Knicks president Phil Jackson has no plans to leave his job and rejoin the Lakers, Los Angeles co-owner and Jackson’s fiance Jeanie Buss said in a radio interview that was relayed by ESPN.com’s Ian Begley. Jackson has three seasons remaining on his Knicks’ contract, though he does have an opt-out clause after next season. “He’s committed to New York for many years,” Buss said in the ESPN Radio interview. “He’s building something there. He has a mission, he’s on that journey to get the team back to where he believes it can be and it will be.”
As the Warriors prepare for Monday’s Game 7 with the Thunder, Marc Berman of The New York Post offers a reminder that the results of Golden State’s last Game 7 prevented Steve Kerr from coaching the Knicks. After the Warriors lost to the Clippers in 2014, owner Joe Lacob decided to fire coach Mark Jackson. The team contacted the agent for Kerr, who had a verbal agreement with New York but nothing on paper. Kerr met with the Warriors and decided that was a better opportunity for him. With the expected hiring of Jeff Hornacek, the Knicks are now on their third coach since Kerr’s change of heart.
The Knicks currently don’t hold any picks in the 2016 NBA draft, having sent their first-rounder to Toronto and their second-rounder to Houston, but the team plans to trade back into the draft, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com. We’ve heard previously that the Knicks had been trying to acquire a pick, but Begley’s suggestion that they “plan” to land a pick sounds a little more definitive.
Of course, just because the Knicks intend to get back into the draft, that doesn’t mean it’s a slam-dunk — it takes two teams to make a deal. But there are a few clubs that have stockpiled picks and may not want to use all of them. Teams like Boston or Denver could be open to dealing with the Knicks, since those franchises hold 13 of this year’s 60 selections between them.
As our Eddie Scarito observed earlier this month, the Knicks still have up to $3.3MM that they can spend to purchase a draft pick if they’re unable to swing a deal involving a player for one. Armed with that flexibility, New York should be able to find a willing trade partner.
Assuming the Knicks do acquire a pick, it figures to be a second-rounder or something late in the first round, and the team has been eyeing prospects who figure to be available in that range. According to Begley, New York has expressed interest in Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell, Kansas guard Wayne Selden, and St. Bonaventure guard Marcus Posley, among others.
Of those names, only Posley has not yet been linked to the Knicks. The Knicks’ interest in Ferrell and Selden has been previously suggested, as the team scheduled a workout for the former, and interviewed the latter at the combine in Chicago.
The biggest beneficiaries from the Knicks hiring of Jeff Hornacek may be the team’s young point guards, Jerian Grant and Tony Wroten, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Hornacek, whose offense depends on strong point guard play, should immediately improve the team’s woeful backcourt production, Lewis notes. “Jeff played in the league for years, coached in Phoenix,” Grant’s father, Harvey, said of the new coach. “His system was mostly pick-and-roll. Jerian, once he learns the system, he can flourish in that system. And Jeff can tell him the ins and outs of being a guard in this league.”
- If Joakim Noah decides to leave the Bulls this summer, the Knicks would have interest in signing him, provided it was at a discounted rate, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report relays (Twitter links). Beck points to Noah’s New York roots and the mutual respect between the big man and team president Phil Jackson as reasons the two parties could come together, but adding that Noah’s potential desire to start could prove problematic.
- Malik Newman will work out for the Knicks on Tuesday, Zagoria reports (Twitter link). Newman previously worked out for the Bucks and Nets.
- Jerry Sichting, Jeff Hornacek’s offensive assistant with the Suns, could land an assistant coaching job with the Knicks under Hornacek, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Sichting was let go against Hornacek’s wishes last season while Corey Gaines, another former Hornacek assistant who was not retained by the Suns after the season, is also a candidate to join Hornacek’s staff, Berman continues. Hornacek is not expected to retain ex-coach Derek Fisher’s hires of former Thunder assistants Brian Keefe, Joshua Longstaff and David Bliss.
Knicks president Phil Jackson‘s decision to hire Jeff Hornacek caught former interim coach Kurt Rambis by surprise, Ian Begley of ESPN.com reports. It was largely expected that Rambis would have a role with the organization earlier this month, but his future with the Knicks is less clear now, Begley writes. Hornacek has to decide whether to retain assistants Jim Cleamons, Rasheed Hazzard, Josh Longstaff and Brian Keefe, as Begley notes. Keefe and Longstaff, in particular, are respected by many players for their hard work and selfless approach, according to Begley.
Here’s more on the Knicks:
- The move to hire Hornacek is Jackson’s final opportunity to correct the decision he made of bringing in Derek Fisher as Jackson’s first coach, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News opines. The hiring was a surprising one because Hornacek has no direct connection to Jackson, has never been involved with Jackson’s triangle offense and was at no point regarded as a front-runner for the job, Deveney writes. The extent of control that Jackson will allow Hornacek will be critical, Deveney adds.
- Eddie Johnson, who has the unique perspective of having been a former teammate of Hornacek and as the Suns’ TV analyst while Hornacek coached in Phoenix, believes Hornacek will utilize the pick-and-roll more often with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, Al Iannazzone of Newsday writes.
