With Phil Jackson now embedded at the top of the basketball decision-making hierarchy in New York, current Knicks head coach Mike Woodson would like a sit-down with his new boss, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. While Woodson has said the right things about Jackson, it’s no secret that his future with the Knicks is uncertain despite being under contract for next season.
The Knicks are hoping to hold Jackson’s introductory press conference on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, reports Berman, providing an opportunity for such a meeting to take place. Rumors have begun to swirl about Jackson installing his signature triangle offense in New York, which would likely necessitate a new coach. Woodson is hoping for fair consideration.
“I would want him to view me as a coach,’’ Woodson said. “If and when that time comes, I would just love the chance to sit with him and talk basketball. He’s a basketball guy, I’m a basketball guy. This is 30 years I’ve spent in this league so that’s what we’ll do, but until that happens my focus is strictly on trying to get this team in the playoffs. That’s it.’’
Berman lists Steve Kerr, Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw and Bucks assistant Jim Cleamons as former Jackson disciples who might draw consideration. He also mentions Nate McMillan as a “strong possibility” before implying that past tension with Jackson might dispel the possibility for Jeff Van Gundy‘s return to New York.
Monday it appeared that the Knicks felt they were close to a deal with Phil Jackson, but the Zen Master’s camp didn’t see the talks as nearing completion. We rounded up all the latest from Monday in a single post, and we’ll keep track of today’s updates on Jackson and the Knicks here.
- Knicks owner James Dolan has reportedly solicited the help of Bill Bradley as an intermediary in the team’s negotiations with Jackson, says Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Bradley is Jackson’s longtime friend and former teammate.
- Isola adds that Dolan and Bradley have been working together to finalize an agreement that would make Jackson the highest-paid executive in NBA history, with a deal that could pay in excess of $15MM annually.
- A source close to Jackson indicates that the two sides have had preliminary discussions about Jackson possibly owning a minority stake in the team.
- The Knicks have competition for Jackson, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who hears that the Pistons are “very much in the mix” for the Zen Master with Joe Dumars unlikely to return. The Cavs have reached out as well, although their interest is “somewhat muddied” at present, Kyler writes.
- Still, it’s “highly unlikely” that Jackson will return to the Lakers, Kyler adds.
- Steve Kerr reiterated to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv today that he would like to coach in the NBA, though he didn’t address the Knicks specifically. If Jackson hires Kerr, Kyler suggests he’ll go after Cavs interim GM David Griffin to run the day-to-day operations for the Knicks.
- Reports that Jackson is strongly leaning toward taking the Knicks job are “greatly exaggerated,” a source close to Jackson tells Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio.
- The Knicks are “very confident” they’ll finalize a deal with Jackson by the end of the week, though a formal announcement might not come until next week, a source tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com. The Knicks don’t feel as though Jackson would take a job with the Lakers or another club at this point. Jackson would gain control of the Knicks basketball operations department, displacing Mills, but Mills would remain an “integral” part of the team even if Jackson is hired, Broussard writes.
- A source tells Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that the meeting in which Steve Mills spoke to Jackson about coaching the team was a “disaster.” Jackson doesn’t want to work with Mills, the source says. Mills would retain a role of some sort within the organization if Jackson came aboard, but he wouldn’t be active in day-to-day operations, according to Isola. Mills has been committed to the idea of firing Mike Woodson, though he’s against hiring an interim coach and would prefer to go after marquee names in the offseason. Isola identifies John Calipari, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Tom Thibodeau as likely candidates for a Mills-led search, but it’s unclear if Jackson would go after any of the same.
- In any case, it’s clear that owner James Dolan, and not Mills or anyone else in the Knicks organization, is negotiating with Jackson now, Isola writes in a separate piece, adding that the salary on the table for the Zen Master is believed to be $12MM a year. Isola suggests that if Jackson takes the job, he’s “destined” to bring in his own front office staff, including a new general manager to run the day-to-day operations. Isola speculates that Byron Scott and Kurt Rambis could become coaching candidates in this scenario. Still, the Daily News scribe wonders if Jackson is using the Knicks offer to finagle a job with the Lakers, citing general managers from around the league who say that his heart lies with the purple-and-gold.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post contradicts Isola with regard to Mills, writing that the current Knicks president and general manager would retain a similar role if Jackson came aboard because of Mills’ aplomb with handling agents. Agents question Jackson’s sincerity, Isola notes.
