," a source with knowledge of the conversation said. "Can't stop talking about it. He's singing Blatt's praises to everyone. Phil's a tough grader when it comes to intelligence. It takes a lot to impress him."

The overriding narrative is that Kurt Rambis is the heavy favorite to have the interim tag removed from the title, but I haven't been getting that sense. Rambis, who Jackson is very close with, is involved in the process, but I'm told that the overwhelming majority of the players didn't sing Rambis' praises in their exit interviews.

Rambis is extremely intelligent and would serve a significant role either as an assistant or in the front office. He was an exceptional coordinator for Phil with the Lakers, in a similar manner that Tex Winter was for Jackson's championship teams in Chicago. That role seems to fit Rambis best, and would allow him to continue to share Jackson's vision and trust.

Blatt seems to have entered into Jackson's trust circle following their meeting, which is a major sign that Phil is really giving a lot of thought to hiring him. Blatt refused to discuss any coaching situations, including Los Angeles, when he came on as a guest on a local Atlanta radio station earlier this week.

Blatt could fill the vacancy on Steve Kerr's bench that Walton left in Golden State. Blatt was a serious candidate for that role in 2014 before taking the Cavaliers position. He's also rumored to be considering going back overseas, according to international reporter David Pick.

Again, based on everything I'm hearing, Blatt has really made a great impression on Jackson. Bringing Blatt on board would be a smooth transition based on his relationship with former Princeton teammate and current executive vice president and general manager Steve Mills. The Walton hiring takes Blatt out of consideration for one of the jobs he was mentioned as a candidate for. His meeting with the Knicks Monday inches him one step closer to filling a vacancy here.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Blatt would be a great fit in New York for many reasons. It would be unfortunate to think the Knicks let Walton slip away, unless of course, they firmly believe Blatt is their guy.

 The fact that the meeting went well and that Blatt left a positive, lasting impression on Jackson is very good news. If the Knicks have a steady vision and such a vision includes Blatt, that's a solid reflection upon Jackson's judgment. To date, he's displayed a certain level of stubbornness, appearing apprehensive to entertain non-triangle briefed candidates.

 On the surface, Walton heading to Los Angeles (after placing Jackson on hold until after the playoffs) might suggest that Jackson's own guy slighted him. But perhaps Jackson has eyes only for Blatt at this point. The Lakers' hire of Walton arguably makes the Knicks' potentially more desired candidate (Blatt) all the more available. That's a better development than "losing out" on Walton.

 Jackson is making a choice - if that's the case, then it's time to go in for the kill and secure Blatt. Retaining Rambis as an assistant serves a purpose, but hiring Blatt is a must.


Golden State Warriors interim coach Luke Walton questions a call during the second half of a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Golden State Warriors won 125-94. (David Banks)
Golden State Warriors interim coach Luke Walton questions a call during the second half of a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Golden State Warriors won 125-94. (David Banks)

Luke Walton is coming home to rebuild the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers reached an agreement Friday night with the Golden State assistant to become their head coach, dramatically choosing a leader for their new era after Kobe Bryant.

The Lakers grabbed Walton just five days after they fired Byron Scott, who led the 16-time NBA champions to the two worst seasons in franchise history.

Walton spent nine seasons with the Lakers, winning two championship rings as a smart, steady player. Now the 36-year-old Southern California native returns to become the 26th head coach in franchise history.

"We're excited to bring Luke back to Los Angeles, where we feel he's going to start an outstanding coaching career," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "He's one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game and we feel fortunate that he'll be leading the on-court future of our team."

Walton will join the Lakers after the Warriors' playoff run. That could take several weeks, since Golden State is headed for the second round with designs on a second straight championship.

Walton became a top candidate for coaching jobs earlier this season when he led Golden State to a 39-4 record as the interim head coach while Steve Kerr was sidelined by a back injury. Walton coolly stepped in and coaching the Warriors to an NBA-record 24-0 start before ceding the job back to Kerr. >> Read more

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

When Walton reportedly put Phil Jackson on hold until after the playoffs, one would have liked to think he was sincere about his interest in the Knicks' vacancy, despite being committed to his current duties with the Warriors.

Following this development, it's clear the Los Angeles job intrigued him more. Aside from having direct ties to the Lakers from his playing days, Walton is known to be a West Coast guy. What's more, he'll arguably have more freedom to do things his way in LA. This is an opportunity to really start fresh with the Lakers' plethora of young talent, all the while putting his own stamp on this team's prospective future. 

He wouldn't quite have had the same exact opportunity with Phil Jackson overseeing things as planned in New York.

Walton was non-committal following a conversation with Jackson just weeks ago. That said, Jackson likely could have been more persuasive when it came to swaying Walton and/or receiving permission from Golden State for a formal interview, if so desired.

Walton likely would have been a strong fit for the Knicks, but at this point, perhaps Jackson and Co. have stronger desires for another candidate. If their meeting with David Blatt went as well as reported this past Monday, they could very well believe he's a better man for the job. That's perfectly fine.

Having said that, Kurt Rambis isn't the best fallback option. With Walton off the table, it's time for New York to have all guns blazing and go after Blatt as hard as they can. It's time to secure him as the next head coach of the Knicks, especially with the comparable options dwindling away rather quickly.


Carmelo Anthony, standing next to interim coach Kurt Rambis, who is also a candidate for the position full time, would like input in the Knicks personal decisions. ( Adam Hunger)
Carmelo Anthony, standing next to interim coach Kurt Rambis, who is also a candidate for the position full time, would like input in the Knicks personal decisions. ( Adam Hunger)

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Here's a question for sports fans, and Knicks fans specifically. At what point is it actually acceptable to give a star player "input" on personal decisions?

Marinate on that for a second.

What if I told you that one of the stipulations of Phil Jackson's agreement with James Dolan was that he didn't want any input from Anthony, and more specifically the agency that represents him? What if one of his major stances was that he didn't want any outside influences impacting his goal of building a winning culture and environment in his final chapter of his basketball career.

Would you knock Phil for being stubborn?

The reality of the Carmelo Anthony Era is this. He's had a major impact on all decisions since he's been here. He struggled to conform to Mike D'Antoni's offense. He made sure that the team rescued J.R. Smith from China. He shared an agent with Mike Woodson. He campaigned for more veterans and, according to an extremely passive-aggressive Amar'e Stoudemire, he battled anyone internally who didn't make it all about him.  

No one has been more supportive of Anthony's tenure in New York than me. I think the team is finally, since the trade, building around him properly. Stoudemire wasn't a fit. Neither was Tyson Chandler for the most part, and neither were the likes of Raymond Felton. What Anthony has to show for having "input" isn't much, which is always the number one criticism. The number of times he's made it out of the first round continue to speak volumes.

This past year was a big one for me. Analytic heads laud Anthony for what they claim was his "best season" as a Knick, which ironically didn't add up in the wins column. By my count, Anthony had about a dozen chances to close the game, or validate the big money, and didn't. My preseason prediction for the Knicks, in year two of their rebuild around Anthony, was somewhere between 38-42 wins. My rationale for this was that they were good enough to keep games close and had Anthony to close games at the end. You know, like this

It is in these moments where Melo gets paid for his "input," and where the Knicks organization need it the most.

I was told by someone close to Jackson several months back that Anthony drew the ire of Phil because he didn't hold up his end of the bargain from a preparation standpoint heading into training camp in 2014. He felt that Melo was being "brought down" by the "distractions on the team" around him. I think we can surmise who those players were considering they are no longer on the team and didn't make it through the initial season. Melo, I'm told, got the message and came into this training camp a "totally different and prepared player." This impressed Phil to the point that he concluded he got through to Anthony, and that they established trust.

This off season will be a big one in terms of maintaining the trust between both sides, and Anthony has consistently maintained that he wants to be here and he's trusting the process. If that is indeed the case he needs to let Jackson decide who is going to lead the team from the sidelines going forward. Who that person is, still remains to be seen. The names continuing to be mentioned are David Blatt, Mark Jackson, Luke Walton and, of course, Kurt Rambis.

As long as Anthony continues to build his leadership skills within the locker room, bonds with his youthful, and maturing, teammates, and is productive in the waning moments of games when he's needed the most - he's earned his contract.

Off the court, his input hasn't resulted in much, if any, success. Jackson was brought here to build a winning environment because of the failures of the past, so it would behoove all parties involved to let him continue with his vision.

The reality is that the Knicks organization has failed to provide more wins because constant unrest has led to panic, and that panic has led to continual change. You can't win with constant change. In Jackson's first two seasons, they've made significant progress with player talent and locker room chemistry. This is the off season to keep building on top of the foundation, which The Vertical's Bobby Marks refers to as the "second floor."

Knicks fans have already seen what Melo's off court input can do and, let's face it, it's the reason why Phil is here in the first place. 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

 (Jesse Johnson)
(Jesse Johnson)

David Blatt reportedly met with the Knicks to discuss their head coaching vacancy on Monday, but for some reason, the idea of hiring him as an assistant on Kurt Rambis' prospective staff continues to get floated around through the media.

Even the notion that Phil Jackson (along with Steve Mills) met with Blatt is a positive development. It's proof that Jackson's coaching staff isn't limited to his previously identified triangle offense disciples.

Of course, the triangle offense figures to be a part of the Knicks' future, but there's no reason why an "outsider" can't embrace such systematic elements and work together with Jackson to find a great balance and put a successful product on the floor.

Speaking with Blatt suggests Jackson is keeping an open mind.

Bringing Blatt in as an assistant was not discussed on Monday, according to multiple reports. As it is, such a suggestion is disrespectful to Blatt. The veteran coach not only led the Cavaliers to an NBA Finals appearance last season, but also boasts a rather successful and impressive coaching resume --- one that seemingly kills that of Rambis' track record as head coach.

Obviously, when a coach is out of work, one would like to think they'd prefer to get right back into the game. Spending time away, exploring broadcast opportunities, etc. can only be so fulfilling. Perhaps Blatt would accept an assistant post if offered, but that would set both he and Rambis up for disaster.

There'd be too much pressure on Rambis to make no mistakes, because the possibility of letting a more qualified coach in Blatt take over would be looming over him all season long. What's more, Blatt's presence under Rambis would likely begin to dictate a Jackson vs. Mills power struggle debate in the media.

While Jackson certainly respects Blatt, Rambis is "his" guy, and Blatt is Mills' friend and former college teammate.

