Storyline: Knicks Coaching Job

72 rumors in this storyline

More Rumors in this Storyline

The Charlotte Hornets will act quickly to interview San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for their head-coaching opening, as soon as the Spurs season is complete. A source familiar the situation said Messina will interview as early as the middle of next week, if the Spurs are eliminated by the Golden State Warriors by then. Ettore coached the Spurs in Thursday’s loss to the Warriors, as head coach Gregg Popovich mourned the death of his wife, Erin.

David Lee will leave for the French Open in 10 days. He hopes before heading to Paris with fiancée Caroline Wozniacki that Mark Jackson is named the Knicks head coach. The ex-Knicks/ex-Warriors power forward played for Jackson in Golden State for all three of Jackson’s seasons. “He has a very smart perspective looking at the game,’’ Lee told The Post in a phone interview. “Especially dealing with what you want in New York, you need somebody to understand the landscape. “Coaching and playing in New York is different than any city. You see it in baseball — superstars play for the Yankees either thrive or shy away from the situation. Mark understands the difference in New York basketball. He’s from there. He understands the politics, the fans, things involved unique to the Knicks. That’s an advantage he has.’’

Dolan said he is searching for a coach who will be able to manage his assistants and attendant organizational functions while also being able to delegate authority. “The old-style coaching doesn’t work,” Dolan said. “A coach who tries to do everything himself isn’t going to be successful. “The coaching search for the Knicks is similar in a lot of ways to the Rangers. I think the teams are in similar spots. We’re looking for people to develop players and to create a winning team. We have our lists of candidates, but the lists are still open.”

My best read, with the Knicks just beginning the interview phase of their search, is that they’re most likely to choose one of three veteran coaches — unless the emerging Jerry Stackhouse wows them face to face. Those three coaches, in alphabetical order, are: David Blatt, David Fizdale and Mark Jackson. The link between Blatt and Knicks president Steve Mills from their days together at Princeton is well known by now. Blatt badly wants to return to the N.B.A. in the wake of his abbreviated stint with Cleveland and, because of those ties to Mills, has to be viewed as a contender here. Yet some in coaching circles believe the choice is more likely to come down to Fizdale vs. Jackson.

Miracles do happen. After years of frostiness following his resignation in 2001, Jeff Van Gundy could yet be in the mix for the Knicks’ job. Though Van Gundy appears a long shot, multiple sources told The Post that Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry spoke to his representatives Saturday. It is unclear, however, who made the first phone call. Knicks management also has talked with Mark Jackson’s agents, meaning the two broadcast partners and friends are now officially in the hunt for the same job.

Contacted by The Post on Saturday, Woodson said he hadn’t heard from the Knicks yet, but would love to. Woodson, who has been Doc Rivers’ top assistant with the Clippers the past four seasons, was the Knicks’ most successful head coach since Jeff Van Gundy, guiding them to their most recent playoff berth, in 2012-13, when the club posted a 54-28 record. “I don’t want to hide the fact I’d love to be back,’’ Woodson told The Post in a phone interview. “I’d like to finish what I started. At the end of the day, you want to come to New York, based on my body of work there. I want it to be mutual. I want them to want me. I hope they call me.’’

But asked if he would be interested if team president Steve Mills asked him for an interview, Van Gundy, Friday on “The Michael Kay Show” said: “I always keep changing my answer to the same question. Now that the job is available, I can say I just don’t talk about coaching searches. I don’t think it does anybody any good. It doesn’t do me any good, the teams any good. If teams want to comment, that’s their right. For myself, it’s so much better not to get drawn in those type of conversations publicly. You guys know I’m a huge Knicks fan and I want what’s best for them. Whatever they decide, I hope it works for them.’’

Appearing on the “Bernie and Sid’’ WABC radio show Friday morning, Thomas gave endorsements for both former Knicks point guards. Kidd, who coached for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, played one season here when the Knicks staged their most successful season since the Jeff Van Gundy years, at 54-28 in 2012-13. They haven’t made the playoffs since Kidd abruptly retired. “When you talk about Jason and Mark Jackson, I‘m big fans and know both those guys personally,’’ said Thomas, who has maintained his friendship with Knicks owner James Dolan. “They’ve both been exceptional players. They are extremely bright. They know the game. They both have won in this league at a very high level and have coached at a high level. When you talk about those two, knowing the game and knowledge of the game and understanding today’s players, you couldn’t go wrong with either one of those choices.’’

Mike Vorkunov: Van Gundy: “I love coaching. I love what I do now.” He talks around the Knicks job. Of James Dolan, he says: “I think the misconception of my time there was that Mr. Dolan wasn’t good to work for.” Says Dolan gave the team the resources to win when he was there.

Jeff Hornacek said Wednesday morning that he hopes to be able to finish what he started and follow through with the plan that he and Knicks president Steve Mills put together after Phil Jackson was fired last summer. “We started it and we’d like to continue it, continue with this team to grow,” Hornacek said leaning against a wall outside the visiting locker room at the morning shootaround. “It’s very satisfying for coaches to take a team and build it and grow it. You can look around the league at some of the teams that are now some of the better teams in the league. They went through those same type of things.

NBA officials are convinced Mills and Perry will look to bring in their own guy. There’s no shortage of potential candidates — Mark Jackson, Dave Fizdale, Doc Rivers, Jason Kidd, Jerry Stackhouse and David Blatt have all been mentioned in speculation. “That’s part of the NBA,’’ Lee said of the coach’s uncertainty. “Trade deadline, everybody is in trade talks, everybody is in free-agent talks. You got to go about your business. You can’t let that distract you and that’s the same thing for [coaches]. They hear the talk. You still have to go about your job so it’s all the same. It’s all about being professional.”

In another bizarre episode Monday, after Kemba Walker tied it with 17 seconds left in regulation, Burke, feeling the hot hand, waved off Hornacek’s attempt to call a timeout. Burke then waved off the playcall — an attempt by Luke Kornet to set a pick — and ultimately botched the possession with a last-ditch, buzzer-beating airball. As Hornacek’s Knicks stint winds down to perhaps its final seven games, players may be displaying a level of rebellion that could be expected when led by a coach they know may not be back next season. The feeling around the league is Hornacek won’t be brought back by Steve Mills and Scott Perry and that the club may target Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson.

Meanwhile, according to an NBA source, the Noah-O’Quinn shouting incidents weren’t the first time the lame-duck Knicks coach got profanities thrown his way by a Knicks player. The source told The Post that late last season, Kristaps Porzingis, normally the politest of souls, cursed out Hornacek during a practice, using the F-word. While players and coaches get at it behind closed doors more than you’d think, the Porzingis-Hornacek tiff partially underscored why Porzingis didn’t show up for his exit meeting. Phil Jackson wasn’t the lone target of his franchise disgruntlement.
More HoopsHype Rumors
April 21, 2018 | 10:03 pm EDT Update