Jay Wright

Knicks Notes: Roster Composition, Porzingis, Riley

Recently appointed head coach David Fizdale plans to make the most of what could otherwise be considered a logjam of guards on the Knicks’ roster, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes.

Roll them out there. Put them out there together,” Fizdale said. “It’s about speed, skill, aggressiveness, attack, playmaking. All of these guards have that ability. So I see a lot of versatility in there. I see a lot of combinations with them on the floor [for the Knicks] together.”

Given that there’s no shortage of ball carriers on the roster, Knicks president Steve Mills says that the club will ideally target a wing player in the upcoming June draft.

There’s more out of New York this evening:

  • The Knicks reached out to Heat president Pat Riley prior to hiring David Fizdale, Marc Berman of The New York Post. Riley, a former Knicks coach himself, has a polarizing history with the franchise, but was a strong reference for Fizdale, a former Heat assistant.
  • Prior to hiring Fizdale, the Knicks also reached out to Villanova head coach Jay Wright regarding the vacancy. Zach Braziller of The New York Post has the details on why the reigning national champion had no desire to leave his current situation.
  • Analyst Walt Frazier doesn’t foresee Kristaps Porzingis returning to the lineup for the Knicks this year, Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. The former franchise great, who currently works for MSG Network, explains that Porzingis’ recovery time has him set to return in January or February, at which point the team will likely be out of the playoff picture.

Jay Wright Won’t Meet With NBA Teams

NBA teams with head coaching openings and aspirations of luring Jay Wright away from Villanova this offseason can probably give up that dream, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, Wright’s longtime agent Carl Hirsch has confirmed that the Wildcats coach won’t speak to NBA teams at this time, and will return to Villanova to defend the team’s championship.

“He’s under contract with Villanova and he’s very, very happy there,” Hirsch told Berman. “There’s no plans to leave.”

The stance doesn’t come as a surprise, since Wright made similar comments about a week after Villanova won this year’s championship game. Speaking to Dana O’Neil of The Athletic at the time, the veteran head coach admitted that he was “intrigued” by the NBA, but said he couldn’t see himself leaving his current position. While Wright’s comments left the door to the NBA slightly ajar, Hirsch essentially closed that door for now, per Berman.

[RELATED: 2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker]

A source tells Berman that at least two teams reached out to Wright’s representatives this month. One of those teams is believed to be the Knicks, whose desire to inquire on Wright was reported earlier in April. The identity of the second club isn’t known, but the Suns were believed to have Wright on their radar too. Neither team will get a chance to interview him.

With Wright set to return to Villanova, he’ll have a challenge ahead of him as he looks to lead the Wildcats to their third title in four years. Standout contributors Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson are going pro, and Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman – who have each entered the draft without hiring an agent – may join them.

Knicks Reach Out To Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson

The Knicks have contacted the agents for Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson in their search for a head coach to replace Jeff Hornacek, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News.

The partners on ABC/ESPN broadcasts are part of a growing list of candidates that includes David Fizdale, who confirmed that he will interview with the team next week, and Jerry Stackhouse, who could have an interview date in place by Monday. Isola couldn’t confirm whether the Knicks have spoken to Villanova coach Jay Wright, who was in Italy today for an audience with the Pope.

The Knicks contacted Fizdale more than two weeks ago, Isola adds, and some league officials consider him the early favorite to land the job. He led the Grizzlies to the playoffs last season before being fired after 19 games this year in the wake of frequent clashes with Marc Gasol.

Van Gundy is the only one of the current candidates who has a coaching history in New York. He guided the Knicks for five full seasons and parts of two others, including a trip to the 1999 NBA Finals. He hasn’t coached at the NBA level for more than a decade after being fired by the Rockets in 2007, but has worked with USA Basketball and won a gold medal at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup.

Jackson is also popular in New York, where he played for seven seasons. He coached the Warriors to back-to-back playoff appearances before being let go in 2014. Knicks president Steve Mills recently talked to Warriors GM Bob Myers about coaching attributes, Isola adds, and Jackson’s name probably came up.

Knicks Plan To Reach Out To Jay Wright

As part of their search for a new head coach, the Knicks intend to reach out to Villanova’s Jay Wright, a source close to the team tell Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. According to that source, members of the Knicks’ management group view Wright as an ideal candidate to lead the club’s rebuild. However, it will be difficult to pry him away from a great situation in Villanova, where he has won two national championships in the last three years.

“He told me years ago that he wanted to make Villanova into the Duke of the Northeast,” a person close to Wright told Isola. “It would take a lot for him to leave.”