Interestingly enough, perhaps the Blatt vs. Rambis debate isn't all black and white. Blatt is surely the better choice for many reasons, but it can't be denied Rambis comes with a side of Jackson. The biggest thing Rambis has going for him is his willingness to embrace Jackson's guiding hand. The Knicks' president would likely be more influential in the team's coaching matters if Rambis were given the head coaching job.

Hiring Blatt as head coach would go a long way towards proving Jackson is more committed to the Knicks' success than cementing his own individual legacy. If he keeps an open mind and doesn't let pride get in the way, the two can go hand in hand. Embracing an outsider like Blatt and deviating from the triangle (and/or his inner circle of confidants) at least the smallest bit wouldn't be a terrible thing.

Keeping Rambis as an assistant isn't a horrible concept, either. He's qualified for that job, but his loyalty to Jackson should only get him so far. Tabbing him over Blatt as head coach would arguably be an abuse of power by Jackson, but it wouldn't be in the best interest of the franchise. This should be about helping New York realize success, not accommodating Jackson's inner circle.

But if Jackson is truly dedicated to allowing Blatt to make a positive impact in New York, he has to commit right away. Trust, respect, and cooperation have to be present. If Jackson keeps an open mind, a collaborative effort from the get-go will work much better than creating a potential power struggle all around with Blatt as an assistant.

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Missing out on the opportunity to hire a brilliant basketball mind like David Blatt at this stage of the Knicks rebuild would be a huge mistake.

Blatt's attention to detail and his leadership abilities are proven, world-class and very much needed skills within Phil's basketball operations.

When you have the chance to bring a David Blatt into your organization, you have to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

 (Jayne Kamin-Oncea)
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

The Warriors have given assistant coach Luke Walton permission to interview with the Lakers, reports Sam Amick of USA Today.

Additionally, according to Lute Olson, if Walton leaves the Warriors it won't be for a team on the East Coast.

"It's not going to be on the East Coast," he added. "He doesn't want to go back there. He spent some time in Cleveland (as a player from 2011 to 2013), and that was enough."

Walton recently told the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami that while he has expressed the desire to become a head coach in the future, he is "comfortable" where he currently is and does not plan to rush into anything.

Walton has spoken informally with Knicks president Phil Jackson and that the conversation was not considered a formal interview.


David Blatt makes a call during the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Quicken Loans Arena. (Ken Blaze)
David Blatt makes a call during the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Quicken Loans Arena. (Ken Blaze)

David Blatt was in New York to meet with Phil Jackson on Monday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

Blatt's name has been constantly in the mix to take over the Knicks heac coaching job.

Blatt was head coach of Cleveland for one and a half seasons, posting a 83-40 record.

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Interviewing Blatt this early in the process shows you how much respect the Knicks organization has for him, which I mentioned was the case last week. When you factor in the reports about meeting with Rambis, it's clear that the decision on who will coach the Knicks going forward is heating up.

Blatt's name has also been rumored in association with the Lakers vacancy, and losing out on the opportunity to add a basketball IQ of his caliber would be unfortunate for the Knicks at this stage in their rebuild. It is my understanding that Blatt would work "simpatico" with the Knicks brass, helping build their desired system of basketball.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

At this point, hiring Blatt would be ideal for the Knicks. He's not only someone who can work with and appease (if necessary) Jackson, but also think for himself. He's had proven success across the globe, and one would think Jackson respects his basketball IQ and resume. 

Perhaps a coach of Blatt's caliber would garner more respect from Jackson. When it comes to those coaching candidates in his inner circle (the likes of Derek Fisher, Brian Shaw, Luke Walton and Kurt Rambis), Jackson probably likes that he can manipulate his way into pushing his influence and weight around. Whereas Jackson could seemingly overstep a presumed boundary with Rambis and/or another one of his triangle offense disciples, he'd have to give Blatt room to work his magic. Perhaps the former Cavaliers coach has earned himself that right, more so than one of Jackson's confidants.

Upon getting hired in Cleveland, Blatt allowed the organization to hand-pick and craft his coaching staff. He would likely want a little bit more leeway in New York, but such flexibility would allow room for the likes of Rambis, Jim Cleamons, and maybe even Rasheed Hazzard to stay on the staff while Blatt brings in two or three of his own assistants. Again, this would proof of a healthy working relationship between Jackson and Blatt.

Hiring Blatt could bode well for Jackson's dream of the triangle offense leading to success in New York. That said, he obviously isn't 'Phil's guy,' so to speak. As such, his ability to adapt could lead to Blatt being the head coach of the future, even when Jackson departs. After all, Blatt and Steve Mills were college teammates at Princeton. 

If Blatt comes with Mills' recommendation (and does well), that could also win Mills major brownie points, with regard to potentially regaining his President title when Jackson's time is up. 


Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Looking at this offseason's free agent crop, the Knicks would, at best, have an outside chance at signing the players (namely Mike Conley in their case) who are likely to demand a maximum contract. Even if there were in fact mutual interest, the likes of Arron Afflalo and Derrick Williams would both need to decline their upcoming player options first, in order for New York to have such flexibility.

Whereas Kurt Rambis ensured Afflalo felt frustrated, isolated, and unwanted by season's end, one would have to assume he opts out. The same can't be said with such certainty about Williams though. 

Though the 24 year old's minutes were sporadic at times, he only continued to prove his worth when given the opportunity. Williams was an electric spark plug who provided the Knicks with instant offense off the bench time and time again. What's more, he demonstrated a great understanding for how and when to get the home crowd involved, sparking a change in momentum with some high energy plays and/or eye-popping slam-dunks. The forward's attacking prowess, complete with an ability to cash in at the free-throw line with ease, is uncanny. His defensive effort sometimes leaves much to be desired, but it's up to the coach to develop a steady balance in the team's rotation. A good coach knows when offensive fire power is needed, and when it's time to pull a player like Williams out in favor of a more defensive-minded guy instead.

His near $4.6 million player option may be considered a tad pricey by some, but Williams' value to New York this past season was clear. Still at a very young age, the Knicks should consider retaining the former number two overall pick as part of their core. If the team's goal is to bolster their roster by filling necessary voids with smart and reasonable signings, then no splash with a bigger name signing is needed. Thus, Williams' salary shouldn't make an impact when targeting the more appropriate players this summer.

In today's NBA market, salaries can be overblown as players are overpaid constantly. When taking that into consideration, Williams' respective earning isn't all that unreasonable. For what he provides, it's good value. Phil Jackson should be given credit for this smart signing, especially if the Knicks have made Williams comfortable enough that he opts in for another year.

There may be bigger names out there to chase, but there's something to be said about developing roster continuity. Williams should be a part of that. Keeping him in the fold shouldn't keep the Knicks from targeting the players they should; just perhaps from chasing the players they stand less a chance with. There's no reason to waste time and risk losing a player like Williams in the process. They should be encouraging him to opt in, or at least be ready to re-sign him. 


 (Ken Blaze)
(Ken Blaze)

While the Knicks had concerns about Tom Thibodeau wanting too much control, Ian Begley of ESPN reports that the head coach would have accepted a coaching job without a front office title to coach the Knicks. " 'He would have worked for Phil,' " said a league source with knowledge of the Knicks/Thibodeau situation.

Although Jackson showed no desire to bring Thibodeau to New York, there were others in the organization interested in the possibility of Thibodeau coaching the Knicks. Owner James Dolan was "intrigued" by the idea of hiring Thibodeau as the next head coach, league sources told Begley. 

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Even if Thibodeau would have accepted a lesser role without control, Phil Jackson's own stubbornness to this point suggests that the two would not have worked well together. He not only wants the Knicks' next head coach to run elements of the triangle, but also be open to his continued input when and where he sees fit.

The irony here is that much has been discussed about the new Timberwolves coach's desire for control. There should be more concern over Jackson's need for control...over his coaching staff. That could be overwhelming to a coach like Thibodeau, who has clearly proven his worth and respective ability to do a solid job on his own without an executive breathing down his neck.

Kurt Rambis seems open to embracing Jackson full on, not only because he has similar beliefs, but likely because he wouldn't receive a chance to be a head coach elsewhere in the NBA. This type of arrangement would be ideal for each party, whereas Thibodeau saw the grass was greener elsewhere.

Jackson's choice to turn his back on even as much as a more thorough discussion is unfortunate. That said, his intensions (of being an overbearing boss, to say the least) are clear.

Previous reports and reaction...

The Knicks did their due diligence on Tom Thibodeau, but were scared off by the impression that after his infighting with the Bulls, Thibodeau wanted to have a major input in all personnel matters, even the offbeat issues regarding the ability of the medical staff to impose minutes restrictions on certain players, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills did not believe Thibodeau could fit in with the two of them in New York. Similarly, the Los Angeles Lakers did not have interest in Thibodeau over the same concerns and hence were in no rush to fire Byron Scott until Sunday.

Thibodeau ended up signing a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he will be introduced as the Wolves' president of basketball operations and head coach. He signed a five-year deal worth about $40 million with Minnesota last week.

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As we know the Knicks did do their diligence on Thibodeau, but it was clear to them that the former Bulls coach wanted control. That position simply wasn't available in the Knicks front office, who are dealing with assertions of decision making capabilities from Carmelo Anthony. The issues with training staff over minutes restrictions raise a major red flag here, considering the team has to be very careful with the minutes of Kristaps Porzinigis as job one is to ensure a safe and healthy development going forward.

 


 (Nelson Chenault)
(Nelson Chenault)

Free agent PG Mike Conley is putting pressure on the Grizzlies to sign him and additional free agents, reports Peter Edmiston of WHBQ.

Conley said on Feb. 10 that he would be open to signing with the Knicks.

Additionally, Mike Mazzeo of ESPN cited a source at that time who said Conley would be more receptive to playing for the Knicks than most think.

Conley also weighed in on whether the firing of Derek Fisher would have any impact on his decision.

"I don't think it will," Conley said. "At the end of the day, I'll give everybody the same attention, regardless of the situation, and just hear everything out."

Conley, 28, averaged 15.3 points, 6.1 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game for the Grizzlies during the regular season.

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It is well-known around the league that Conley wants a max contract and that the Knicks would be on top of his list should he decide to leave Memphis. But the Grizzlies' front office, most notably Chris Wallace, have been adamant that they will re-sign their oft-injured point guard.

This situation bears watching, especially if Conley continues to make talent demands, considering the amount of money they've already spent on Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and in trading for Lance Stephenson. Stay tuned.


 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

Here are four things we learned from former Knick Landry Fields on the TKB Podcast...

  1. The dynamics of the team changed after the Carmelo Anthony trade to NY.
  2. Landry thinks Melo would have signed with the Knicks if the team hadn't traded for him the season before.
  3. If the triangle system is "done right", it can work in today's NBA.
  4. Landry loves how Melo has transitioned into being a leader this past season.