- Berman also writes in his piece that Woodson will probably have to make the second round of the playoffs to keep his job.
The Bobcats are going to be buyers at the trade deadline, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.com. With the Bobcats having exceeded expectations this season, and with the overall weakness of the Eastern Conference, the team will try and bolster their roster for a playoff push. The team has been actively shopping Ben Gordon‘s expiring $13.2MM contract, and would be willing to part with a first-round pick for the right player. Charlotte will surrender their pick to the Bulls if it falls out of the top ten, but might still have two first-rounders in this year’s draft. They are owed the Pistons first-round pick (top-eight protected), as well as the Trail Blazers pick (top-12 protected). According to Kennedy, the Bobcats have already inquired about the Sixers Evan Turner, and the Bulls Taj Gibson.
More from around the East:
- The Pacers have sent Orlando Johnson to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA D-League, the team announced via press release. This is Johnson’s first D-League assignment this season. In the 2012/13 season, he played four games with the Mad Ants, averaging 23.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.3 APG. He’s appeared in 36 games this season for the Pacers, and has averaged 2.5 PPG. and 1.4 RPG, while playing 9.4 MPG.
- Chris Johnson is “thrilled” that the Celtics are signing him for the rest of the season, writes Baxter Holmes of Boston.com. “I just have to give thanks to Danny Ainge for bringing me in and giving me the opportunity, Brad Stevens for giving me the opportunity to play when guys were injured, and my teammates for just giving me confidence,” Johnson said. In eight games this year, Johnson is averaging 7.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG. 1.3 APG, while playing 21.6 MPG.
- The issues between Pistons guard Will Bynum and coach Maurice Cheeks might not be over. Bynum and Cheeks had to be separated from a sideline confrontation during Wednesday’s loss to the Magic. Bynum doesn’t regret the incident, writes Brendan Savage of M Live.com. According to Cheeks, the two hadn’t spoken about the incident, and Cheeks became testy when pressed. Bynum said, “I don’t regret it. I regret the fact that maybe I was a bit too passionate about it. But other than that, no.” Bynum also said he has no plans to approach his coach about the matter.
- Nerlens Noel has ramped up his rehab activities, writes Dei Lynam of CSN Philly.com, but the team still isn’t saying if he’ll make his return to the court this season. The Sixers have 32 games remaining, but there is still a long checklist ahead of Noel before he would make his NBA debut, according to the team. With Spencer Hawes being rumored to be on the trading block, it’s unclear if him being moved would affect Noel’s status.
- Jeff Van Gundy believes that many Eastern Conference teams have “chosen to be bad” this season, writes Steve Reed of the Associated Press. To be clear, Van Gundy is talking about “tanking” for a better lottery pick. He wouldn’t name specific teams, but observed that the problem was real, and blames the current lottery system for the issue. He also stated, “It doesn’t necessarily mean the guys on the floor aren’t trying hard, but it means teams have put some really bad rosters on the floor. A lot of teams right now are happy with losing and that’s really too bad for the league. That’s too bad for the fans.”
- Knicks owner James Dolan reportedly met with Carmelo Anthony and at least one player after Wednesday night’s game, writes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. The topic was the state of the team, and whether or not a coaching change was in order. The team’s front office is divided on keeping Mike Woodson, and there have been multiple reports that the coach is on the hot seat.
The Knicks endured another loss Wednesday, and though they put up a fight against a strong Blazers team, New York fell to 19-30, and rumors persist that Mike Woodson could soon lose his job. Here’s the latest:
- The Knicks have discussed making assistant coach Herb Williams interim head coach if they fire Woodson, reports Steve Popper of The Bergen Record. The team would also get rid of most of Woodson’s assistants in that scenario, Popper writes, adding that Larry Johnson is a candidate to serve as an assistant under Williams.
