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More on Knicks Coaching Job

Despite Thibodeau’s past whims, sources tell The Post he is wide open to change. It does not appear to be an issue. “He trusts Leon — that’s why,’’ one NBA source told The Post. While Rose and Thibodeau grew close at Creative Artists Agency, speculation he has a similar relationship with new vice president William Wesley has been overblown, according to another source. Wesley was a CAA consultant but they were closer when Thibs was in Chicago.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused monumental financial damage to NBA teams, losses that will continue to mount with the uncertainty of fans being allowed into the Garden for next season’s opener. Sources indicate Dolan still is willing to pay what it takes for a marquee new head coach. Figure the top candidates would want a four-year deal like Fizdale’s, even during times of economic hardship.
If Thibodeau is hired, the .589 winning percentage would be the highest of any head coach hired the past two seasons. “Detailed guy, knew his craft,’’ Oakley said. “He did what a coach is supposed to do, tell guys when they’re not doing stuff right or correct and show them. With a lot of teams now, some coaches don’t voice their opinions. He was an assistant coach who knew what he was doing. It’s what you put in is what you get out.’’
According to a league source, Thibodeau, despite having gone through two interviews like the 10 other confirmed candidates, has not been offered a contract or begun any sort of negotiations on a deal. With a report surfacing on the Knicks Film School podcast Tuesday morning that former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson interviewed Monday, it raised issues of just where the Knicks coaching search stands.
According to a source with knowledge of the talks, Atkinson’s interview was his second with the front office, which is believed to have completed the two rounds for all candidates. And it doesn’t change the fact that Thibodeau is still seen as the preferred candidate, but Atkinson's willingness to interview again at this late date did cause some head-scratching around the league about whether it might mean that the job is not the sure thing for Thibodeau.
Woodson, 62, the former Knicks head coach, is among several candidates who’ve met with team brass via video conference. Woodson, like frontrunner Tom Thibodeau, has a connection to team president Leon Rose and top Knicks executive William Wesley because they represented him at CAA as agents. It’s possible that Woodson, who owns the highest winning percentage of a Knicks coach since Jeff Van Gundy, is hired as an assistant if he’s bypassed for the top job.
Mike Miller, the current Knicks interim head coach, interviewed Tuesday for the full-time position, sources told The News. Tom Thibodeau, Jason Kidd, Will Hardy and Chris Fleming have also been formally interviewed, according to sources and various reports.
Tom Thibodeau, lead candidate to coach the Knicks, had his second interview with the club via Zoom on Thursday, an NBA source confirmed. Thibodeau, a former Knicks assistant and head coach of the Bulls and Timberwolves, has the inside track on the job.
Thibodeau was represented by Creative Artist Agency when Leon Rose and William Wesley — now members of the Knicks front office — ran its basketball department and have a strong rapport. Rose is interviewing at least 11 candidates and already finished interviews with coaches in the Orlando bubble — Jason Kidd, Ime Udoka, Pat Delaney and Jamahl Mosley.
When Kidd got rebuffed, he jumped to the Bucks, run by opportunistic New York-based owners, Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. “I wouldn’t hire Jason Kidd if he was the last coach standing,’’ said an NBA source who has worked with Kidd. “It would be a terrible choice. There’s a reason Milwaukee is in the place where they are right now — coaching.’’
When Kidd got rebuffed, he jumped to the Bucks, run by opportunistic New York-based owners, Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. “I wouldn’t hire Jason Kidd if he was the last coach standing,’’ said an NBA source who has worked with Kidd. “It would be a terrible choice. There’s a reason Milwaukee is in the place where they are right now — coaching.’’
“He’s a Hall of Fame player and young innovative coach who learned from his past mistakes,’’ said one personnel man familiar with the Knicks’ interest. “I think the Knicks’ young players would relate to him. Whether a factor for Giannis, wherever [Kidd] goes to coach, that team most definitely will have a seat at that dinner table when the time comes.”
Ian Begley: Knicks were not on call today about 'second bubble' because they had a previously scheduled interview with a coach, source with knowledge of club's thinking told SNY. Knicks have been in close communication with NBA, other GMs about any further plans involving 8 teams not in ORL
There has been a prevailing thought that Tom Thibodeau is the favorite for the Knicks coaching vacancy and he picked up another endorsement Wednesday from an all-time Knicks’ great. Patrick Ewing, appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio’s Starting Lineup Wednesday morning, spoke of Thibodeau’s candidacy enthusiastically.