 (Tim Fuller)
(Tim Fuller)

While the Knicks have been connected to David Blatt and Kurt Rambis to fill their head coaching job, Tom Thibodeau has agreed to a five-year deal with the Timberwolves to be their president and head coach.

Thibodeau's agent reached out to the Knicks to let them know he was very interested in their head coaching job, but Phil Jackson showed no interest, according to reporter Peter Vecsey

Thibodeau was also interested in going to the Lakers, though they didn't make a serious push for him, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

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This position, an ambitious market that Thibodeau and his team aggressively sought after, was not available in New York because of the posts held by Phil Jackson and Steve Mills.

Had the Knicks hired, say, Jeff Van Gundy instead of Phil, then Thibodeau would have been considered. But his ambitions, combined with the lack of availabilities within the Knicks organization, both excluded him from consideration.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Thibodeau has a long history with the Knicks dating back to his days as an assistant under Jeff Van Gundy. In most recent seasons, he's risen up as an NBA championship winning assistant, a relatively successful NBA head coach, and Team USA assistant coach. New York has garnered criticism for not giving him that oh so coveted head coaching post before Chicago did.

He long deserved it, is a defensive-minded guy, and knows what it tastes like to experience success in the Big Apple. Giving him a chance years ago, while the team was struggling, might have very well changed their fortunes a bit. Perhaps they wouldn't be in the position they are in now had they opted to enlist Thibodeau to help them right the ship. At the very least, bringing him "home" would have made for a nice story.

According to multiple reports, the Knicks had an opportunity to do that now, but passed again. To be fair, it's clear Phil Jackson doesn't have the same type of loyalty to Thibodeau that others in the organization might. Thibodeau is a very intense personality whose strong perspectives didn't always mesh well with Bulls' brass. And Jackson has friends in that organization.

Jackson wants a head coach who will run the triangle, and while Thibodeau is known for his defense, he actually runs plenty elements of the offense, according to BBall Breakdown.

Perhaps Thibodeau would have been open to collaborating with Jackson if the Knicks' president had more of an open mind. The former Bulls' coach opted for more power in Minnesota, but maybe all he would have required was some leeway, cooperation, and understanding in New York.

Thibodeau has a reputation for being too aggressive. What's more, he has a habit of overplaying his team's more talented players (see Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah in Chicago). But it would make sense that he probably has one big fan in New York.

Carmelo Anthony recently stated that he wants more say regarding the Knicks' future plans pertaining to personnel and the next head coach. Maintaining a strong relationship with Thibodeau from their time together on Team USA, there's undoubtedly mutual admiration between the two. One has to wonder if Thibodeau was Anthony's suggestion during exit interviews. And if he was, why Jackson would turn his back on the possibility so quickly.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) drives to the hoop against New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (right) during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer)
Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) drives to the hoop against New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (right) during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer)

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Bobby Marks, a longtime executive with the Nets, provides extraordinary details that are focused on the inner-workings of player deals and organizational decisions for The Vertical. His note last summer on Jamal Crawford not being able to be traded to the Knicks, despite reports to the contrary provided tremendous clarity during a whirlwind offseason.

Another important note was the gem Marks reported providing critical clarity on Carmelo Anthony's contract trade kicker, which adds $9 million dollars to any trade that includes Anthony, as well as an ensuing cap hit for the team that absorbs Anthony's contract. For a team like Cleveland or the Clippers, who are well above the cap anyway, and have gone "all-in" on title hopes over the next few years, that added salary likely wouldn't matter. However, that may to other teams interested in Anthony's services, thus making trading Anthony a challenge even after he decides to wave his no-trade clause this summer.

While taking the temperature of Anthony's market is important and falling in line after hiring a head coach, another extremely critical part of the Knicks rebuild is what Marks referred to today as "adding the second floor" in Marks' latest piece for The Vertical:

"The foundation was set when the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant and Willy Hernangomez last June, and the "first floor" was finished three weeks later with the free-agent signing of Robin Lopez.

Now comes the hard part for Knicks management. It must make the pieces work while adding a "second floor" of talent. The Knicks must continue to get better while also having some roster stability and flexibility."

The biggest part of that, to me, is perimeter support and specifically adding speed at the two and three positions. Looking at the Knicks stats, their front court improved drastically, as you'd expect with the return of Anthony from injury, plus the addition of Lopez and Porzingis quickly made them a vastly-improved front court that could both defend the rim and close possessions. The Knicks finished 10th in total rebounding, improving from 29th in 2015 according to basketball-reference.com. 

With the front court intact, it is imperative that the team add athleticism and speed, particularly in transition, where the Knicks were absolutely dreadful last year. Tony Wroten, a rim-attacking specialist in Philadelphia before a knee injury derailed his career, should help, as his 4.90 average speed as measured by the NBA is one of the league's best, but the Knicks need more veteran legs to constantly put pressure on the defense and stop opponents in their own transition game. 

Two names worth considering are free agents who fit Phil Jackson's philosophy of system players are, in my opinion, are Evan Turner of the Boston Celtics and Kent Bazemore of the Atlanta Hawks.

The versatile Bazemore, 26, has been at the center of the Hawks resurgence, was 18th in the NBA this year in field goals made off drives (1.7) one spot behind Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors. His 6.7 drives per game ranks 17th in the NBA directly behind NBA 6th man of the year C.J. McCollum (7.0), LeBron James, Paul George and Tony Parker all tied at 7.3 per STATS.

Turner, 27, has established himself as one of the best, young two-way guards for the surprising Celtics playing in 81 games this year and averaging 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and an impressive 12.0 PIE ranking, an overall "impact" metric, in just 28 minutes per game. Turner has added tremendous strength and depth to the Celtics backcourt and would do the same for the Knicks in a similar capacity. Bazemore and Turner combined for 178 steals this season, which would be a major boost for the Knicks who finished dead-last in the NBA in steals per game. Steals lead to easy scoring opportunities, which the Knicks were also dreadful at having been consistently outmatched in transition night after night.

Both players won't come cheaply, but won't break the bank and would immediately add the second floor talent on top of what the Knicks were able to accomplish last year that Marks is referring to. They don't solve the Knicks' need for point guard and may require longer term deals in terms of years to coax them away from their current situations, but both are in their primes and are proven, solid options at the guard, small forward, spots. Bazemore can even stretch the floor out to the perimeter and play small four, having averaged 4.1 three pointers per game shooting them at a 37% clip this season.

Adding players of Turner and Bazemore's ability to a nucleus of Anthony, Porzingis, Lopez, Hernangomez, Lance Thomas, Grant and Langston Galloway gives the Knicks a solid core unit and the chance to improve significant weaknesses. They proved this past year what adding Lopez and Porzingis could do to the front court, now it's their turn to focus on the perimeter. Improving depth up front led to and NBA best 15 more wins from the previous season, adding perimeter depth should create similar results for the 2016-17 season. 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Jerian Grant , Kristaps Porzingis

Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison (7) passes against the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings won 133-111. (John Hefti)
Sacramento Kings guard Darren Collison (7) passes against the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings won 133-111. (John Hefti)

With a good amount of cap space and plenty of room to improve their roster, the Knicks figure to be very active this coming offseason.

There's little denying that prospective free agents are going to be intrigued (and perhaps motivated) by the idea of coming to New York to play with a rapidly budding star in Kristaps Porzingis.

Carmelo Anthony may need some help getting this team over the hump, but there's no reason why he can't also continue to play at a high enough level for the foreseeable future. Glancing over the rest of the Knicks' roster, this team looks good on paper, save for a select few voids that need to be filled.

Alas, the big question marks for the Knicks surface when pondering who will coach this team going forward, and whether or not Phil Jackson can guide them in a successful direction before his tenure is done. Following two dismal campaigns, much has been left to be desired. Jackson has made a handful of solid moves, but his own stubbornness and an inability to find the glue that can ultimately hold this team together has held them back. 

As such, despite everything the Knicks will have to offer, prospective free agents may be hesitant to flock to the Big Apple, due to the recent lack of progress in the win column. 

Should they have difficulty reeling in preferred free agents, New York would be smart to utilize their cap space to secure players that won't be able to spurn them, via trade.

One player they happen to like is Kings guard Darren Collison, according to ESPN's Ian Begley (April 22).

Coming off his best two seasons as a pro in Sacramento, Collison is an unselfish floor general who would give the Knicks a big boost at the point guard position. Despite some strong play, Collison mostly came off the bench for the Kings this past year. New York could provide him with a grand stage and more prominent role. 

As Begley notes, it remains to be seen which assets the Knicks could part with to acquire the 28-year-old. 

Tags: Keith Schlosser

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. (Derick E. Hingle)
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. (Derick E. Hingle)

Carmelo Anthony did not show up to Phil Jackson's triangle sessions, according to multiple reports.

Ten Knicks players participated in the multi-day event, but Anthony was not one of them.

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Anthony will have the opportunity to leave New York this summer, and it will be completely up to him if he wants to punch his ticket out of the Big Apple. If skipping this extra credit assignment is any indication, he just may do that.

Let's rewind a few months back to the trade deadline, shall we?

Jackson was "pleasantly surprised," I'm told, by the amount of teams who called about Anthony's eligibility - five teams to be exact - and you'd have to imagine there were a few who are on Melo's list of potential destinations. This gives Phil options to offer to Melo when the two discuss 2016-17 and beyond. Phil and Melo ultimately didn't pull the trigger on any offers after talking to Melo who vehemently made it clear to Jackson his intentions of wanting to remain in New York, I'm told.

So for today, triangle seminars or not, Anthony and Phil are in this thing together, but what will the deal be going forward? Anthony has publicly made mention that he's tired of talking about the triangle, and who wouldn't be considering it's, at most, 33 percent of the team's entire system. He's also stated that he wants to be part of the decision making process moving forward.

"If I'm going to be a part of this organization and the future of this organization, then I want to be a part of the decision-making in some way shape or form," Anthony told reporters a few weeks ago.

Whether or not Phil and executive vice president and general manager Steve Mills accept Melo's request remains to be seen. While many analytics pundits laud this season as perhaps Melo's best, it's hard to really take that seriously. Melo is a six-time All-NBA player and it's doubtful that he will be named to one of the three teams this year. Anyone who watched the Knicks intently this year saw the team, and Melo specifically, get abused in transition off missed shots. Teams routinely attacked Melo, and the Knicks overall, in fast break situations due to their collective lack of foot speed. While the Knicks were 15th in opponent fast break points per game at 12.8, they were 24th in opponent fastbreak efficiency, averaging 1.783 per possession according to teamrankings.com. They were also 21st in number of points they allowed their opponents to score in the 4th quarter at 25.8.

