The New York Knicks are hiring former Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale to be their new head coach. It isn’t clear who will join Fizdale’s coaching staff as of yet, but he’s well-liked and respected around the league so he could bring some star power with him to New York.
According to a recent report by Michael Wallace, Fizdale “could recruit some of his Grizzlies’ assistants” to the Knicks (via NBA.com):
“The remaining assistants – Keith Smart, Bob Bender, Nick Van Exel and Adam Mazarei – either all had separate, individual relationships with Fizdale or, in Mazarei’s case, was inherited from Dave Joerger’s staff. Van Exel was among the staff members who publicly congratulated JB Bickerstaff for the promotion, although none were in attendance for Wednesday’s press conference.”
New York currently has three assistant coaches on their staff: Howard Eisley, Corey Gaines and Jerry Sichting.
Here are some of the top names, including the ones mentioned above, who could make sense to become an assistant.
Juwan Howard, Miami Heat
In addition to playing for Fizdale, he was an assistant coach alongside him as well. Howard has even said Fizdale is one of the reasons he became an assistant coach.
Howard interviewed for the Knicks’ head coaching vacancy, but is still employed by the Miami Heat. It seems unlikely he would leave the Heat, but this could be an attractive opportunity.
He was teammates with current New York assistant coach Howard Eisley when they were on the Dallas Mavericks during the 2000-01 season. And, as noted by Stefan Bondy, one of Howard’s college coaches was current Knicks general manager Scott Perry.
Some of his other former teammates include Van Exel, Alston and Jamaal Magloire.
Nick Van Exel, Memphis Grizzlies
He coached Nick Van Exel with the Warriors during his first year as an assistant coach. Fizdale later hired the former guard to be his assistant with the Grizzlies. He has had nothing but high praise for his former player and colleague.
According to Ian Begley, the team is looking to hire folks who can help develop young point guard Frank Ntilikina (via ESPN):
“One subject that has come up in multiple coaching interviews with the Knicks? How the prospective coach would use & develop Frank Ntilikina, sources say. The question itself isn’t all that surprising but it’s another indication that NYK management is committed to the young guard.”
Van Exel, a former NBA point guard, could be a perfect fit for this opportunity.
Rafer Alston, Minnesota Timberwolves
Former NBA guard Rafer Alston played one season with the Heat back when Fizdale was an assistant coach. Earlier this season, he was hired as a scout for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Alston is originally from nearby Queens, NY, and may be eager to become an assistant coach for his hometown team.
In addition to his connection to Fizdale, he played for the Houston Rockets when Knicks assistant general manager Gerald Madkins was their director of scouting during the 2008-09 season.
Keith Smart, Memphis Grizzlies
They coached together on the Warriors when Fizdale was a young assistant. Fizdale also later hired Smart as an assistant with the Grizzlies.
Smart previously coached Michael Beasley, whom the Knicks will likely try to re-sign this summer.
While he recently worked as an assistant under Fizdale in Memphis, Smart has served as a head coach for four seasons – leading the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2002-03, the Golden State Warriors in 2010-11 and the Sacramento Kings in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
Jamaal Magloire, Toronto Raptors
The big man played for the Heat from 2008 until 2011, all when Fizdale was an assistant. After his playing career, he became an assistant for the Toronto Raptors. He is now a basketball development consultant for the franchise and also works as a community ambassador.
Jim Boylan, Cleveland Cavaliers
They coached together on the Warriors when Fizdale was in his first year as a professional coach. Boylan is one of the assistant coaches for the Cleveland Cavaliers, which could be a far less attractive job without LeBron James if he leaves this offseason.
Bob Bender, Memphis Grizzlies
Much like Smart, Bender was an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks when Fizdale was newer to the league. Bender, 61, is still with the Grizzlies.
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