- Woodson’s firing would set up a summer pursuit of Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy and Stan Van Gundy, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The Knicks would pass over assistants Darrell Walker and Jim Todd, both of whom have head coaching experience, because the team believes they’re too closely allied with Woodson, Berman adds.
- J.R. Smith says he is “without a doubt” fearful that Woodson will lose his job, Newsday’s Al Iannazzone tweets. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com has more from last year’s Sixth Man of the Year. “I love Coach Woodson,” Smith said. “I think he’s done a great job. But it’s out of my hands. So I would hope not [if management opts to make a change], but if it does then we have to live with it.”
- Jeff Van Gundy would want a major payday, control over the team’s basketball operations, and a relaxation of the team’s draconian media rules if he were to agree to coach the Knicks, sources tell ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
- In the same piece, Smith opines that the Knicks should realize how unattractive they are to free agents and trade Carmelo Anthony before the deadline rather than risk him leaving in the offseason.
- Woodson admits the season has been a supreme disappointment, as Ian Begley notes via Twitter. “This year, for me, has been kind of a disaster from a coaching standpoint … and trying to get players to play at a high level,” Woodson said.
Since Knicks owner James Dolan gave Mike Woodson a public vote of confidence on November 20 (while the team sported a 3-8 record), New York has gone 6-11 over their last 17 games. Among those losses include a 41-point defeat to the Celtics at home, a 15-point loss to the Cavaliers two days later, and a one-point heartbreaker at the hands of the Wizards, in which the Knicks failed to call a timeout with ample time left to set up a final play. Ian Begley of ESPN New York writes that no one from the team’s ownership or front office has commented publicly on Woodson’s status over the last few days, although it appears that the players – especially outspoken center Tyson Chandler – still offer their support.
Here’s what we’ve heard out of the Atlantic Division tonight, including more from Begley’s piece:
- Despite the Knicks struggles, Woodson is still confident that the team can and will win the Atlantic Division title: “Eventually, we’ll get healthy and we’ll see how it all plays out. The beauty about all of this that we’re going through is nobody’s running away with it in our division, and I’m pushing our team to win our division still…We won it last year, and I expect us to win it this year.”
- Marc Berman of the New York Post thinks that the four-day break between New York’s upcoming home-and-home series against Toronto and their Texas triangle trip would be the window in which Dolan could make a coaching change if he ultimately decided to. Otherwise, the Knicks owner could wait until the offseason, where names such as Jeff Van Gundy or Lionel Hollins may become available.
- Conditioning is deemed to be the biggest hurdle between Rajon Rondo and his return from rehab. Though Rondo was reportedly “huffing and puffing” after practice, the 27-year-old point guard participated extensively in drills today, as Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston details: “Rondo raced up and down the court during sprint-heavy drills, tried to take charges as teammates attacked in odd-man breaks, and even dunked off his left leg at one point. He seemed to be pushing himself hard as Boston engaged in its first practice after a three-day holiday break.”
- A source confirms to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the 76ers have assigned Lorenzo Brown to their D-League affiliate, the 87ers. Earlier today, we noted that Bob Cooney of the Daily News was the first to relay notice of those plans. You can read the team’s official press release here.
- RealGM’s Shams Charania writes about how Michael Carter-Williams‘ young stardom has reminded Philadelphia of the way Allen Iverson once carried the Sixers franchise. The 6’6 point guard also offered his thoughts about how outside talk of tanking helped motivate him to compete hard this year.
- Tim Bontemps of the New York Post notes the Nets’ inability to respond when challenged with adversity this season, shifting focus on Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce‘s inability to instill the toughness and fortitude expected of them after being acquired from Boston this past summer.