Offensively, the Knicks generated the least amount of points in the entire NBA in transition at 8.4, 12.4 points fewer than league-leading Golden State. They were also 25th in team fast break efficiency at 1.482 points per possession and dead last in steals per game (5.7) and steals per defensive play at 5.3 percent, per teamrankings.com. Suffice it to say if Melo wants to have more decision-making power, it makes good sense to start with deciding to improve his, and the team's transition play.

If I'm Phil I'd give serious consideration to trading Melo for, say, Kyrie Irving then using the cap space to sign someone like a Harrison Barnes as the point forward in the triangle with Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez. The Knicks have been desperate for a point guard for years, but would the dribble-heavy Irving fit in the two-pass first schematic system of the triangle? It's an interesting question, but you sure as heck could imagine he'd be a match for Porzingis in pick and roll and pick/pop situations like this.

If Jackson and Melo were to come together and work on a deal to move Anthony to another team, you'd have to figure the Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers would be the top two direct destinations, with the names included being Blake Griffin, Irving or Kevin Love. Griffin or Love would serve the point of the triangle well allowing the team to potentially focus on landing a top flight point guard next summer. They could also work on a three-way deal with a team like Philadelphia or Boston, who was rumored to be one of the five teams calling Phil the week of the deadline. Chicago has long been discussed as a potential destination as well, and there's unrest in that locker room surrounding the relationship between their two star players Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. You'd have to expect that the Bulls will be active this off season. How about the Wizards? Would Melo be okay with going back to his second home in Baltimore and playing for the nearby team in D.C.?

Based on what I've been hearing since the deadline, expect Jackson to explore every opportunity with Melo from free agent recruiting to a potential trade from the Knicks. While it appears the two are on the same page going forward, don't be surprised at all if this changes in the coming months culminating in Melo finally asking for the chance to leave. Jackson has made it clear that he's not going to overpay for free agents and maintain flexibility moving forward, something that the Knicks organization has struggled to maintain over the past 15 years and a leading reason for their ineptitude. This off season is about Melo's ability to attract talent at the right price so the rebuilding process can continue to progress and the team can firmly make a push to get into the playoffs and ultimately contend. If he can't make this happen and they come up short on the talent side, his frustrations just may get the best of him thus leading to the end of his run here with the Knicks.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

Anthony Donahue and Moke Hamilton bring you the latest edition of The Knicks Blog Podcast, where the guys discuss the latest in the Knicks' search for a new head coach.

Plus, former Knick Landry Fields calls into the show to talk about the Carmelo Anthony trade to New York, the Triangle Offense, and his friend, Jeremy Lin.


 (Jeremy Brevard)
(Jeremy Brevard)

Phil Jackson is going to leave the Knicks. There's no denying it. What's up for debate, obviously, is when that will be. Will he opt out early or fulfill the duration of his contract? Will the man with 13 NBA championships ride off into the sunset after leaving the perfect exclamation point on his basketball legacy?

A championship would be ideal, but given the rarity of such an outcome for the guys in orange and blue, at least leaving the Knicks in a much better position than where he found them when he arrived, would be a big victory for Jackson.

Of course, failing to ensure the team makes strides this coming summer and next season may lead to Jackson not leaving on his own terms. Would James Dolan step in and push him out?

These are all questions to ponder as New York's fate under Jackson continues to unfold. For now, the task at hand is righting the Knicks' ship. A big part of that is hiring the right coach to help lead the way.

Jackson's past preferences and recent comments make the team's reported interest in David Blatt a rather interesting and intriguing prospect. The former Cavaliers coach obviously isn't a designated triangle offense maven. That said, his open mind and ability to adapt are winning him brownie points.

Blatt is an experienced coach with an impressive track record. The same can't be said for a good number of Jackson's triangle disciples. Blatt would be a good working partner. His prospective choice to embrace the triangle may not only appease Jackson, but ensure that the Knicks' president -- and not the team's head coach -- should be more so on the hot seat should things go south if Blatt comes to town.

Regardless of how/when Jackson departs, Blatt would still stand tall as a promising coach to retain for the future. Despite initially being stripped of the president title to make room for Jackson, Steve Mills is still expected to play a big role in continuing to run the Knicks (perhaps even regaining his original job title) when Jackson's tenure is over. He and Blatt are long-time friends after serving as college teammates together at Princeton.

Jackson's infatuation with the triangle offense is clear. Principles of the offense will undoubtedly play a role in molding the team's identity going forward. That said, it remains to be seen if Mills (and perhaps Blatt alongside him) will see to it that the Knicks continue to embrace it after Jackson leaves. If Blatt truly is able to seamlessly adapt with ease, perhaps New York will be quick to break away from the triangle identity.

The ultimate decision perhaps hinges on if/when things go right with Jackson running the show. Whether the triangle outlasts Jackson in New York or if the two are merely tied together remains to be seen. But hiring Blatt would put them in a good place, regardless of how they proceed.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

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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As the search for the next coach of the New York Knicks continues it's important that you know this about how Phil Jackson feels about David Blatt.

"Phil thinks David Blatt is a brilliant basketball mind," a source recently told me. "And [Phil] believes [Blatt] really got a raw deal in Cleveland."

I told you first that Blatt was going to get serious consideration from the Knicks via my Twitter account in February, and yesterday ESPN put Blatt alongside Kurt Rambis as the top candidates for the position. I believe there's a strong chance that both can be here together, especially if Rambis moves into more of a player development role under Jackson in the front office, while Blatt coaches the team.

Blatt, to me, is the no-brainer hire and has been all along. Tom Thibodeau, who now runs the show in Minnesota thanks to a 5-year deal signed yesterday, was never a fit here. The ambitious nature of his role, would never have fit here. Can you imagine the fan reaction if Thibs asked owner James Dolan to sign off on Scott Layden part two?

Granted, it may be more appealing than the idea of having Rambis running the team from the sideline, judging from the emails and direct messages I get on Twitter. Several season ticket holders are ready to jump ship if Rambis gets the nod. All of them happily would sign off on Blatt, who is as well-respected a mind as there is in the world, especially by Phil himself.

It's well-documented now that Blatt and Steve Mills have a great history together and it's easy for people to read like this could be a Mills power play, but it's not, I'm told. The respect for Blatt from Phil is very genuine. The NY Post had an interesting note about Blatt from an NBA executive talking about how adaptive Blatt is and that can only benefit him with the Knicks:

"He didn't come in and say, 'We're going to run what I did in Europe. He was adaptable. He knew he had to adapt to the NBA, not the other way around, and adapt to LeBron, cater to LeBron. I don't think he got enough credit for his adaptability. He's not the bullheaded my-way-or-fire-me guy."

Blatt would be the perfect coach to assist in the development of Kristaps Porzingis, who burst onto the scene in a big way this year and whose projections are off the charts. Blatt is well-known for his development of European bigs like Andrei Kirilenko, Timofey Mozgov and Sasha Kaun, Kirilenko even went as far as to say Blatt was a better coach than Phil Jackson. Here's a glimpse of Blatt rallying his troops from inside the huddle:

"He's one of those guys who is so detailed oriented, he absolutely gets the most out of his players," a European scout told me yesterday. "It's a shame that people in the NBA think of him as the guy LeBron got fired. He's one of the world's best coaches. The media can be cruel in projecting him as a failure that way. It's total garbage, the guy can flat out coach."

Which begs the question, would hiring Blatt require the sign off of Carmelo Anthony, who has asked to be involved in major decision making going forward? Common sense would say yes, and Blatt's reputation with Lebron could be a factor. If it's me, I'm hiring Blatt if I deem him the best coach available and telling Melo he just has to deal with it if he's unhappy with the choice.

As it stands now, the Knicks continue to set up interviews in search for the next hire and ever day that passes without a replacement for Rambis has Knicks fans panicked. While Rambis is still under consideration and the search remains open, to me, the choice is clear. Hire the coach with an incredible global track record with the thick skin necessary to win here. Hire the guy who has an extensive resume who has developed exceptional European talent into excellent NBA players and allow him to groom Porzingis. Hire the guy who proved he could lead a team through a vast amount of adversity, including injuries to two of his top three players, to the doorstep of an NBA title in his first year.

Hire the brilliant mind and the guy who got the raw deal in Cleveland and surge forward. 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Kristaps Porzingis

New York Knicks interim head coach Kurt Rambis coaches against the Brooklyn Nets during the first quarter at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)
New York Knicks interim head coach Kurt Rambis coaches against the Brooklyn Nets during the first quarter at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

The Knicks are still focused on Kurt Rambis and David Blatt as their next head coach, according to Marc Stein.

One head coaching option is off the table, as Tom Thibodeau is in the process of finalizing a five-year deal with Minnesota as their president and head coach.

Knicks president Phil Jackson has said that he will speak to people he's familiar with for the head coaching position, but has not reached out to anyone yet.

Luke Walton's name has been batted around in connection with the Knicks, but Jackson said he believes Walton will stay with the Warriors.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

After watching teams like the Nets and Suns act quickly and scoop up respective head coaches, the Timberwolves appear on the verge of doing the same thing. In this instance, it affects the Knicks, as a very promising candidate (or at least, someone who should very well be in the conversation) is about to be off the table.

Amongst available coaches, Thibodeau stands tall as the best of the bunch. In addition to years as head coach of the Bulls, Thibodeau won an NBA title as an assistant and defensive coordinator, so to speak, with the Celtics back in 2008. What's more, he experienced success under Jeff Van Gundy during the Knicks' more recent glory days in the '90s. There's no doubt he would have elevated the Knicks' level of play if he were given the leeway to do so. 

Phil Jackson wasn't likely to provide that, and thus, this wasn't the best fit. Thibodeau was said to be seeking full control over the Timberwolves' roster, but he'll instead reportedly team up with Scott Layden, a former Knicks General Manager during his time there. 

Carmelo Anthony has a very good relationship with Thibodeau from their time together on Team USA. At the conclusion of the campaign, the forward said he wanted more input on the team's personnel decisions. If Thibodeau was his recommendation to Jackson during exit meeting last week, he can't be thrilled with this development. 

