Jeff Van Gundy

Knicks Rumors: Mills, Perry, Olshey, Coaches

Several members of the Knicks organization said this week that they expect president Steve Mills to be replaced at season’s end, or even earlier, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

The report is similar to one issued by Frank Isola of The Athletic last week. Isola suggested that Mills will be reassigned within the organization or let go altogether, but Begley hears from sources that the situation remains fluid. If the Knicks can turn things around this season, it may improve the odds that Mills sticks around, particularly since he still has years left on his contract beyond 2019/20, Begley writes.

The future of general manager Scott Perry is thought to be tied to Mills’ future to some degree, but not entirely. If Mills is dismissed during the season, the belief is that Perry would take over as the head of basketball operations on an interim basis, per Begley.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks’ vision for their next head coach is someone who has the “stature and ability” to have success in the New York market, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Team officials want someone who can lean on prior success and experience, which explains why high-profile executives like Masai Ujiri and Sam Presti have been cited as potential targets.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post examines whether Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey might be another target for the Knicks, noting that the Blazers’ exec has strong New York roots. Olshey is happy in Portland, but a person close to him tells Berman that it may not be his last stop. “He’s got full autonomy here to run things as he sees fit and he’s pretty happy with his salary, I think,” that NBA official said. “He’s never going to be a huge fan of retiring in Portland as a city, so maybe this isn’t his final destination. But he’s not a big media guy even if he’s a big-city guy in some ways.”
  • According to Shams Charania, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, and Tom Thibodeau are among the names on the Knicks’ current head coaching wish list. Ian Begley agrees that Jackson has support within the franchise, adding that Jason Kidd is someone else who has organizational support.
  • Carmelo Anthony, who spent seven-and-a-half seasons with the Knicks, is holding out hope that the team will retire his number, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “I think anybody would want that, if you have the opportunity to get that,” Anthony said. “We’ll see what happens when that time comes. Hopefully, they hang No. 7 up there somewhere. We’ll see what happens.”

Knicks Reportedly “Obsessed” With Masai Ujiri

The Knicks are “obsessed” and “enamored” with Raptors executive Masai Ujiri as the next man to run the franchise, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. A front office shakeup is expected in the wake of yesterday’s firing of head coach David Fizdale, especially considering the poor track record of team president Steve Mills.

Begley speculates it would take “significant money and full autonomy” to land Ujiri, who is already in a comfortable spot after building a championship team. Even if the Knicks are willing to grant that, Ujiri may not want to work for a controversial figure like James Dolan, and he is signed with Toronto until 2021, a contract he said in October that he plans to honor.

Echoing a report we shared last week, Begley states that the Knicks believe Ujiri could be drawn to New York City to provide a larger platform for his charitable work with the Giants of Africa Foundation. However, there was similar speculation about Washington, D.C., a few months ago when the Wizards were restructuring their front office, and Ujiri opted to stay in Toronto.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • Despite a 4-18 start and six straight losing seasons, the Knicks’ front office job is still viewed as appealing around the league, Begley adds in the same story. The team has drafted well under general manager Scott Perry and has held on to its first-round picks. The Knicks also retained cap flexibility by signing seven players to short-term contracts this summer after failing to land their top targets in free agency.
  • A few players got to say goodbye to Fizdale before he left the team, Taj Gibson tells Begley (Twitter link). Gibson said Fizdale was emotional during the departure, adding, “Guys loved him.”
  • Mark Jackson, a former Knicks guard and ex-head coach of the Warriors, is a 5-1 favorite to be the next head coach, relays Adam Zagoria for Forbes. The oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag have Kenny Smith second at 6-1 and Italian coach Ettore Messina at 7-1. Next in line are three college coaches, Michigan’s Juwan Howard, Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse and Villanova’s Jay Wright.
  • Interim coach Mike Miller thanked Fizdale and the Knicks organization during today’s pre-game press conference (video link from Vorkunov). Neither Mills nor Perry has addressed the media since the firing became official, and nobody from management has commented apart from an unattributed statement that was released Friday.
  • Former NBA player Keith Bogans has been named to Miller’s staff, the Knicks announced on Twitter.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale Fallout, Potential Long-Term Replacements

The Knicks fired David Fizdale earlier today while also relieving Keith Smart of his duties as assistant coach. The move comes after a 4-18 start, which ties a record for worst in franchise history.

While Fizdale repeatedly told reporters that he had owner James Dolan’s backing, Jabari Young of CNBC.com hears from an agent who represents coaches around the league that the firing was “inevitable.” Assistant coach Mike Miller will now take over as the interim head coach with 60 games to go in the season.

Former Warriors coach and Knicks guard Mark Jackson has been linked to the team as a long-term candidate for the role (any major hire is likely to come in the offseason) and Young reports that Spurs assistant Becky Hammon would be interested in the job should the team be willing to offer her a long-term deal. Young mentions four or five years as the necessary length of the contract.

