The Knicks made it official on Friday, parting way with David Fizdale. Mike Miller will fill in as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season; however, following the completion of the 2019-20 campaign, New York will begin a search for yet another new head coach. Here’s a look at potential candidates they may be interested in:
* Jerry Stackhouse
Stackhouse excelled at the college level (at North Carolina) and in the pros, making the All-Star team twice as a Detroit Piston. He’s also already experienced success in his short coaching career. Stackhouse led the Raptors 905 (Toronto’s G League affiliate) to a championship in 2016-17 and was named the NBA D-League Coach of the Year that season as well. He then took the 905 back to the Finals in 2017-18. Stackhouse was a hot name in coaching circles back in 2018 and was purportedly a finalist for the Knicks job before New York zeroed in on Fizdale.
* Mark Jackson
Jackson’s coaching career and credentials are complicated. He posted a respectable 121-109 record during his three seasons in Golden State, advancing to the playoffs in his final two years there. Yet, despite the fact that he had a starting backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson for multiple seasons, the Warriors never posted a top-10 offense under Jackson. Golden State started a historic run of greatness after they jettisoned Jackson and replaced him with Steve Kerr. Jackson acolytes argue that he sowed the seeds that blossomed into Golden State’s current juggernaut. Others believe that removing Jackson from the mix was crucial in allowing the Warriors to reach their full potential. X’s and O’s aside, it is important to note that Jackson reportedly had a tumultuous relationship with his employers and some of his players. Consider this quote from plugged-in ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst from 2016: “I just know this: that if a team does background research on Mark with his old employers, it’s going to be a hard hurdle for him to clear. That’s not me. That’s people who might be hiring him have told me.”
* Jay Wright
While Wright doesn’t have any NBA experience, he’s proven himself as arguably the top college coach in the land. He’s led the Villanova Wildcats to two national championships in the last four years. The history of college coaches making the transition to the NBA is not overly encouraging, but Wright is unique in that his program’s success hasn’t been reliant on landing blue-chip recruits. Instead, Wright has thrived by demanding defensive intensity and installing an extraordinarily effective and efficient modern offense. Nonetheless, it would be shocking if Wright considered leaving the comfort and success of Villanova to enter the chaos that is the Knicks’ organization.
* Patrick Ewing:
Ewing is the greatest Knick of all-time, and it would be fascinating to see him return to the Garden. As Chris Sheridan of Forbes detailed yesterday, it would make sense for both New York and the Big Fella, who is currently dealing with a messy situation at Georgetown.
* Mike Miller:
Miller will have four-plus months to prove his worth to the Knicks front office. He performed well on the G League level, winning the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year Award in 2017-18 after leading the Westchester Knicks to a 32-18 record. In his four years in the G League, his Knicks finished in the top-5 in defense three times.
* Jason Kidd:
Kidd, who now serves as an assistant on Frank Vogel’s staff in LA, wasn’t seriously considered by Steve Mills and Scott Perry back in 2018. Thus, it’s unlikely he lands the gig this time around.
* Phil Jackson
Just kidding, wanted to make sure you were still paying attention.
* Jeff Van Gundy:
Van Gundy, who is adored by longtime Knicks fans, was incredibly successful during his run in New York. Especially when contrasted with the coaches that have come and gone since JVG skipped town. During his six seasons as head coach, the Knicks won 34 playoff games. In the 19 seasons since Van Gundy departed, the Knicks have won a grand total of seven playoff games. He’s also dipped his toe back in the coaching pool recently with Team USA in international competitions. The relationship between Van Gundy and owner James Dolan has been icy, but it’s possible that both sides may be ready to reconcile.
* Becky Hammon:
Hammon, who starred for the New York Liberty of the WNBA, has a chance to become the league’s first female head coach. She has drawn plenty of praise for her significant contributions working alongside Coach Popovich in San Antonio. According to a CNBC report, Hammon “would have interest in coaching the Knicks if she could land a long-term deal.”
* Kenny Smith:
Smith, a New York native, has let it be known he’s interested in becoming an NBA head coach. He reportedly interviewed for the Knicks job back in 2018. After Fizdale got the job, Smith joked that while Fiz may have been the “right choice” for New York, he was the “best choice.”
* Dave Joerger
In 2018-19, Joerger led the Kings to their best season since 2006. Yet, after the season, Kings general manager Vlade Divac, who had just received a four-year extension, fired his head coach. Joerger owns a 245-247 career record and is one of the more accomplished young coaches available.
* Pablo Prigioni
Prigioni, a former Knick and MSG fan favorite, would be a risky choice, as he has only been coaching for a couple of years. After retiring as a player in 2017, he joined the Brooklyn Nets as an assistant coach in 2018. Last summer, he was hired by the Minnesota Timberwolves as an assistant and coached the Wolves in the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League squad.
* Adrian Griffin
Griffin, who played collegiately at Seton Hall University, has bounced around the league as an assistant for the last ten years, earning plenty of praise along the way. He is currently serving as the lead assistant coach under Nick Nurse in Toronto.
* David Blatt:
Blatt, regarded by many as an offensive mastermind and long considered one of Europe’s premier coaches, made his much-anticipated NBA coaching debut under unusual circumstances. Back in 2014, the Cleveland Cavaliers brought him in after four straight losing seasons, in which they averaged 24.3 wins. They were hoping he could help lead a young team toward respectability and, eventually, the postseason. Everything changed when LeBron James surprisingly decided to return home to Ohio a few weeks after Blatt was hired. The expectations in Cleveland immediately shifted, and the most important voice in the locker room was clearly no longer going to be that of the head coach. Thus, Blatt never had an opportunity to impart his own imprint on an NBA team. It is also important to note that he has some very close connections within the Knicks front office. Blatt was teammates with Knicks’ president Steve Mills (and head of player development Craig Robinson) at Princeton under legendary head coach Pete Carril. However, Blatt announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, so it’s possible he is no longer interested/able to serve as a head coach.