“I think Tom’s a great coach,” Ewing said. “I had the opportunity to have him be on the staff when I played and also work with him. He’s been around a lot of years. He knows the game in and out. He’s going to do everything he needs to do in terms of having his team prepared to play every night. I think he’d be a great candidate for that job.”
Brad Turner: Sources: Knicks asked Lakers GM Rob Pelinka for permission to talk with Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd for NY’s head coaching vacancy. Kidd spoke with the Knicks Friday. The two sides hope to talk in person before the Lakers head to Orlando to be in the “bubble.”
“One, he showed me professionalism, really how to be a student of the game; studying the playbook, studying players…it’s like knowing your enemy better than it knows itself and being prepared. He’s always prepared. He always has a plan A,B,C,D,E,F and G so, that’s one thing that they’re going to get out of Coach Thibbs. Also he expects every player to practice, every player bring their A game and he preaches with defense first; if you play defense you will get offense. So if you want play offense, you got to play defense. I loved that about him and he’s just a hardnosed coach.”
No one would be more eager to stage practices of some form this summer than presumptive Knicks coaching favorite Tom Thibodeau. There’s been talk of an NFL version of “OTAs” (organized team activity) in July, August and September. According to an NBA source, the league is motivated to arrange OTAs for the eight teams to prevent players from showing up at random, uncontrolled summer league pickup-game environments.
The general impression, however, is the Knicks are a “long shot” to play another game, according to a person debriefed on the call. Indeed, the Knicks seem ambivalent about returning. If their season is over, president Leon Rose could begin a coaching search that will include keeping Mike Miller, but features Tom Thibodeau as top dog.
The Post reported in February that Thibodeau would be on Leon Rose’s short list and looked to be a favorite if the new team president chose not to bring back Mike Miller as head coach. While his reputation took a hit with the failure in bringing Jimmy Butler to Minnesota and allegedly mishandling young talent, sources told The Post the Nets and Houston will have strong interest, too. Houston’s Mike D’Antoni will be a free agent.
Thibodeau is confident he’ll get a job next season and has even been asking around the league for advice on picking the best opportunity, according to sources. The Knicks, Nets and Rockets are expected to have the three highest-profile coaching gigs available. Keep an eye on the Pelicans, Bulls and Hawks. Then there’s the big question of whether Gregg Popovich is returning for another season in San Antonio. Our advice for Thibodeau, if he lands a job, would be to hire a couple assistants who can connect and serve as a bridge with younger players.
There are two other potential Knicks candidates worth mentioning. John Calipari has publicly rejected the idea of leaving Kentucky but is so close to Knicks president Leon Rose that he should never be taken out of the mix. Mike Miller served well as the interim coach and team spokesman during a difficult three months for the organization. Word is that Rose was impressed.
Because of those on- and off-court performances, some prominent people at Madison Square Garden would like to see Miller have a role with the team next season, regardless of who Rose hires as the head coach, sources say.
“I’m not interested in the New York Knicks. No,” Stan Van Gundy said. “First of all, there’s a family history there. If anyone would be interested in that — and I’m not sure he is either — it would be my brother.”
“I’m not interested in the New York Knicks. No,” Stan Van Gundy said. “First of all, there’s a family history there. If anyone would be interested in that — and I’m not sure he is either — it would be my brother.”
Both the Knicks and the Nets have head coaching vacancies. And between the two open spots, Stan Van Gundy – a big-name coach on the market – says the more attractive gig is the one in Brooklyn. And it’s not even close. “Of the two the Nets are the better job. There’s no question about that right now,” Van Gundy said on ESPN radio. “The organization has been more stable. They’ve won more games. They have more talent.”
“I’m not interested in the New York Knicks. No,” said Van Gundy. “First of all, there’s a family history there. If anyone would be interested in that — and I’m not sure he is either — it would be my brother.” That would of course by his younger brother Jeff, who led the Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals and spent parts of seven seasons as head coach in the Garden. He’s 430-318 overall.
Mike Vorkunov: Leon Rose thanks coach Mike Miller for his "leadership & professionalism" in his letter to NYK fans. Miller has been asked to coach the team & become its public spokesperson in media vacuum Knicks created. He'll be the one answering questions tonite about Knicks hiring Rose too.
Mike Vorkunov: Leon Rose thanks coach Mike Miller for his "leadership & professionalism" in his letter to NYK fans. Miller has been asked to coach the team & become its public spokesperson in media vacuum Knicks created. He'll be the one answering questions tonite about Knicks hiring Rose too.
We reported Tuesday that Jay Wright would need to be overwhelmed by an offer to entertain the idea of leaving Villanova for the Knicks or any other NBA team. A separate NCAA source backed that assertion on Wednesday, saying that, at this point, the chance of Wright ending up as New York's next head coach was 'very remote.'