Wright himself told Dana O’Neil of The Athletic just this week that he’s intrigued by the NBA, but can’t himself leaving Villanova, so any team interested in hiring him would likely need to make him its top target and blow him away with an offer.

Reports in the wake of Jeff Hornacek‘s dismissal late last night indicated that the Knicks also plan to contact Jerry Stackhouse, Mark Jackson, David Blatt, and David Fizdale about their newly-created job opening.

Here’s a little more on the Knicks’ coaching situation:

  • There’s no shortage of ideas from media members for the next Knicks head coach — Ian Begley of ESPN, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, Marc Berman of The New York Post, and Al Iannazzone of Newsday all share lists of potential targets for the club.
  • According to Begley (Twitter link), multiple current Knicks players would be in favor of the team hiring Jeff Van Gundy. Begley adds that one coach with ties to Van Gundy believes the ABC analyst would have interest in the job if approached by the team.
  • As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News details, Knicks forward Michael Beasley felt that constant speculation about Hornacek’s job security put the head coach in a bad spot. “You get into a position where you’€™re doing things not to mess up,” Beasley said. “You’€™re thinking not to mess up, but at the end of the day you’€™re still thinking messing up. It’€™s tough but he played the hand he was dealt.”

Coaching Rumors: Magic, Bucks, Suns, Knicks

When Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports polled executives around the NBA recently on rising head coach candidates, Raptors assistant Nick Nurse and Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse were among the top names on the list. According to Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times, both Nurse and Stackhouse will likely be among the the candidates the Magic consider if the club elects to replace Frank Vogel this offseason.

In addition to the fact that current Magic president Jeff Weltman was formerly the GM in Toronto, Stackhouse also has a connection to Orlando general manager John Hammond, who was the GM in Milwaukee when Stackhouse played for the Bucks. Woelfel adds that some NBA officials believe the Magic are “leaning toward” replacing Vogel with Stackhouse, though Orlando’s list of preferred targets figures to become clearer if and when the club formally moves on from its current head coach.

Here are a few more coaching notes and rumors from Woelfel:

  • Multiple sources tell Woelfel that Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer would have “more than a passing interest” in the Bucks‘ position if they move on from their current teams this offseason. Some NBA officials believe that Budenholzer wouldn’t want to be part of an “extensive” rebuild in Atlanta, according to Woelfel.
  • While the Suns are expected to conduct a wide-ranging head coaching search, multiple NBA executives and coaches think David Fizdale, Jason Kidd, and Villanova’s Jay Wright will receive strong consideration, says Woelfel.
  • Besides Wright, Virginia’s Tony Bennett is among the college coaches expected to draw NBA interest. “Everybody knows he’s an exceptional defensive coach, but he does some really nice things offensively, too. He can flat-out coach.” one longtime NBA executive told Woelfel. “I think almost every team that is in the market for a new coach will take long, hard looks at Wright and Bennett. They’re both great coaches and they’re both great guys.”
  • A league source expects Mark Jackson and David Blatt to be among the finalists for the Knicks‘ job if the team dismisses Jeff Hornacek, according to Woelfel.

And-Ones: Wright, 2K League, EuroCamp, Fines

After leading his Wildcats to their second NCAA title in the last three years, Villanova head coach Jay Wright figures to draw interest from NBA teams this spring. Three NBA clubs currently have interim head coaches in place and will be in the market for full-time solutions in the offseason, and a handful of other franchises could make changes on the sideline too.

Still, it may be difficult to pry Wright away from Villanova, as Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports writes. The school’s athletic director Mark Jackson acknowledged that NBA interest in Wright will be “inevitable,” but he has “no sense” that the head coach wants to go anywhere, he tells Eisenberg. Assistant coach Ashley Howard agrees with that sentiment.

“I think he loves it here at Villanova,” Howard said of Wright. “He’s shown that. He’s had opportunities to go in the past, and he’s shown that he’s committed to staying here at Villanova and continuing to make this program great.”

Wright is currently making $2.6MM per year, Eisenberg notes, but a raise figures to be on the way after the latest championship if he remains at Villanova. Since the Suns are one team that may have interest in hiring Wright, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 did some digging and was told that Wright is expected to have his salary increased to at least $4MM, making it harder for him to walk away from the Wildcats (Twitter link).

