Isiah Thomas: “I think in Ja we are watching the next generation of the great point guards that have been coming through our league. You have that group of Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, John Wall and so forth, but for the younger generation of point guards, I think Ja – who is projected to win the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year award – is going to be leading that evolution of great point guard play.”
Coach Rivers had a top-five shooting squad as well. “Dirk at the five,” Rivers said. “I would put Durant at the three. Steph at the point, because that’s what you’d need. I would put Kobe in there because of his ability to drive. Now the whole team changes. At the four I couldn’t even come up with one.” Austin contested that Ray Allen should be on his father’s top-five shooting squad, but Doc believed Kobe’s ability to drive superseded the argument. In addition to Kobe’s driving ability, the elder Rivers believed Kobe’s shooting would improve significantly on a squad of good shooters.
They were close to hiring Steve Kerr before he decided to take a job with Golden State. The Knicks also reached an advanced state of negotiations with Milwaukee’s Mike Budenholzer before hiring David Fizdale. Discussions between the Knicks and Budenholzer in the 2018 offseason advanced to a point where some people who would have come with Budenholzer to New York were talking about places to live in the city because they felt Budenholzer was close to taking the job, per SNY sources. Prior to Budenholzer’s interview with the Knicks, the New York Post reported that New York was Budenholzer’s top choice entering the offseason.
After the Warriors moved on from Mark Jackson as head coach in 2014, the search narrowed on two final candidates: former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and then-TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr. Former Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk was part of the team that interviewed both contenders and says the front office at one point wasn’t sure they’d even get a chance to sit down with Kerr during the process.
“Steve was being courted very hard by Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks,” Schlenk said on 95.7 The Game last week. “And at one point during the process, it felt like that’s where he was going to go. And so we didn’t think that we were going to even have an opportunity to really sit down and talk with Steve. And I believe it was while we were meeting with Stan down in Orlando, that Steve called Bob and said he kinda had a change of heart and he wanted to meet with us.”