David Blatt is a long shot for the Knicks head coaching job unless team president Phil Jackson defers to GM Steve Mills, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reported Monday that the Knicks are considering the former Cavaliers coach and that Jackson views him favorably. Kurt Rambis, the interim head coach, remains a strong candidate to secure the job on a long-term basis, Begley wrote, but even if he doesn’t, he’ll remain with the Knicks as either the top offensive assistant or assistant GM, sources tell Berman.
That’s despite the general feeling in the locker room that Rambis talks down to the players, as one Knicks player told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. Sources previously indicated to Berman that Rambis doesn’t have the same level of respect from the players that former coach Derek Fisher did. Carmelo Anthony has said he’d like for the Knicks to at least listen to candidates aside from Rambis, though Anthony delivered praise for the interim boss Sunday, as Begley chronicles (ESPN Now link).
“He was kind of a big-time influence in what we had going on early in the season and even last year, being the associate head coach,” Anthony said. “But just the way that he was able to jump right in there [after taking over], get guys’ attention and get guys to play — usually in that situation it takes time. Most people put in a new system, a new offense, a new defensive scheme. He jumped right in there because it was the same system.”
Rambis has close ties to Jackson, sharing the same agents, as Berman points out, but renewed speculation emerged Sunday that Jackson, who can opt out after next season, will remain team president for no more than another year, Isola relays. Berman suggests that hiring Blatt would represent a transition of sorts to Mills, who played college ball with Blatt at Princeton. Blatt was an usher at Mills’ wedding, according to Berman. Isola advocates for the Knicks to hire Tom Thibodeau, but Jackson, who remains in contact with Bulls executive John Paxson, isn’t impressed with the ex-Bulls coach, as Berman pointed out recently.