The Knicks fired former head coach David Fizdale back in December after a meager 21-83 record during his tenure in New York, including a 4-18 start to the 2019-20 season. Mike Miller, an assistant at the time, took over as head coach to finish out another disappointing season for the Knicks.
Miller did an admirable job in the interim, going 17-27 to finish out the season.
The Knicks’ new president of basketball operations, Leon Rose, is now tasked with his first big assignment as a decision-maker, as he faces a critical moment in the franchise’s future.
Miller will be interviewed for the full-time position, in addition to Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson, and former Knicks coach Mike Woodson. Thibodeau and Atkinson are viewed as the favorites to land the job, while a plethora of other out-of-the-box candidates is being considered as well.
Rose is casting a wide net thus far — a refreshing approach for a fanbase used to impulsive decisions made by previous front offices. Mired in mediocrity for what feels like forever, Rose will leave no stone unturned, as he continues his quest towards rebuilding this Knicks franchise.
High-Profile Names Enter The Fold
Outside of the initial candidates mentioned above, Jason Kidd, Mike Brown, and Becky Hammon were other names generating serious interest amongst Knicks personnel.
Kidd, the favorite to land the Lakers job last offseason, wound up as an assistant coach under Frank Vogel. Kidd had an uneven beginning to his head coaching career in Milwaukee but is still viewed as one of the brightest minds in basketball.
A former Knick himself, Kidd would be well equipped to handle the New York spotlight and would be an excellent mentor to a young core in need of guidance. Kidd would do wonders for rookie RJ Barrett’s development and would be best suited to revive a disappointing beginning to third-year guard Frank Ntilikina’s career.
Meanwhile, Mike Brown’s name may come as a surprise, as he’s served as an assistant coach under Steve Kerr in Golden State for several years now. His last head coaching gig was in Cleveland back in 2014, where he went 306-191 in six seasons.
Lastly comes Becky Hammon, who’s served as an assistant to Gregg Popovich in San Antonio for several years now. She is the most polarizing candidate being reported, as she’d be the first female head coach in American professional sports.
Dark Horse Candidates
Rose plans to interview a handful of lower-profile candidates, leaving a variety of assistant coaches in the mix. Given the current uncertainty surrounding the NBA, Rose could be patient in his approach, picking the brains of some of the great young minds in basketball.
Ime Udoka, Pat Delany, Chris Fleming, Will Hardy, and Jamahl Mosley have emerged as potential head coaching options for Rose, as they have all received incredibly high praise at their current positions.
Udoka is in his first year as an assistant coach with Philadelphia after spending the last eight seasons under Popovich’s tutelage in San Antonio. Udoka is a former player, including a short stint with the Knicks back in 2006.
Delany has been an assistant under head coach Steve Clifford for six years now in Orlando and Charlotte and has been in the NBA for nearly two decades. Delany has tremendous experience, but would still be an underwhelming hire given what else is out there.
Fleming is the lead assistant in Chicago, which isn’t all that impressive considering the current state of the Bulls franchise. However, Fleming still possesses a strong basketball background and could make for a great hire if given the opportunity.
Will Hardy has been the Spurs’ summer league head coach for four seasons and is another guy who has received great praise from Popovich. He’s only 31 years old and has been viewed as the potential heir apparent in San Antonio when Pop retires.
Dallas Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley has built his brand on analytics, serving as the analytics guru under Mark Cuban’s guide. He would be a fascinating hire for Rose to consider, as he’s sure to make a great impression on the Knicks front office.
Many of these names likely won’t make it past the first interview, but it’s still interesting to see how Rose is commanding his first coaching search as president of the Knicks. New York finally appears to be in good hands, but time will tell as to whether or not Rose can overcome bad ownership to make this franchise a contender again.