But New York obviously has other coaches on their horizons. Blatt is undoubtedly qualified, but it remains to be seen how a relationship with Anthony would pan out, after he clashed with Anthony's good friend LeBron James in Cleveland. Jackson clearly hasn't proven to be the easiest executive to work with, so Blatt may be uncomfortable with his presence. This is likely an obstacle the Knicks will have to face when considering and subsequently targeting different candidates. The hesitation prospective coaches may harbor is arguably more pressing than Jackson's own resistance to bring an outsider in. It's on Jackson to ensure this doesn't present a problem. 

Letting Thibodeau slip away without even inquiring is an unfortunate start, even if there are other options to explore. 

Tags: Keith Schlosser

New York Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher)
New York Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher)

Is Kurt Rambis currently Phil Jackson's preferred, leading candidate for the Knicks head coaching position? Based on the people I've talked to, who all have significant knowledge of Phil Jackson's thinking, the answer is no.

Let me repeat that: No.

We've really come a long way from just a few short weeks ago when the running narrative surrounding the Knicks was that Jackson just wanted to hire "his buddy" Rambis full-time, haven't we? We've gone from reports circulating the Rambis hiring being a forgone conclusion to reports telling us Phil is doing his diligence on just who the next coach of the Knicks will be. We've also come a long way from Jackson mailing in the Knicks job from some surfboard in Malibu.

"It's no secret they are close. Phil admires Kurt's work ethic," one source said to me last week. "But the job is wide open."

The fact of the matter, I'm told, is that Jackson has been making phone call after phone call trying to get on selected candidates' calendars so that there can me more formal interviews before he makes an ultimate decision. Rambis may have had his shot already and, yes, Jackson wants him to be part of the franchise in some capacity moving forward.

So what we have here is a classic clash of "modern NBA" philosophy, in terms of operations, versus how the NBA has existed, from a hiring perspective, since the league has been in existence. Phil is a traditionalist, who contrary to popular belief, believes in the importance of guard penetration one of the key factors the "modern" NBA game.

"Our process is going on [and] it's a little underground, a little beneath the surface, but this is one of our desires, that we have to have a penetrator," Phil told reporters in March. "We have to have somebody that can handle those roles."

According to STATS, LLC the NBA's stats provider, the Knicks were second to last in points in transition, and last in points scored by an offensive ball handler.

Phil just so happens to be a believer in a traditional hiring process. Add to that The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski report that Tom Thibodeau, a fan favorite from all accounts for the Knicks job, is pursuing a dual role in Minnesota. If this is indeed true (and let's face it, it's Woj so it most probably is), Phil won't attempt to compete with that, which is why there hasn't been any reported contact with the former Bulls head coach. So it makes sense for Phil to not spend too much time thinking of a competitive offer for Thibodeau after he set the market for his services when he has one of those jobs currently, doesn't it?

If Thibodeau wants control, he can have control -- just not here. Before you fly off the handle saying 'Give it to him,' remind yourself of the arguments you've probably made against the "inexperienced" Jackson in the exact same role. If you're able to get past (or avoid) that idea and still want to cut bait with Jackson -- thus scrapping everything the Knicks been doing in rebuilding the past two years -- well, then you're falling in the same trap the team has been in for the last 15 years.

What about Luke Walton? He himself wants folks to know he's happy for the moment in the Bay Area and why wouldn't he be? Adding to that, ESPN's Chris Broussard added a note to his teammate Ian Begley's story that he heard through his sources at MSG that Phil believes Walton will stay with the Warriors. This is on the heels of an anonymous NBA source telling the NY Daily News' Frank Isola that Walton wasn't "interested" in the Knicks gig at this time. The good news for Phil is that he, Kerr and Walton are all extremely close so he'll have a good idea of what each is thinking.

Let's be real. The only way Walton stays in Golden State, if the Knicks and Lakers jobs are still vacant when it comes around to actually hiring, is if Kerr passes the torch to him. I've been told by sources throughout the course of the year that Kerr's back is so bad he's extremely unsure of what he'll do going forward. Add to that the situation happening in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Walton is going to have a serious decision to make. You can bet that he's 100 percent "interested" in being a head coach in this league somewhere next year whether it's Golden State, Los Angeles or New York.

And Mark Jackson? Well, he sits on the number one broadcasting team in the NBA so, like Kerr back in 2014, you can expect him to not be in a rush to have a serious talk with anyone about any jobs. You can also expect there's literally zero chance he'll go on record saying he has no "interest" in his dream job.

He does.

David Blatt already has the respect and the admiration of the front office per multiple sources, including one here. The only potential hold up with a Blatt hire would be if Carmelo Anthony frowns on the idea. I truly believe that his relationship with LeBron in this case is extremely overrated. Think about it, the Cavs hired Blatt BEFORE LeBron decided to come back home so right there tells you that Blatt was doomed from the start. I'll let Jeff Van Gundy speak more on that whole situation here:

But that's a story for another day. Put Blatt right on top of your list of candidates.

But back to Rambis. Phil understands how important this decision is, which is why the search is still wide open. If this were only about his reported "stubbornness" and proving his "style" of basketball is still "relevant" then Rambis would have the job already. He would have had the "interim tag" already removed from his title. Reports have said that Phil would like to have Rambis in the organization moving forward so why not just make it official and go forward, right?

The answer is because the search is still wide open, and Phil isn't rushing into a decision that is every bit as important as who they draft and who they sign as free agents were. Phil knows he failed in hiring Fisher and if he's going to write the proper final chapter in his basketball life, he has to get the hiring of the man leading the ship forward 100% right. He has to hire the person who, not only can lead what will about to me more talent next year into the playoffs, he has to hire the mind to work and develop rookie phenom Kristaps Porzingis into the player we all think he will become. Expect more names to come out in the coming weeks as the search continues but know one thing is the case as we speak.

Yes, Rambis is in the mix, but it's still definitely anyone's ballgame. 


New York Knicks president Phil Jackson in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) (David Zalubowski/AP)
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) (David Zalubowski/AP)

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Derek Fisher failed rather miserably during his tenure as Knicks' head coach; there's no doubt about that. Still, he wasn't exactly placed in the best working environment, either.

Fisher's own inability to act (and react, for the matter) on his feet and make necessary changes, both in the team's lineup and over the course of a given contest should have been the driving force in his ousting as head coach. But as more details arise, it's become clear that his resistance to embrace Jackson's vision and respective ideals to the fullest is instead a big reason why he is no longer in town.

Fisher's first year as head coach was clearly a transition year for the franchise. But in understanding the caliber of talent the Knicks boasted at the start of this past campaign, this squad sure looked good on paper. Fisher had a chance to succeed, but he fell flat.

One has to wonder how much better another coach would have been with Jackson breathing down his neck. During his time as Knicks President, Jackson has resisted even the notion of hiring someone from outside his inner circle. That's presumably because Jackson can't mold them as easily as a ball of clay to his liking. Established coaches are already set in their ways to a certain extent. What's more, someone with experience wouldn't embrace the possibility of Jackson attempting to undermine them and/or dictate exactly what should be going on at all times. 

Just as much as Jackson may not want them, established coaches with contrary (or merely, additional) strategic ideals may be just as hesitant about coming to New York. It's a two-way street, and Fisher proved there are different bumps in this road for various reasons --- not just his own doing.

Following Fisher's demise, one has to wonder how much better one of Jackson's triangle disciples like Brian Shaw or Luke Walton would do with the Knicks. It wasn't the ideal gig for Steve Kerr, either. Was he concerned about finding success in New York? There's a good possibility he and Walton have discussed this during their time together in Golden State. If Kerr were to have come to New York, Walton would have been right there with him. Fast-forward two years down the road, and Walton isn't racing to the alter to lead the guys in orange and blue, even if the intrigue is still there. There's concern and caution, too.

But Rambis appears ready to jump in head first. At this point, he arguably already has. Rambis isn't likely to earn himself an NBA head coaching gig if Jackson isn't his boss. Whereas he's content with this situation, Walton might have greener pastures in front of him. 

Rambis' willingness to let Jackson in (and/or stand behind him in certain instances) provides the best of both worlds for each of them. Whether it does the same for the state of the Knicks is debatable.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

Phil Jackson (Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports)
Phil Jackson (Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports)

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson will hold a meeting with interim coach Kurt Rambis and several players to go over the triangle system, according to multiple reports.

Jackson plans to review film and teach the system, which Jackson prefers to keep, with Rambis and several players, including Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, Tony Wroten, Langston Galloway and Jose Calderon, according to the New York Daily News' Frank Isola.

The Knicks, according to Jackson, played the Triangle more fluently when Rambis became interim coach after New York fired Derek Fisher.

"They had an immersion in the triangle," Jackson said last week, according to ESPN's Ian Begley. "When Kurt started coaching the team, they started executing it with more structure. We saw some progress, but we have to make the next step."

 

Rambis is considered a strong candidate to become the Knicks' permanent head coach, though several other names have been linked to the position. 

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Such a mini-camp is sorely needed following this past season's unfortunate unfolding. The Knicks need all the help (or, more specifically, guidance) they can get. Despite his health limitations, many have been quick to criticize Jackson over the course of his tenure for not stepping in as head coach himself. If he's so passionate around his team running a specific system and seemingly desires influence over whomever the head coach is in order to see to it that they do, perhaps it would be best for him to in fact step up.

Jackson has repeatedly said a return to the bench will not happen. Whether it's because of his health or a feeling as though he has nothing to prove, he is being sincere in his assertion.

The Knicks' president was not among team officials on the prowl for young talent at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament last week. He was absence was noted. Given the improvements New York needs to make, it would have been nice to see him there.

That said, this latest reported involvement is very positive. The players are sure to not only benefit from his input and basketball knowledge, but also hopefully gain a better understanding of what exactly Jackson is looking for. This intimate time could give them a more thorough glimpse into the mind of the man with such a specific vision for what comes next. They should all be learning in more ways than one.

It makes sense that the team's younger players will be in attendance. Wroten is still selling himself to the team, hoping to earn a spot next season. Porzingis and Grant each have much to learn. Galloway's inclusion is evidence of his dedication and commitment to this team as the Knicks ponder bringing him back next season. The same can be said in a similar sense about Calderon. He's obviously under contract for next season, but has quickly become an expendable piece New York wants to rid itself of. Serving as a vocal leader with triangle familiarity during this camp could go a long way toward helping him gain favor with Jackson.

Rambis' complete exclusion from the exit meetings last week was a little peculiar, even if Jackson was seeking input from his players on the interim coach's performance. Still, one way or another (either as head coach or a return to an assistant post), Jackson's long time friend appears likely to return in some form next season. 

One would have to think Carmelo Anthony will end up in attendance, if even in just a supportive and/or participating capacity off the court to avoid injury. 