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The draft for the NBA’s new 2K eLeague took place this week, and the league is putting its weight behind the new esports venture — as Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes, Shaquille O’Neal will run the Kings‘ 2K squad (Kings Guard Gaming), while commissioner Adam Silver is looking to make his mark on North American esports, per Ohm Youngmisuk and Jacob Wolf at ESPN.com. We won’t be covering the league on a regular basis, but for more details on the NBA’s foray into professional gaming, check out Alex Kennedy’s FAQ at HoopsHype.
  • As Adidas withdraws its support from the annual EuroCamp for international prospects, the NBA is looking to salvage the event, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. The Eurocamp will take place from June 2-5 in Treviso, Italy and will be rebranded as the NBA Elite International Camp, according to Givony. In a separate story, Givony also takes a closer look at the new Next Generation program, an event organized by the NCAA, NBA, and USA Basketball for prospects during the Final Four.
  • Nets forward Quincy Acy and Pistons center Andre Drummond were fined $25K and $15K by the NBA earlier this week, according to the league. The two players engaged in a shoving match during Sunday’s game in Brooklyn, resulting in ejections for both.
  • Grand Rapids Drive center Landry Nnoko, who was in camp with the Pistons in the fall, was named the NBA G League’s Defensive Player of the Year for 2017/18. Peter J. Wallner of MLive.com has the details.

Stein’s Latest: Pistons, Knicks, Bucks, Magic, Suns

Earlier today, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Pistons have expressed interest in Chauncey Billups for a potential front office role, with an eye on possibly pairing him with Arn Tellem in their basketball operations department. The report quickly drew responses from multiple sides — Billups stated that he would “never push for a job with any NBA franchise that is not open,” while a Pistons ownership spokesman simply called the report “false.”

Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link) also hears from a source that there’s “nothing whatsoever” to the idea of a Billups/Tellem team-up in the Pistons’ front office, but Stein doubled down on the report in his latest newsletter for The New York Times, citing league sources who say that Detroit has “great interest” in hiring Billups. According to Stein, the Pistons believe they have a real shot to convince Billups to leave his TV job for an executive role.

Stein’s newsletter includes a few more tidbits on coaching and front office situations around the NBA. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • There’s a growing belief that Knicks GM Scott Perry will want to hire his own hand-picked head coach at season’s end, says Stein. According to Stein, if the club replaces Jeff Hornacek and makes a high-profile hire, Mark Jackson and David Blatt would be among the candidates to watch.
  • With a move to a new arena around the corner, the Bucks may want to make a big splash with their next head coaching hire. League sources tell Stein that Jeff Van Gundy and Kevin McHale are among the names on the Bucks’ list of potential candidates, while Monty Williams and David Fizdale have also been mentioned. Rick Pitino could even get an “exploratory look,” says Stein.
  • There’s a “widely held assumption” in coaching circles that the Magic will replace Frank Vogel, according to Stein, who identifies Nick Nurse, Rex Kalamian, and Jerry Stackhouse as possible targets for Orlando. All three of those coaches are in the Raptors organization, which is where Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman previously worked.
  • While Jay Triano will receive an interview as part of the Suns‘ head coaching search, Stein is hearing buzz that Triano is more likely to be asked to stay on as an assistant. Phoenix wants to explore the college ranks, and Villanova’s Jay Wright is one name that figures to come up during that search, per Stein.

Coaching Shakeup May Be On The Way

Coming off a rare season in which no coaches were fired, the NBA may be preparing for a shakeup that will affect a third of the league, writes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News.

Isola suggests as many as 10 teams could be looking at coaching changes at the end of the season, if not sooner. The actual number will depend on how things play out, but several more names may join David Fizdale of Memphis and Earl Watson of Phoenix as coaching casualties for 2017/18.

Both Los Angeles teams could be open to changes, with the Lakers far out of the playoff race at 16-29. The front office was slow to defend Luke Walton after recent derogatory comments by LaVar Ball, and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently suggested that hiring former Fizdale, a former assistant with the Heat, would give the organization a better shot at LeBron James. However, Walton still has an important ally in majority owner Jeanie Buss.

Across town, Doc Rivers is doing a remarkable job with a depleted roster, but he may not remain with the Clippers if they decide to rebuild by following through with rumored trades involving DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams. Rivers, who has one more year left on the extension he signed in 2014, was removed from his front office duties before the start of the season. Isola says Rivers may return to television if he leaves the Clippers, though he would become a candidate for possible openings in New York and Orlando.

There will be no shortage of prominent candidates if the Knicks decide to move on from Jeff Hornacek. Isola identifies ABC/ESPN analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy as potential replacements, along with former Pelicans coach and Knicks player Monty Williams, reigning G League Coach of the Year Jerry Stackhouse and Villanova coach Jay Wright, although there is speculation that Wright would only leave the college ranks to take the Sixers’ job.