- Tyler Johnson, a restricted free agent this summer, would be a solid addition for the Knicks because he would fit into the triangle offense, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes in a list of free agent point guards that the Knicks may eye.
Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt plans to be on someone’s bench next season, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. After taking Cleveland to the NBA Finals last season, Blatt was fired in January with a 30-11 record. It’s a rare break for the 57-year-old, who has held coaching jobs around the world since 1993. “I’m going to coach next year,” Blatt said. “I’m not going to sit out. It’s not in my nature. I want to work. I’ll be back somewhere. Could be anywhere.” He added that he prefers a head coaching position overseas to working as an assistant in the NBA.
There’s more news from the Central Division:
- It’s time for the Bulls to break up the Derrick Rose–Jimmy Butler backcourt, argues K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Johnson says their relationship has become “untenable” because both players consider themselves to be the team leader, both need the ball in their hands to be most effective and neither has the 3-point shooting skills to complement the other. Johnson believes Rose’s injury history would make him difficult to deal, even though he only has one season left on his contract at $21.3MM. Butler would probably bring a greater return, but it would signify a rebuilding process that Chicago may not be ready for. If they’re both back next season, Johnson suggests drafting a shooting guard, possibly Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, and moving Butler to small forward.
- New Pacers coach Nate McMillan has to change his style to succeed in the modern NBA, former All-Star Gary Payton tells Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star. Payton, who played for McMillan in Seattle, says the coach will need to drop his disciplinarian image. “[McMillan] can’t be that militant coach,” Payton said. “You see what happened with George Karl up in Sacramento. When you’ve got players and it happens like that, you’re going to be the odd man out. I don’t think ownership these days are taking the side of a coach unless you’re a [Gregg] Popovich or something like that, over these $15MM-$20MM players.”
- The Bucks are weighing their options with the 36th and 38th picks in next month’s draft, writes Charles F. Gardner of The Journal-Sentinel. Milwaukee concentrated on forwards on its first workout this week, which included Weber State’s Joel Bolomboy and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Shawn Long. Trading the picks to move into the first round is also an option. “Could we ever bundle those picks and move up?” said GM John Hammond. “Once again, not easy to do. Do we stay with both picks? Do we look at making one of those picks for a current roster spot and maybe another one with potentially an international player that could stay and continue to develop? We’ll see as it moves forward.”
Carmelo Anthony had no role in the decision to hire Jeff Hornacek, but he likes the choice, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Hornacek was a surprise name added to the Knicks’ coaching search when news of his imminent hiring leaked Wednesday. Contract details are still being finalized, but Berman hears a formal announcement could come Monday. Anthony commented publicly on the situation for the first time Saturday in an interview with WNBC, saying he welcomes the changes that Hornacek’s faster-paced offense will bring. “I played against him a couple of times when he was the head coach out there in Phoenix,” Anthony said. “Everybody knows he likes to play an up-tempo pace of game, likes to get out in transition, likes to speed the game up a lot. So from that standpoint, I’ll definitely be looking forward to that.” Anthony has said he wants to see how the Knicks’ offseason plays out before deciding to whether to waive his no-trade clause, so his approval of Hornacek may be a big step toward keeping him in New York.
There’s more Knicks news this morning:
- Steve Kerr, who turned down the Knicks job two years ago to become coach of the Warriors, thinks Jackson made a good decision with Hornacek, Berman writes in a separate piece. “I thought he did a phenomenal job in Phoenix,” Kerr said. “That first year he got them to within a game of the playoffs in a loaded conference in a year when they were supposed to be a high lottery team. This guy has a great knowledge of the game, great feel and he’s a really top-notch human being.”
- Anthony is hoping for a 20-year NBA career, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. The 31-year-old will have to play seven more seasons to reach that goal. “I think I’m in the prime of my career right now,” Anthony said in an interview with CNBC. “I have years to go in this league. I see guys playing 20 years. That’s a goal of mine — to play 20 NBA seasons.” Anthony has two years left on his current contract, plus an early termination option for 2018/19.
- The Knick who may benefit most from the Hornacek hiring is point guard Jerian Grant, Begley writes in a separate ESPN Now post. Hornacek is expected to bring more pick-and-roll plays to New York, which is something Grant excelled at during his time at Notre Dame. Begley cites Synergy Sports stats that show Grant was in the 72nd percentile in the nation on the pick and roll during his senior season, and the Irish averaged 1.1 points on those plays, which was in the 90th percentile.
- Hornacek’s interview with Knicks president Phil Jackson lasted about 5 1/2 hours, Hornacek’s father tells Kevin Armstrong of The New York Daily News. “Jeff must have said something right,” John Hornacek said.
- The Knicks reported hiring of Jeff Hornacek as head coach raises more questions than it answers, Ian Begley of ESPN.com writes. The addition of Hornacek calls into question how much influence team president Phil Jackson has left with owner James Dolan, the future of Kurt Rambis with the team and what offense New York will run, given that Hornacek has no experience with the triangle, Begley notes.