The urgency around having this overtime gathering so soon after the season ended is a good thing. There's plenty for all involved to gain from it. It'll be interesting to see if Jackson comes across with a more clear mentality, and if the players continue to grab a hold of it.

This is merely an extended opportunity for Jackson to learn more about his players -- where they are mentally and physically, and what he needs to do in order to get the most out of them, or go on to fill subsequent voids. 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony , Jerian Grant , Jose Calderon , Kristaps Porzingis , Langston Galloway

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton sits with head coach Steve Kerr. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports Images)
Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton sits with head coach Steve Kerr. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports Images)

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton told the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami that while he has expressed the desire to become a head coach in the future, he is "comfortable" where he currently is and does not plan to rush into anything.

Walton said he spoke informally with New York Knicks president Phil Jackson "a couple days ago" and that the conversation was not considered a formal interview. Jackson said earlier Monday, "Nobody has been asked[,] nobody said no" to any formal offer regarding the Knicks' head coaching vacancy.

While Walton, according to a report on Sunday, had no interest in the position, he confirmed as such to Kawakami on Monday. Walton said:

I'm very comfortable and I love where I'm at right now. I love coming to work every day.

I also do want to be a head coach some day, whether that's next year or the year after that. I'm going to pursue those opportunities.

But knowing while I'm doing that, that I love my job here. So I'm not going to rush off into anything else.

Walton, who led the Warriors to a 39-4 record while filling in for Steve Kerr earlier in the season, was granted permission by the team to interview for additional head coaching positions, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman.

Walton is among several names who have been linked to the Knicks' coaching vacancy, including interim coach Kurt Rambis and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Going from source to source and report to report, sometimes it's difficult to pull the facts out from the pool of speculation. But this is directly from Walton's mouth. This confirms Jackson made a call, and while Walton said the two speak often, he didn't downright deny that the Knicks' president, at the very least, inquired about his interest in the job. He left that open for interpretation. 

He's not in a rush to leave Golden State under any circumstances. The longer Walton waits (even if it is because he prefers to focus on the playoffs at this point in time), the less likely it is that he becomes a head coach, not just in New York, but anywhere, next season. Fewer jobs will be left vacant as teams continue to be aggressive. 

That said, Walton appears to be content with that possibility. Serving as lead assistant for a team fresh off amassing the NBA's best record of all time is undoubtedly a healthier and more secure job than stepping in as head coach for an otherwise struggling team, let alone one that plays under the bright lights of the Big Apple.

Walton stands tall as the ideal candidate to serve as the next head coach of the Knicks for many reasons. Nevertheless, Jackson needs to be careful about who he waits for, and how long. Just like Walton's job opportunities could dwindle as he chooses to wait, so will New York's pool of candidates, if the Knicks choose to wait on him specifically.

Worse than losing out on Walton would be doing so after being led on and/or internally carrying out false hope that he'll eventually come around. As good as he could be, Walton's lack of urgency around the Knicks' job is proof Jackson needs to continue shaking the trees a bit more. Getting spurned by Walton (much like they did by Kerr back in 2014) will sting a lot more if they don't prepare sensible fallback options in the meantime. 

Tags: Matt Eisenberg

Golden State Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Lakers 116-98. (Kyle Terada)
Golden State Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Lakers 116-98. (Kyle Terada)

After speaking on the phone with possible head-coaching candidate Luke Walton, Phil Jackson told people within the Knicks organization that he believed Walton would stay with the Golden State Warriors, a source told ESPN's Chris Broussard.

Earlier Monday morning, Jackson responded to a media report that Walton had told the Knicks he wasn't interested in the job. Jackson tweeted that no one has been offered or turned down the open head-coaching position with New York yet. 

The Knicks will most likely be among a group of teams pursuing Walton this offseason. However the team is in no rush to hire a new head coach because the team has zero picks in this year's draft, a source told Broussard. 

While Walton served as interim head coach, Golden State began the season with an NBA-record 24 wins. The Warriors' overall record under Walton was 39-4, although all 39 wins have been credited to head coach Steve Kerr, who was out on a leave of absence due to a back ailment. 

Walton's father, Hall of Fame center and ESPN broadcaster Bill Walton, thinks his son should stay with the Warriors.

"It doesn't get any better than what he's got right now -- ever in life-- and money will not make that happen again," Walton said last month. "It's there now. Head-coaching jobs, they're open for a reason, and what he's got -- just stay there."

 

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Jackson reportedly reached out to Walton, but as he tweeted earlier Monday, no coaching candidates have presumedly been offered and/or had the opportunity to reject the Knicks' head coaching position. This latest assertion via Broussard suggests Walton would reject the position, if so offered.

The question is no longer whether or not the Knicks reached out to Walton, but whether or not he's actually interested in the position itself. It's one thing to say he'd rather hold off on discussing the position further until Golden State's playoff run is complete. That's not only out of respect for his current employer, but also a firm indication of the type of worker he is and where his focus should be. That's a matter of prioritizing, as opposed to outright rejection. If that were the case, the Knicks should still like their chances. Nothing to worry about. 

Not having interest in holding talks, because of that, is one thing. Not having interest in the Knicks job' (or moving on from the Warriors at all) would be unfortunate for New York. Given the candidates that Jackson is likely to consider, the former Laker would arguably sit atop of the list. Coming away from a conversation with the impression he's not interested would say a lot at this early stage. 


New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson looks on during a stop in play against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)
New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson looks on during a stop in play against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)

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A source has told me that Phil Jacksonhas been on the phone, as early as two weeks ago, making preliminary interview calls to potential candidates and hasn't offered the position to Walton, or anyone. He's doing his diligence and following standard hiring practices. Jackson is clearly taking the bull by the horns with the media here and won't accept any misrepresented reports, which is fascinating. 

For the sake of context, it's important to recall Jackson's last hiring process when he courted then-TNT analyst Steve Kerr. Kerr wanted to focus on covering the playoffs until his responsibilities were done in mid-May of 2014 when he ultimately chose Golden State over New York after reportedly very deep negotiations. Jackson then rebooted the search before settling on Derek Fisher June 10, 2014.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

If it isn't a completely disparaging theory, teams often let the media believe what they want. There really isn't a pressing need to respond to such speculation, especially considering what's been reported. There hasn't been much at all. 

That said, Jackson obviously has a reputation as someone who likes to engage and react to the media and fans alike through social media. He talks freely, which, coming from someone employed by the Knicks' organization, should be welcomed after years of attempting to keep so many things (with regard to strategy and thought process) behind closed doors.

Jackson's ego is huge. One could suggest that he's attempting to clear things up and share on his terms, because he cannot handle the idea of someone (especially someone who is considered to be a part of inner circle, so to speak) turning him down. When Steve Kerr spurned him back in 2014, that not only looked bad, but suggested Jackson wasn't going to be the easiest boss to work with. That has since been proven during his tenure in New York.

Unfortunately, that in itself does not bode well for the Knicks' hopes of hitting a home run with their next head coaching hire. Nevertheless, what comes next remains to be seen. Luke Walton presumedly represents the best of both worlds, as the better option stemming from Jackson's coaching/playing tree. 

If the Knicks' President put in a preliminary call to Walton to merely gauge interest, the Warriors' assistant could have opted to hold off on further discussions or a more formal interview until after his team's playoff run is complete. This could explain both the reports that he is not "currently" interested in the Knicks' job, and Jackson's denial that the job has been offered and/or rejected outright by anyone just yet.


Warriors assistant Luke Walton was 39-4 filling in for Steve Kerr t his season. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)
Warriors assistant Luke Walton was 39-4 filling in for Steve Kerr t his season. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports)

Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton has no current interest in the New York Knicks' coaching gig after talking with Knicks president Phil Jackson, according to the New York Daily News' Frank Isola.

Jackson and Walton discussed the coaching vacancy over the phone, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman, though nothing appears imminent.

It is unclear if and/or when Walton and Jackson will talk again, according to Isola.

Walton, who led the Warriors to a 39-4 record while filling in for head coach Steve Kerr, was granted permission by the Warriors to interview for additional head coaching positions, Berman reported on Saturday.

Walton interviewed for the Brooklyn Nets' head coaching vacancy, according to Berman, but took himself out of consideration. The Nets hired former Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson on Sunday.

Jackson said he is limiting the coaching search to people he knows, and Walton had played for Jackson and the Lakers from 2003 to 2011. 

Interim coach Kurt Rambis has previously been considered to become the permanent Knicks coach, and the team has also reportedly considered former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt as well.

Two years ago, according to Berman, Walton declined Jackson's offer to be an assistant coach to Derek Fisher, who was hired in June 2014.

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Add Walton to the list of candidates we've said Jackson has been accruing for the past several weeks, including David Blatt and Mark Jackson. Isola reports there is no interest "right now," though Walton could wait until after Golden State's season ends before making a decision on his future for two reasons. One, the Warriors season comes first, as does the future health of coach Steve Kerr, so he may want to hang around there for awhile. The other being what happens in Los Angeles with the Lakers. I've been told that John Calipari is the heavy favorite there to replace Byron Scott and possibly Mitch Kupchak, who was noticeably absent from this year's Portsmouth Invitational.  

As we've said, Phil Jackson is clearly doing his diligence, so the idea he's married to the idea of hiring Rambis would appear to be misleading. This is an important decision for Phil, who has stated his allegiance to staying in New York and building the Knicks system of basketball.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Walton has long been considered a strong candidate for the Knicks' job. After watching him grow and display a skilled ability to lead the Warriors earlier this season as interim head coach, perhaps Jackson regrets not making a stronger push for him as head coach, as opposed to pulling the trigger on Fisher initially, instead.

Given just how talented they are, one could argue just about anyone could have experienced similar success leading Golden State. But while stepping in for Kerr, Walton showed an aptitude for reacting timely and making late-game changes when his team was faced with even the smallest bit of pressure. He knows how to roll with the punches. There's something to be said about someone whose fingers are constantly on the pulse of a given situation. Fisher had trouble making adjustments.

Walton is a proven winner, not only as a player, but now as a coach as well.

Obviously very familiar with the triangle offense, Walton would likely embrace Jackson's guiding hand. But at this point, he's also been exposed to other winning environments. Someone with a bit of more well rounded experience could benefit the Knicks, because they'll be able to pull from various positive formulas to create a new one to spell potential success in New York. Jackson's vision clearly hasn't been perfect thus far.

Walton has top notch potential, but he obviously isn't all too proven as a head coach. In the Knicks' case, this could still prove to be a good thing. Most candidates Jackson is likely to consider at this point have a poor track record as head coach. Officially (barring his 39-4 record as interim coach earlier this year), Walton has a clean slate.