The Knicks’ poor play means that Mike Woodson might still be in danger of losing his job, but Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that Woodson doesn’t believe he has to prove himself to anyone: ”I’m not trying to convince anyone…I’m trying to take our team as it is and do the best job we can do.” Berman notes that since owner James Dolan gave Woodson his vote of confidence early this season, the Knicks have gone 2-9. Here’s more from New York and the Eastern Conference:
- Jeff Van Gundy says there isn’t any merit to the rumors claiming he might replace Woodson as coach for the Knicks, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reveals. “It’s annoying because it’s not true,” said Van Gundy. “I don’t think for one minute Mike Woodson is in any trouble nor should he be because he has proven himself to be an outstanding coach.“
- Rajon Rondo spoke out and said he hasn’t been in contact with Carmelo Anthony about potentially signing with the Knicks down the road, reports Royce Young of CBSsports.com: “I haven’t spoken to him. He ain’t contacted me. It’s just rumors.“
- It’s no secret the Pacers are seeking to earn the highest seed in the East year, and besting the Heat last night in Indiana proves they’re capable of challenging Miami for the top spot. Wheat Hotchkiss at NBA.com examines how important offseason acquisitions C.J. Watson and Luis Scola have been to Indiana’s success this year.
- John Salmons is happy to be in Toronto, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. It’s been seven years since Salmons turned down a five-year, $23MM deal to play for the Raptors in order to ink a similar deal with the Kings.
- An Insider piece by Bradford Doolittle of ESPN examines the key decisions that the Bulls’ front office will face in the near future, including the decision of whether or not to amnesty Carlos Boozer. Opting to retain the veteran forward will probably delay European superstar Nikola Mirotic’s arrival in Chicago, notes Doolittle.
We’re less than an hour before tip-off between the Atlantic Division’s cellar dwelling Knicks and Nets, and despite both teams’ struggles to start the season, one of the two will be able to avoid sinking further for now with a win tonight. Here’s some of the latest out of Manhattan and Brooklyn:
- SB Nation’s Tom Ziller goes into detail about what’s ailing the Knicks and Nets, how both teams should fare over the course of the season, and what may be in store if things continue to go poorly.
- To those who doubt that Knicks owner James Dolan would be willing to work with Jeff Van Gundy again after the latter’s abrupt in-season exit over a decade ago, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reminds us that in April 2008, Van Gundy had been considered for the the head coaching job by then-team executive Donnie Walsh. Isola also states that Dolan approved of the team’s interest in Van Gundy back then as well, although the former head coach would later tell Walsh that he wasn’t interested (Twitter links).
- Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld ponders what the current trade market for Carmelo Anthony is, and, considering that the Knicks star has the option to become an unrestricted free agent after this season and/or won’t necessarily have to commit long-term elsewhere if traded, argues that the team will have no other choice but to explore low-ball offers at this point.
- Following last season’s team exit interview, Mike Woodson was under the impression that Jason Kidd would be returning for another season with the Knicks, and was caught off-guard by the 40-year-old point guard’s retirement: “Absolutely I thought he was coming back…I did. I was surprised. Jason spent a long time in this league. He has the right to retire and move on. Obviously he had something else going and wound up here as a head coach. We would’ve loved to have him back. It wasn’t the case” (Marc Berman of the New York Post via Sulia).
We’ve already taken a look at one struggling New York team this morning, having rounded up a few Nets updates. Let’s head over to Manhattan and check in on the city’s other sub-.500 NBA franchise….
- Appearing on ESPN Radio in New York today, Jeff Van Gundy dismissed speculation that he might replace Mike Woodson as the Knicks’ head coach, suggesting that the team’s problems are roster-related rather than coaching-related (all Twitter links via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News).
- Jeremy Tyler has returned to action for the D-League’s Erie BayHawks and the Knicks are “closely monitoring” his progress, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. A source tells Berman (Twitter link) that New York will likely wait at least three to five games before considering re-adding Tyler, who was in camp with the team before undergoing stress fracture surgery.
- Daniel Leroux of RealGM.com examines what the Knicks’ future core might look like, particularly if the team decides Carmelo Anthony isn’t the answer as the long-term cornerstone of the roster.
We heard last night that Knicks veterans Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin had a heated exchange on Sunday prior to the team’s game against the Pelicans, a contest in which Iman Shumpert and Carmelo Anthony had a confrontation of their own. As Marc Berman of the New York Post details, those are just the two latest incidents in a string of run-ins dating back to Halloween, when Shumpert and Tyson Chandler got into a shouting match over a defensive breakdown. World Peace and Tim Hardaway Jr. also had a recent confrontation, according to Berman.