We know that Leon Rose has connections to Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy. Both are expected to get consideration from New York. But Rose - and his longtime business partner William 'World Wide Wes' Wesley - certainly have relationships with dozens of coaches around the NBA and NCAA. Included among that group is former Knick Mark Jackson and ex-Knicks head coach Mike Woodson.
During an interview with Joe Beningo and Evan Roberts on WFAN Sports Radio in New York, David Falk talked up the Knicks and Calipari. "I'm waiting for — I'll take bets on how long it's going to take before they hire John Calipari to be the next coach," Falk said. "I'd say 30 seconds. And I hope it works. I'm rooting for him to make it work."
"I really hope the Knicks get a lot better," Falk said. "If my boy 'World Wide Wes' — who I've known forever — is a part of the package, he's one of the great personalities I've ever met. Really well-connected guy. Really interesting person. I really hope it works. And I will take bets — despite the denials — I will take bets on Calipari being the (Knicks) coach next year."
Even Knicks wing Kevin Knox, who played for Calipari at Kentucky during the 2017-2018 season, doesn’t think Calipari would leave Kentucky for New York or the NBA. “When Cal says he’s not going to do something, he’s pretty solid he’s not going to do it,” Knox told reporters when asked. “I think he’s came out with multiple reports saying he didn’t want to do it. Cal loves Kentucky. He runs that state, the fans love him there. He’s got the basketball program on lock there, so I don’t think he will leave that opportunity to keep helping kids get to the NBA.”
The Knicks held a players-only meeting to rally support for their coach. But there was one problem: Fizdale was fired just hours later. Sources confirmed that Marcus Morris, who has been Fizdale’s top supporter in the locker room, led the session prior to Friday’s practice. It came on the heels of the Knicks getting blown out by the Nuggets on Thursday at the Garden.
Morris, according to a source, preached accountability and playing unselfishly, pointing the finger at himself as well as teammates, specifically Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. The message was well received by the players, a source said. Fizdale then conducted practice at the Tarrytown facility and was promptly fired afterwards.
Metta World Peace: If the @nyknicks is available, I definitely want to head coach there. I will absolutely bring that street mentality to the garden. Red brick , hard nose , let’s get it popping. QB . This would be epic for all people like me. Straight from the jungles to win a title in NYC. Blaat
Mike Vorkunov: David Fizdale coached the Knicks in practice today. A few hours later he was fired. He was asked post-practice if he was worried this would fall on him. “I don’t think about that stuff," he said at about 2:15 pm. "I don’t think about it at all."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Knicks also dismissed assistant Keith Smart, league source tells ESPN.
Beasley, who also got into a verbal spat on the sideline with Walton during the Lakers' 138-128 overtime victory in Oklahoma City just more than two weeks ago, repeatedly referred to Walton as "bro" during the exchange Saturday, which touched a nerve with the coach, a source told ESPN.
KC Johnson: Exec VP John Paxson and GM Gar Forman both attended today’s 2nd meeting. This is significant because, along with Paxson’s previously publicly stated goal for Boylen to return next season, it underscores the organizational mandate Boylen feels he has to push players.
Adam Zagoria: David Fizdale on a timetable for the #Knicks being a playoff team: "Our timetable is we're going to embrace the journey every single day to get better." Declines a specific timeframe. @theknicksblog @SNYtv
Mike Vorkunov: David Fizdale: "I used to tell my mom I was going to play in the mecca -- I would play in the Garden one day -- when I was a little kid. Ma, I didn’t get to do that." His mom, sitting front row: "That’s alright." Fizdale: "I’m gonna coach though."
Ian Begley: Knicks have hired David Fizdale as head coach. Owner James Dolan: “David is a bright and creative basketball mind who is highly respected throughout the NBA. I’m confident that Steve and Scott identified the right coach to lead this team to the success our loyal fans deserve.”
Ian Begley: Knicks GM Scott Perry called David Fizdale a ‘dynamic’ coach who will thrive in NY. “His championship pedigree, resiliency and expertise in player development make David well-suited to establish the Knicks as a consistent winning basketball team.”
Ian Begley: David Fizdale said he’s ‘honored’ & ‘humbled’ for the opportunity to coach the Knicks. “I appreciate the enormous responsibility it is to coach the Knicks and am ready to give my all to build the type of winning team the passionate fans of New York will be proud of.”
Regarding Juwan Howard, it's highly unlikely that he'll be joining David Fizdale's staff in New York, per sources. Potential candidates for staff additions include Keith Smart, who worked with Fizdale in Miami and Memphis and is likely to join as an assistant.