Iona's A.J. English played well at the Portsmouth Invitational. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
Iona's A.J. English played well at the Portsmouth Invitational. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

Full disclosure -- this has been a journey, a quest if you will, that has been a part of my life over the past 10 years. And in studying the craft of scouting, here's what I've learned over that time while evaluating talent. What a player with talent ultimately becomes is largely up to them. But it's the position, the opportunity, that they are put by the scouts and organization, initially, that puts them on their pathway to stardom.

When these two factors come together in perfect harmony they can create greatness like we've seen with Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors.

I mention Green because he was drafted 35th overall in the 2012 draft and the professional basketball world has been on the lookout for the next Draymond for several years now. While Green did not compete at the 2012 PIT, the reason the Draymond example is so important to note and why it's so valuable is that there are four indisputable truths in my mind to the definition of "true value" in the NBA and it starts where a player is drafted.

This is why virtually every NBA organization had their collective focus on Portsmouth, Virginia this past week for the annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. The aforementioned factors, or truths, to defining a potential draft pick's value are:

  • Ability to control the player's contract to achieve optimal evaluation and salary
  • Maximum versatility
  • Selflessness
  • Coachability

Every time I watch Green play I wonder how he fell as far as he did in the 2012 NBA Draft. Part of me is pretty sure of the answer, but it's one that I continue to press until satisfied with a more decorous answer. Was it really front office fear from internet blogs and mock drafts that four-year players have lower upside? Maybe. Were Draymond's pre-draft interviews at all an issue or was it just an oversight? Possibly. Whatever the reasons, the teams that missed out on Green's all-around, two-way versatility are on full-alert this year looking to find that diamond in the rough.

The Knicks don't have a first-round pick this year, but in his first two years Phil Jackson has shown the propensity to gamble and make deals to get players in the draft that he's looking to fit into the Knicks system. In 2014 he acquired the opportunity to draft Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo with the 34th and 51st picks, respectively, in the Tyson Chandler trade. Then he was able acquire highly-touted Spanish forward Willy Hernangomez, a teammate of Kristaps Porzinigis, from the Philadelphia 76ers last summer. My guess is that they'll save all their money for impending free agency, but we'll focus more on that as June draws closer.

To read more, click here.


Anthony Donahue and Moke Hamilton bring you the latest edition of TheKnicksBlog Podcast, where the guys discuss Phil Jackson's exit interviews and his mysterious rebuilding plan.

Plus, NBA broadcaster Spero Dedes joins the show to give you his take on Kurt Rambis, the triangle offense, and Kobe Bryant's final night on an NBA floor.


 (Bob Donnan)
(Bob Donnan)

The NBA will begin selling jersey sponsorships in 2017-18, becoming the first major North American sports league to put partners' logos on players' uniforms.

The three-year trial was approved Friday by NBA owners and will take effect when the league's contract with Nike begins. The patches will appear on the front left of the jersey, opposite Nike's logo, and measure about 2 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches.

Logos appear on international and MLS soccer jerseys, and many athletes in individual sports wear their sponsors' attire in competition.

Commissioner Adam Silver had said this step was inevitable as an additional revenue generator. WNBA teams already have logos, and NBA clubs were wearing them on practice jerseys. >> Read more...

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Having watched the Westchester Knicks closely the advertisements on the uniforms are very subtle optically. This was implemented through the D-League as a test, which in Commissioner Silver's estimation, seems to have met the goals set forth by the league. Traditionalists may be bothered initially, but when factoring in the many leagues who have adapted these ads globally, it was only a matter of time before the NBA followed suit.


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)

Tommy Dee | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

Phil Jackson has a message for the members of the media who have been overly harsh to the team over the years.

Knock it off. You're not helping the situation.

"You guys are making it really hard on us to get free agents. You don't have to do that," Jackson told reporters. "You can make this a good place to come to. It's a nice place. The press is good. They're positive about the team. They improved 15 games this year. That can help us out. You guys can do a job too, make it better on yourselves next year too."

Jackson, whose "tactics of the mind" have been a big part of his success over his illustrious career, is attempting the impossible by trying to silence the tabloid critics, a difficult task to say the very least.

Yes, winning would help to a degree, but the New York media has always held itself to a higher standard of criticism. It's a small part why winning a championship here may be more satisfying, but in recent years "friendlier" coverage has helped the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors create an environment that welcomes players.

I think back to an interview former Heat forward Shane Battier had on the CBS's Boomer and Carton show. He flat out said players in the NBA are bothered by the media coverage and, having lived through the Lebron James recruiting circus in 2010, I can tell you the media was a big part of the reason James gave the Knicks "The Heisman." The other reason was the albatross of Eddy Curry's contract. Fast forward six years later and the Knicks have the cap space to lure talent except that they have Carmelo Anthony as the centerpiece, not Curry.

The media's job, in my opinion, is to be impartial yet critical. The media spin surrounding whether Phil Jackson has been rebuilding has confused fans and skewed expectations. The rebuild led to the acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis, a cornerstone piece of the franchise moving forward. Having control of Porzingis' contract while being able to recruit more expensive talent is a favorable position heading into the offseason.

The team hopes to add talent to a 32-50 team that has missed out of the playoffs in Jackson's first 2 years at the helm. And the hope is to create a healthier media environment, similar to one that once existed under Dave Checketts and Pat Riley in the 1990s.

A very ambitious undertaking to say the least.


Apr 3, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis reacts during first half against Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 3, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis reacts during first half against Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Phil Jackson wants to work with a coach he knows, and he'll take some time before deciding if that's Kurt Rambis.

Jackson said Thursday that Rambis will be interviewed for the New York Knicks' coaching job after he finished the season as the team's interim coach. Jackson, the team's president of basketball operations, said he hasn't taken or made any calls about the position, which Rambis held since Derek Fisher was fired in early February.

For now, Rambis has a head start on the field.

"That's the only one I've said I'd interview right now," Jackson said. "I've resisted taking calls or making calls until the season's over and I have these exit meetings, but Kurt knows he'll be interviewed for the job."

Rambis was a former assistant coach under Jackson in Los Angeles and the two have a good working relationship, but he understands if Jackson needs to look around at other options.

"He's got to do what he's got to do," Rambis said. "That doesn't bother me."

The Knicks finished 32-50, their third straight season out of the playoffs, and there are a number of top candidates who would be available if Jackson opened a wide-spread coaching search.

That's what Carmelo Anthony indicated the Knicks should do.

"I think it should be open," Anthony said. "I think we should at least make it open and just like any other process, it should be open."

It may be - but only to a point.

Jackson was an 11-time champion as a coach who believes in a certain system of basketball that should be played. That will limit the options available and potentially eliminate someone like Tom Thibodeau right off the bat.

"Only people I probably know will be in the interview process," Jackson said. "I will reach out to make connections to some people, but I've been in this NBA over 50 years and I've seen a lot of situations where coaches end up coming in without simpatico with the general manager and those things don't work well. So someone who has compatibility with what I do, would have to be in sync with what we do."

Jackson gave no timetable, saying it could be July or it could be May.

The roster also needs plenty of work after the Knicks faltered badly following a promising 22-22 start. Besides the coach, the other question is whether will be a part of it next season.

"As of right now, I'll be here," Anthony said. >> Read more...


GEICO SportsNite: Knicks 00:01:48
Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Phil Jackson reflect on the Knicks season and discuss what is ahead.

New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson looks on during a stop in play against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)
New York Knicks general manager Phil Jackson looks on during a stop in play against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)

Knicks president Phil Jackson said he will only interview people he knows for the Knicks head coaching position.

Kurt Rambis will get an interview, Jackson said.

"Only people I know will be involved in the interview process," Jackson said.

Jackson said he will look for a coach who he has "compatibility" with.

The team president said he was disappointed with the Knicks this season and he is ready to move foward and build the team's roster.


New York Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis looks on against the Sacramento Kings during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. (Steven Ryan)
New York Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis looks on against the Sacramento Kings during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. (Steven Ryan)

Kurt Rambis did not participate in exit interviews with the Knicks on Thursday, Kristaps Porzingis told reporters.

Only Phil Jackson and Steve Mills conducted the meetings, Porzingis said.

Rumors have been swirling about Rambis' future with the Knicks -- possibly as head coach, in a different role with the team or none at all.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

There's no doubt that Rambis and Jackson remain close, but the fact that the former is not sitting in on exit interviews is huge. Rambis has been rumored to be a favorite to retain the head coaching position, but this would suggest otherwise. 

Why wouldn't a team want their head coach to sit in on the meetings?

Jackson is known to want to control and influence over the way this team is run, even from a coaching prospective. Rambis has clearly been content with letting him in, so to speak. Even if Jackson were running point on the exit interviews, it would make sense that Rambis would sit in, if even just as a silent figure. 

His absence could send the message that a return isn't in the cards. Then again, Jackson could also be weighing whether or not to bring him back. Allowing the players to talk freely about their impressions (without him in the room, obviously) may help Jackson make a more educated decision down the road.

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To Keith's point, this could mean Phil and Steve Mills were talking to the players about Rambis specifically. That said, it does speak more to the clear fact, which has been mentioned here, that the job isn't Rambis' yet and that it's still wide open.

 


 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

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Prior to the start of this season, Carmelo Anthony asserted that he preferred to lead by example, much more so than being the vocal type of guy to get in the face of his teammates. 

It's safe to say that arguably for the first time in his career, Anthony made more of an effort to serve as such a presence this past season, at least in his own way. In addition to standing tall as somewhat of a big brother and mentor to Kristaps Porzingis, Anthony altered aspects of his game in an attempt to further help the team. He proved to be an all-around better player, and a rather unselfish one, at that.

Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough. At the very least, that's the type of conclusion one could draw from the Knicks' lack of progress and subsequent success, despite an elevated effort (on the court) from Anthony.

Set to be 32-years-old next month, Anthony is now a thirteen year NBA veteran. But there's still plenty for him to learn. Perhaps following so much resistance of not wanting to be a vocal leader, Anthony has to finally learn the proper ways to be one. Leading by example hasn't worked thus far. It's a poor excuse. What's more, Anthony needs to learn how to win --- not just an NBA title, but how to thrive in big moments, generally speaking. It's fair to say that after three losing seasons, he's forgotten how --- even if the Knicks' previous success back in 2012-13 can be attributed mostly to him. 

A big component of that Atlantic Division championship winning team's success seems to be a glaring void for this Knicks squad, as currently constructed. Without Anthony choosing to set the tone, New York is missing veteran leadership. 

