Nine losses in 10 games were enough to cost Knicks head coach Derek Fisher his job this morning. Kurt Rambis was named to the position on an interim basis and is expected to remain there for the rest of the season. What happens beyond that is anyone’s guess.
Team president Phil Jackson told reporters that Rambis will get a “real shot” to prove himself worthy as staying on as coach, but other potential candidates have been emerging all day. One is Warriors assistant Luke Walton, who guided Golden State to the league’s best record while head coach Steve Kerr was on medical leave. Walton signed today with the Wasserman Media group to be his representative in upcoming negotiations, as several teams are expected to have interest in him.
Former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, who has connections with Jackson from their days with the Lakers, is another candidate, along with Jeff Hornacek, who was fired by the Suns last week. Ex-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, always a hot candidate among free agent coaches, reportedly wants his next job to be in New York. Other names to watch out for, according to Bernie Augustine of The New York Daily News, include former Knicks star center Patrick Ewing, ex-Cavaliers coach David Blatt, former Clippers mentor Vinny Del Negro and possibly even one-time Knicks coach and executive Isiah Thomas, a favorite of owner James Dolan.
Fisher reportedly didn’t adhere strongly enough to the triangle offense and didn’t clearly spell out to players what their roles were. There was also talk of a split on the coaching staff with veterans Rambis and Jim Cleamons on one side with Brian Keefe and Joshua Longstaff on the other.
Jackson didn’t offer many clues as to what he’s looking for in his next coach, but it clearly has to be someone who can develop rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis while producing a contender that is still built around 13-year veteran Carmelo Anthony. Those two will be building blocks for whomever takes over the Knicks, but Jackson admitted that the rest of the roster still needs work, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. “Do we sit in a really favorable spot? Probably not,” Jackson said today. “We don’t have a tremendous amount of favorable items that are on our roster.”
That brings me to today’s shootaround topic: Who should be the head coach of the Knicks next season? Do you expect Rambis to prove himself over the next two months or will the franchise go in a different direction? Would a defensive-minded coach like Thibodeau be the best answer or maybe Walton, who has shown he can win with a modern-day offense? Should they go after a coach with experience or take a chance on a popular former player like Ewing?
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