Pacific Rumors: CP3; Lakers, Kings Coaching Jobs

The Clippers suffered a devastating blow and the playoffs took another unexpected turn Monday when Chris Paul broke his right hand in Game 4 against the Trail Blazers, a Portland win that evened the first-round series. Paul is “most likely” out for the rest of the postseason, a source told ESPN’s J.A. Adande (ESPN Now link). A team source said much the same to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). It’s possible a better prognosis will emerge after further tests, and the team will know more today, Adande and Woike report, but the Clippers are in rough shape. Blake Griffin is just “50-50” for the next game because of a sore left quadriceps tendon, coach Doc Rivers said, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com (Twitter link). It all adds up to a potential boost for the Warriors, who’ve lost Stephen Curry for at least two weeks with a sprained knee and will play either the Clippers or the Blazers in the next round, provided they dispatch the Rockets.

See more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers have reached out to Jeff Van Gundy about their coaching vacancy and he has interest, a source close to Van Gundy told Sam Amick of USA Today.
  • College coaches Roy Williams, John Calipari, Jay Wright and Tom Izzo are among the candidates the Lakers will consider, sources told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. Former Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek is also expected to be among those the Lakers will look at, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst hears, as the website passes along in the same piece.
  • The Lakers felt they needed someone who’s on board with the modern NBA’s more perimeter-oriented style when they dismissed Byron Scott late Sunday, sources told Shelburne, and they would ideally like to hire a big-name coach on the upswing who has strong player development skills, a coaching source indicated to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
  • Vinny Del Negro‘s interview for the Kings head coaching job took place Monday, and Mike Woodson is expected to have his interview as soon as today, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. GM Vlade Divac has been in charge of the interviews and is expected to have the most influential say in the team’s eventual hiring, Wojnarowski adds.

Wizards Plan To Contact Scott Brooks, Thibodeau

MONDAY, 11:19am: Washington is the front-runner to land Brooks, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Stein suggests the Rockets are Brooks’ top alternative but are at a disadvantage because they’re in the playoffs and their focus is on that.

5:18pm: The Wizards have made Brooks their top priority, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical relays.

FRIDAY, 9:59am: The Wizards plan to meet with Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau as they conduct their coaching search, a source tells Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. John Wall has said in the past that he would want the team to hire Brooks if the coaching job were to come open as it did Thursday, Castillo also hears. The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski first identified Brooks as a strong candidate for the position in the wake of the news that the team was firing Randy Wittman, though reports conflicted on Thibodeau’s candidacy. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said that he’ll head up the search to replace Wittman, whom the Wizards formally dismissed earlier Thursday.

Brooks’ most obvious attractive quality is his relationship with Kevin Durant, the Washington, D.C. native whom the Wizards have long planned to pursue when he becomes a free agent in July. Durant made a point Thursday of praising the job Brooks did as his coach from 2008 to 2015, as The Oklahoman’s Erik Horne relays. Still, the prevailing sentiment is that Brooks alone wouldn’t be enough to woo Durant to his hometown team, Castillo writes. Brooks is also reportedly believed to be waiting to see if the Lakers job opens.

A Wizards player who spoke to Castillo expressed concerns about the heavy workload Thibodeau is known for demanding from his players, and the former Bulls coach figures to command a high salary. Strong indications exist that Thibodeau is seeking player personnel power, as Chris Mannix of The Vertical reported earlier this week, and that would be tough to come by in Washington, where Grunfeld is apparently staying in charge of the front office. Still, the Wizards are prioritizing defensive acumen and NBA head coaching experience as they sort through candidates, as both Castillo and J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic hear, and Thibodeau checks both boxes.

Thibodeau won Coach of the Year honors in 2011, a year after Brooks took home the same award. Grunfeld has a history with both Brooks and Thibodeau, who served as a Knicks assistant coach for three of the years that Grunfeld was in charge of New York’s basketball operations, Castillo notes. Grunfeld agreed to hire Thibodeau as an assistant for then-Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan in 2007, but Thibodeau backed out of the deal before signing a contract, as Castillo also points out. Grunfeld acquired Brooks as a player for the Knicks in 1996 and traded him away a year later, Castillo recalls.

The Wizards also want their next coach to command accountability, as Wittman irritated players with his selective accountability, according to Castillo, who also mentions Jeff Hornacek, Mike D’AntoniSam Cassell, Mark Jackson, Kevin McHale, Nate McMillan, and Jay Wright as potential candidates. The team is indeed interested in Hornacek and D’Antoni, as previous reports have indicated.

Which coach do you think is the right fit for the Wizards? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.