Much like the Knicks have needed Anthony to be the guy who can call his teammates out, he himself still needs someone to guide him. Perhaps that leaves him vulnerable as a player who is currently in his prime, but it's true. 

Anthony may have been the catalyst with regard to production back in 2012-13, but he wasn't the glue that held that team together. Instead, it was older veterans like Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, and Kurt Thomas who commanded the respect and set a tone. They weren't afraid to get in Anthony's face. As they guided him and showed him the way, Anthony chose to defer. Everyone was all the better for it.

Of course, depending on such players so heavily on the court as well led to the Knicks' downfall when they all broke down. This time around, the Knicks need to find a balance. With such flexibility this offseason, they have the opportunity to do so.

Anthony has begged for roster continuity for two years now. That's not unreasonable, because after all, the team looks pretty darn good on paper. But realizing what those missing links still are, is absolutely crucial to utilizing the existent talent the Knicks already do have, to the best of their respective abilities. From the aforementioned veterans, to pairing up with Chauncey Billups in both New York and Denver, Anthony has been a better player when he himself has someone else to lean on and look up to. That could trickle down to the younger players on the roster as well. Anthony still isn't that guy, so the Knicks desperately need to find him. 

Many people want the Knicks to make noise with a big splash this offseason, but perhaps the players who will have the biggest impact on the team's success are the ones who may arguably boast more valuable experience than ability at this point. Anthony and Co. need such a presence more than anything --- except maybe an upgrade at point guard, of course. It's a very pressing need, nonetheless. 

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Sources have told me that Phil Jackson was "exceedingly disappointed" with Carmelo's leadership in their first season together. Phil used the first year to evaluate the individuals on the roster to see who was going to be on the team with Melo going forward and if Melo had the ability to be the leader the team needs to contend. The disconnect, I'm told, came over Melo not doing his diligence reading the selected books Jackson gave the team prior to training camp.

This season, I'm told, was completely different. Melo came to camp extremely well-read and focused on being a different player and leader, and the results in his overall game speak volumes to both Melo and Jackson being on the same page. You can see that Melo wants to be part of decisions going forward and the team has to decide where to draw that line.

The question now becomes will the "new" Melo be enough to attract the talent around him to take the Knicks to the next phase of their rebuild.

Tags: Keith Schlosser

New York Knicks guard Arron Afflalo (4) against the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)
New York Knicks guard Arron Afflalo (4) against the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)

Arron Afflalo is likely to opt-out of his $8 million player option for next season with the New York Knicks, according to Stefan Bondy of the Daily News.

"I still believe I'm one of the premiere two-guards in this league and part of being an elite two-guard in this league is opportunity," Afflalo said. "You have to be in a certain environment where you can excel and show what you can do. And hopefully that contributes to winning. I still believe I'm that player. I'll find the best opportunity for me."

If Afflalo declines his player option, the Knicks will have enough cap space to go after a max free agent in an offseason where Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan, Mike Conley Jr. and Dwight Howard will all be available. 

Afflalo's tenure with the Knicks has been strange this past season, with a clear miscommunication between the guard and interim head coach Kurt Rambis

In 71 games for the Knicks this season, Afflalo averaged 12.8 points and 3.7 rebounds on 44.3% shooting from the field and 38.2% shooting from the 3-point line.

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Suffice to say Afflalo hasn't finished the year in fashion he'd like, but it's clear going forward he's a legit 3rd or 4th scoring option on a really good team. Whether that opportunity is here with the Knicks remains to be seen.

The Knicks struggled in transition both offensively and defensively with the slow-footed trio of Afflalo, Jose Calderon and Carmelo Anthony, and it's something they must address this off season on the perimeter. Afflalo is a terrific half court player, offensively and is more than a willing defender. Like fellow wingman Derrick Williams, Afflalo bet on himself in hopes of landing a bigger contract, which is likely the last multi-year deal of his career.

Bringing Afflalo back in a reduced role at the same number makes sense, but expect the Knicks look elsewhere with the additional cap space should Afflalo indeed test the warm waters of free agency.


Carmelo Anthony, standing next to interim coach Kurt Rambis, who is also a candidate for the position full time, would like input in the Knicks personal decisions. ( Adam Hunger)
Carmelo Anthony, standing next to interim coach Kurt Rambis, who is also a candidate for the position full time, would like input in the Knicks personal decisions. ( Adam Hunger)

Carmelo Anthony wants to have a say in the Knicks' decision-making process this offseason, Carmelo said before sitting out Tuesday's loss to the Pacers.

"If I'm going to be a part of this organization and the future of this organization, then I want to be a part of the decision-making in some way shape or form," Anthony said to reporters. 

Anthony also told reporters that he looks at the list of upcoming free agents every day, pondering who the Knicks could bring in to join the star in New York. While interm head coach Kurt Rambis said the decision of management is to get players who fit into the triangle offense, Anthony feels differently.

"I think all good players can adapt to whatever system it is out there. I don't want the players that we are trying to go after to put too much into the actual thinking of the system," the star forward told reporters. "If you're a ballplayer, you're a ballplayer. You come to work, you play hard, you be part of what we have going on here. Then, just like any other system, you have to learn."

Carmelo Anthony owns a no-trade clause, and could choose to orchestrate a relocation to another team.

 

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Some superstars become overbearing in their desire to influence a respective front office's decision-making process. That said, this isn't the case with Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks should openly embrace his potential feedback. He's obviously a major building block in their hope of competing sooner rather than later. What's more, he's been a good soldier, taking in stride not only the team's struggles, but their inconsistencies and relative failures when it's come to the wrong choices during Phil Jackson's tenure. One could even argue that at this point, New York owes it to Anthony to put their best collective foot forward. 

This season especially, Anthony embraced change on the court and came out on top. He did his part, carrying his weight as an all-around better player, and a more prevalent leader for his teammates to lean on and learn from. He's had a big impact on the development and maturity of young guns Kristaps Porzingis and Langston Galloway, to name a couple of examples. In recognizing this, Jackson and New York's front office should welcome the star's input.

While making the necessary changes in his overall game, Anthony has had a first-hand look at what has gone right and what has gone wrong, both on the court and in the locker room. It makes sense that he would have a sound understanding of what (or whom) the missing links might be. That said, even he desires some roster continuity. 

In addition, Anthony is relatively well liked and respected by his peers. It would likely pay dividends to have a more persuasive and vocal Anthony during free agency. He's often taken a back seat to such a process, but now he and the Knicks don't have much to show for it. A change is needed.

It's worth noting here that in addition to having influence and strong relationships with certain players, Anthony knows Tom Thibodeau really well from their time spent together on Team USA. Perhaps the star forward's potential endorsement of the former Bulls coach would be enough to cause Jackson to give him more serious consideration.

They say a happy wife makes for a happy life. In terms of the marriage between Jackson and Anthony, a happy superstar makes for a more upbeat and motivated one. This, of course, would go a long way towards sparking potential success to follow. 

Tags: Carmelo Anthony

 (Kyle Terada)
(Kyle Terada)

The Knicks have not reached out to Mark Jackson regarding their head coaching job, a source told Frank Isola of the Daily News.

Isola cited a person close to Jackson, who said the Knicks' reported contact with Jackson was "not true."

Isola also cited a source who said Jackson would never speak to a team that already has a head coach.

The Knicks wrapped up their season on Tuesday with a loss to the Pacers, making their final record 32-50.

Interim head coach Kurt Rambis replaced Derek Fisher on Feb. 8 and is expected to get consideration for the full-time job.

Keith Schlosser, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive

Much like his former coach Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson has previously discussed on air as an ESPN analyst that he believes it's unprofessional to entertain his potential candidacy for a job that's currently someone else's (Rambis). One would like to take him at is word, but it's possible to be certain what's going on behind closed doors. That said, at the time of the suggestion otherwise, there was only one game left to the season. The job was all but vacant. Now that the season has come to a close, perhaps it's officially fair game. 

The Knicks could have merely reached out to Jackson to express interest; such talks may not have been as in depth, but perhaps more with a "let's talk more later" tone. The fact of the matter is Rambis, at this point, was all but a place holder. His position was temporary until New York designates otherwise. With the season over, it's time to explore other options.

Regardless of the timing as to when, Jackson standing as a potential candidate would be very positive. Not only is he a change from Phil Jackson's norm of triangle offense disciples, but he's someone who knows what it takes to win in New York. What's more, he has experienced relatively impressive success as a head coach before, which is more than one can say about the other candidates the Knicks' president is likely to be more familiar with -- Rambis included.


New York Knicks president Phil Jackson looks on during a stop in play against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA game at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson looks on during a stop in play against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA game at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports Images)

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The New York Knicks finished the season 32-50 and have missed the playoffs in team president Phil Jackson's first two years, and it sounds as if there will be immediate changes with the roster and potentially at the head coaching position.

David Blatt and Mark Jackson are two names high on Phil's list of potential candidates for the Knicks' head coaching job, but according to sources, Phil is doing his diligence and reaching out to several more.

It is unclear if Tom Thibodeau is one, but considering the contentious relationship Thibodeau's mentor Jeff Van Gundy at one time had with Phil and Knicks owner Jim Dolan, I would be shocked if Thibodeau is given serious consideration.

Those with a deep knowledge of Knicks history recall Van Gundy's battles with Jackson. Phil would consistently refer to the former Knicks coach as "Gundy" while Van Gundy coined Jackson "Big Chief Triangle" during their historic battles of the '90s.

Sources within Madison Square Garden also indicate that Dolan still hasn't fully moved past Van Gundy, a current ESPN analyst, resigning from the position in December 2001.

Interim coach Kurt Rambis told reporters prior to the team's last home game that things can turn around quickly with the right personnel. Phil structured the roster to maintain flexibility so the Knicks have the cap space and opportunity to upgrade the roster starting in the backcourt.

I think Jackson understands the significance of the next coaching hire after the Derek Fisher experiment failed. The next coach has to value winning as well as develop Kristaps Porzingis, whom Dolan has been extremely impressed with according to sources. Properly developing the rookie is just as important as rapidly turning the team into contenders.

The Knicks, as an organization, have struggled sticking with a consistent plan over the years, which has been a major reason for their struggles, and it's clear Phil is bullish on building a winning system here.

Despite initial media speculation to the contrary, Dolan has let Phil and Knicks GM Steve Mills build the foundation of the basketball business, and while it hasn't paid dividends in terms of wins, the future is bright starting with Porzinigis. Jackson's job this summer will be adding talent to support the current roster while continuing to elevate the career trajectory of their prized rookie.

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