Although Tom Thibodeau is widely viewed as the favorite to become the Knicks‘ next head coach, there’s “legitimate internal support” within the organization for former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv.
Thibodeau and Atkinson are among the candidates expected to interview for New York’s head coaching vacancy. Current interim coach Mike Miller and former Knicks coach Mike Woodson will also reportedly interview. It’s not clear yet whether the club will meet with additional candidates beyond those four, though Begley notes that Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd also have fans within the organization.
Atkinson was dismissed from his position with the Nets in March amidst rumors that the team was seeking a head coach more suited for a veteran contender, following Atkinson’s solid work during Brooklyn’s rebuild. His performance with the Nets could make him a good fit a rebuilding Knicks team, and the Long Island native has a history with the club, having been a Knicks assistant from 2008-12.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer, who worked with Atkinson in Atlanta from 2013-16, endorsed his former assistant for the Knicks’ job, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details.
“I’d love to see him be coach of the Knicks,” Budenholzer told Berman. “It’s a great opportunity. He understands he’ll have a bunch of opportunities and situations. He’s had an amazing life with a great family. It would be a home run for him. There’s nothing like coaching the team you grew up with, he worked with. And with what they’re trying to do and where they are.
“… He’s just interesting because he’s so unique in that he is so true to player development and can really help players improve,” Budenholzer added. “The league has gotten a lot better with (development), but he’s one of the first — his ability doing it at a super-high level.”
Although the Knicks have reportedly begun their head coaching search, we haven’t gotten many updates on the process as of late and it’s not clear whether the team has set a timeline to make a hire.