David Blatt was never a serious candidate to become the next coach of the Knicks, tweets veteran NBA reporter Peter Vecsey. Blatt’s name was floated as a smokescreen, Vecsey reports, and interim coach Kurt Rambis remains the only candidate for the position. According to Vecsey, the agent for new Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau contacted the Knicks to express his client’s interest, but team president Phil Jackson had no desire to talk to Thibodeau.
Blatt was reported as a candidate earlier this month, and Jackson was believed to have a positive image of the former Cavaliers coach who was a teammate of Knicks GM Steve Mills at Princeton. Blatt, who guided Cleveland to the NBA finals last season, has been mentioned for several open coaching jobs since he was fired in January.
There’s more this morning out of New York:
- Hiring the right coach is Jackson’s most important job this offseason, and he should consider someone other than the expected candidates, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical. He lists Jim Cleamons, Bill Cartwright, Brian Shaw, Frank Hamblen, Derek Fisher and Rambis as failed coaches with a past connection to Jackson. Marks also writes that the Knicks need to fix their thin bench, and notes that more cap space will be available for that task if Arron Afflalo and Derrick Williams opt out. But he adds that the coaching job must be filled first, and that will determine the type of players the Knicks should pursue.
- Jackson is blaming former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy for the negative publicity surrounding the Knicks and his performance as president, according to Bob Raissman of The New York Daily News. Longtime Jackson friend Charley Rosen wrote recently that Jackson has been “unfairly denigrated as being misguided and incompetent” by the media and he believes “power-playing” Van Gundy is behind the effort. Van Gundy coached the Knicks from 1995 to 2002, compiling a 248-172 record. He is rumored to be the favorite to become the next coach of the Rockets.