Ex-Knicks head coach Mike Woodson, who hired Fizdale when Woodson was a head coach in Atlanta, is also a candidate to join Fizdale's staff. Howard, a current Miami assistant, interviewed for the Knicks job. Fizdale may want him on his staff but Miami would have to give the Knicks permission to allow him to leave, which is highly unlikely. The New York Post earlier reported that Smart was likely to be added to Fizdale's staff. Another name to keep an eye on as an addition to the staff in some capacity? Memphis scout Adam Johansen, who worked with Fizdale in Miami and Memphis.
Why did a team that overachieved in Fizdale's first season suddenly pull the plug just 19 games into his second? The short answer is that he and Marc Gasol didn't get along. The complex reason, as league sources laid out, is that the partnership was doomed from the start. Carrying a mantra Fizdale liked to repeat — "the Miami Heat way" – he tried to completely overhaul a system and core that'd been successful for seven seasons and peaked with an appearance in the Western Conference finals.
"He wanted his own locker room," a Grizzlies source told the Daily News. "And he basically convinced management to get rid of Zach (Randolph), to get rid of Tony Allen." Trying to morph the Grizzlies was always going to strain a relationship with Gasol, and the toxicity reached a pivotal moment when, according to a source, Fizdale confronted the team about its lack of desire following a defeat. The coach went around the locker room asking each player if he believed he could win a championship. If they lacked belief, they didn't belong on the Grizzlies.
The younger players went along. Gasol, however, answered, "No." Then when asked for an explanation, Gasol replied, "We don't have the right leader." Fizdale had a solid comeback, but it couldn't have helped his future with Gasol. "I get it, you want Gregg Popovich, and I want LeBron James," the coach told his star player, according to a source.
The frosty relationship carried on for almost a year before Fizdale was fired in the middle of an eight-game losing streak. By that time, according to sources, Fizdale had alienated Gasol by disregarding the Spaniard's accomplishments — both in the NBA and overseas — and casting away Randolph and Allen. In pushing away Randolph, Fizdale even told the media that the two-time All-Star was no longer an NBA starter and moved him to the bench to audition for his next job. Privately, that didn't play well.
Smart and Fizdale were both assistant coaches in Miami and Fizdale brought Smart with him when he took the head coaching job in Memphis.
Lee spent parts of three seasons in Memphis and remains close with some players there. He knows of the fallout that Fizdale had with center Marc Gasol that ultimately cost him his job this past season. But Lee also has heard nothing but good things about the Knicks’ new coach. Lee also believes holding your best player accountable shouldn’t be viewed as a negative. “I just know that he’s a great players’ coach,” Lee said during a phone interview Friday. “He’ a guy that’s going to fight for what he believes in and fight for his team. He got that culture instilled in him in Miami. He was with [Erik] Spoelstra and with Pat Riley for a while. You saw the success they had in developing players and pushing for them playoff runs.
The hire was met with almost universal approval from Knicks players. They flooded Twitter and Instagram with welcoming messages after general manager Scott Perry texted them with the news. “I like him a lot,” Enes Kanter told The Athletic. “I think it’s amazing. Defensive-minded coach. I think it’s going to be good for the Knicks.”
Troy Williams, the Knicks swingman, played for him in Memphis and gushed over his hire. He remembers a coach who made him feel at ease with the team. Williams holds Fizdale in high esteem for his motivational tricks. He pointed to the Fizdale’s fluency in playing mind games, noting the coach riled him up last season during a game against Golden State. Fizdale accused Williams of playing scared and not hard enough, finding the right buttons to push, Williams said, to tweak him into a state of utilitarian anger on the court. “He’s a laid-back person himself but he brings out the best in a person,” Williams told The Athletic. “He puts people in the best positions.”
David Fizdale has agreed to a deal to become the next coach of the New York Knicks, league sources told ESPN. Fizdale met with Knicks owner James Dolan on Thursday in New York, who then gave his approval to president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to enter into contract negotiations with Fizdale, league sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Fizdale will sign a four-year contract with the Knicks, league source tells ESPN.
Michael Scotto: David Fizdale passed on a 4-year offer from the Phoenix Suns before eventually accepting a 4-year offer from the New York Knicks to become head coach, league sources told The Athletic.
Al Iannazzone: David Fizdale and the Knicks have an agreement in principle on a deal. An announcement and introductory press conference isn't expected until next week.
Vincent Goodwill: Although David Fizdale is the front-runner for the Knicks job, David Blatt and Mark Jackson are still firmly in the running, according to sources
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