Our own Zach Links pointed out last night that the Knicks’ recent discord can’t be a good sign for the job security of coach Mike Woodson. The club’s nine-game losing streak isn’t helping matters either. Here’s more on the Knicks and their crosstown rivals, as the two teams prepare to meet in Brooklyn on Thursday night:
- Knicks owner James Dolan gave Woodson a vote of confidence last month, but that doesn’t apply indefinitely, as Berman writes in a second piece. Noting that Dolan is “obsessed” with the Nets, Berman suggests that a loss on Thursday could trigger a major move — perhaps either a trade or a coaching change.
- If the Knicks decide to replace Woodson, the team would be open to bringing back Jeff Van Gundy, who likely would have interest in the position, says Berman. A potential Van Gundy return may be more likely in the offseason rather than during the season, however. Berman adds that JVG may want input on personnel decisions if he returns to coaching, which could be a factor in whether or not he makes his way back to New York.
- Jason Kidd‘s seat in Brooklyn isn’t as hot as Woodson’s, but Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post wonders if the Nets regret not hiring Brian Shaw. As Dempsey details, the current Nuggets coach looked like the frontrunner for the Brooklyn job earlier this year, before Kidd emerged practically out of nowhere.
- According to Mirza Teletovic‘s agent Misko Raznatovic, he and his client are interested in a trade that would sent Teletovic to a team that would give him more playing time. The Sarajevo Times passes along the quotes from Raznatovic on the little-used Nets forward (hat tip to Sportando).
As I noted yesterday when examining the longest-tenured coaches in the NBA, four teams – the Pistons, 76ers, Nets, and Clippers – are still in the market for a new head coach, while a couple other positions could open up later in the offseason. In addition to those head coaching openings, plenty of assistants are being hired, or moving from one NBA team to another. Here are today's rumors on those head coaching searches and the assistant coaching carousel:
- Although the Clippers have asked and received permission to speak to Lionel Hollins, the Nets' initial request to speak to Hollins was turned down, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter links). Tillery adds that Brooklyn has yet to make another request since being denied on the day after the Grizzlies' season ended.
- No teams have requested permission yet to speak to Grizzlies assistant Dave Joerger, but the Sixers are believed to have interest, tweets Tillery.
- A report yesterday indicated that the Nets and Sixers were among the teams that have contacted Larry Brown about their head coaching openings. Brown threw cold water on that report today though, according to John N. Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer, saying he's happy at SMU. CSNPhilly.com, meanwhile, reports that Brown would likely have interest in returning to the NBA if it meant running a franchise. I'd be surprised if anything came of this.
- Less than 24 hours after ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Chris Broussard reported that Brian Shaw was a "serious target" for the Nets, Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports that Shaw also appears to be the Clippers' top choice at this point. Since no official interviews have been conducted yet, the situation remains fluid, but the Clippers are intrigued by Shaw's youth, championship experience, and developmental skills, according to Shelburne.
- Talks between Jeff Van Gundy and the Clippers have cooled, and the team has yet to ask permission to speak to Nuggets coach George Karl, though he remains a possible target. Lionel Hollins, Byron Scott, and Alvin Gentry also remain under consideration for Los Angeles, says Shelburne.
- Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times provides the same list of contenders for the Clippers' job, though he's even more bearish on the likelihood of the team hiring Van Gundy, writing that he's essentially "out of the running." Shaw, meanwhile is gaining momentum for the position, according to Turner.
- Although the Pistons' search appears to have been narrowed down to Nate McMillan and Maurice Cheeks, there's no guarantee a decision happens this week, sources tell David Mayo of MLive.com.
- Following up on a report from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News last week which suggested Patrick Ewing could be hired as an assistant in Charlotte, Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com says Ewing is interviewing for the Bobcats' lead assistant job today. The former Knicks big man has also received interest from the Kings, writes Haynes.
- Newly-hired Kings head coach Michael Malone is also talking to Ohio State assistant Chris Jent about joining his staff in Sacramento, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
- Yet another Lakers assistant coach appears to be on his way out of L.A., as Darvin Ham will talk to the Bobcats and Hawks about a spot on their respective staffs, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.