Young also mentions former Coach of the Year (2007) Sam Mitchell as a good candidate for the short-term, as Mitchell has a reputation for getting top effort out of players.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jeff Van Gundy, Jason Kidd, and Tyronn Lue are among the former NBA coaches that Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic names as options for the Knicks. Vorkunov also lists several potential candidates without former head coaching experience, such as Jarron Collins, Stephen Silas, and Ettore Messina.
  • The firing of Fizdale won’t clean up the Knicks’ issues, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today explains. Zillgitt believes that the front office should shoulder the blame for putting together this roster and simply expecting Fizdale to produce results with it.
  • Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post argues that the Knicks should fire team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry. The regime put together a plan of signing big-name free agents and failed to deliver.

Rockets Notes: Capela, Conditioning, Harden, Gordon, McLemore

Rockets center Clint Capela is off to a slow start compared to last season and a sore right shoulder is partially to blame, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweets. Capela injured the shoulder playing for the Swiss national team this summer and has been working to strengthen it. It has especially affected him when trying to dunk with one hand and reaching for rebounds, MacMahon adds. Capela is averaging 13.5 PPG and 7.1 RPG through the first eight games after averaging 16.6 PPG and 12.7 RPG last season.

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Coach Mike D’Antoni is second-guessing himself for taking it too easy on his players during camp, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Houston split its first six games before winning its last two outings. “I’m also kind of responsible. I was saving their legs in the preseason so that near the end of the year we’ll be fresher,” D’Antoni said. “I can’t also be crazy because they’re not quite in shape. We’re working on it.”
  • TV analyst and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy believes James Harden should get more credit for resisting the load management strategy that many other teams are using for their stars, Feigen writes. “Everybody is so hypercritical of everything Harden does. He should be absolutely lauded [for wanting to play 82 games],” Van Gundy said. ” It’s like the Rolling Stones came through here and don’t bring Mick (Jagger.) It would be the same thing if Harden doesn’t show up.”
  • The team should be much more worried about Eric Gordon’s shooting woes rather than Harden’s early slump, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines. Gordon is having a harder time getting to and finishing at the rim and that raises concerns, However, the team’s biggest long-term issues are their lack of overall interior size on defense and the fact that Russell Westbrook is a downgrade from Chris Paul at that end, Hollinger adds.
  • Ben McLemore, who has taken all but three of his 38 shots this season from beyond the arc, has solidified his rotation spot, Feigen writes a separate story.

And-Ones: Extension Deadlines, Team USA Scrimmages, James

The deadline for players to sign rookie extensions prior to opening night this upcoming season is Monday, October 21 at 6 p.m. ET, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN. That group of 18 eligible players includes Pascal Siakam, Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown.

The extension deadline is the same for a veteran with multiple years remaining on his contract who has met certain criteria, including All-Star guard Bradley Beal. Players with one year left (including a player option) have until June 30, 2020 to sign an extension.

Regular season rosters will also be set on October 21, while Saturday, October 19 will be the last day a team can waive a player with a non-guaranteed contract and not incur a cap hit, Marks adds (Twitter links here).

We have more from the basketball world:

  • The USA Basketball World Cup team will scrimmage against a collection of G League and fringe NBA players over the next three days, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. There are 15 players remaining on the USA roster with Monday’s withdrawal by Kyle Lowry and 12 will make the final roster that will compete in the FIBA tournament in China. The group they’ll scrimmage will be called the L.A. Select Team and be coached by Jeff Van Gundy. That team will include players who participated in FIBA qualifiers, including Scotty Hopson, Chasson Randle and Ben Moore, Givony adds in another tweet.
  • Former Suns and Pelicans guard Mike James has signed with CSKA Moscow, according to a tweet from the team. James played a total of 36 NBA games in 2017/18, averaging 9.3 PPG and 3.5 APG in 19.1 MPG. James appeared in 30 Euro League games with Olimpia Milano last season, averaging a league-high 19.8 PPG and 6.8 APG. James and the Italian team mutually parted ways late last month.
  • The NBA released 2019/20 season schedules for every team on Monday. You can find them here.

And-Ones: Van Gundy, G League, Cole

Former Knicks coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy discussed a variety of subjects with Justin Terranova of The New York Post, including his opinions on David Fizdale, his brother Stan, and whether he’d ever want to coach in the NBA again.

Van Gundy, who last coached in the NBA with the Rockets in 2007, didn’t rule out a possible return to the sidelines in the future. He currently coaches the USA Basketball men’s national team, a roster comprised of mostly G League and former NBA players, doing his best to stay active outside of his job at ESPN.

“It’s been about the same. I always missed it,” Van Gundy said when asked about NBA coaching. “With any job you take the good with the bad and it’s hard to find the right fit. I am really fortunate to have a really good job that I enjoy. So, there’s no angst about coaching. If it happens, great. That’s why I like the Team USA and I’ve really enjoyed it. … I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what’s next.”

Jeff’s brother, Stan Van Gundy, also joined ESPN this past summer to become an analyst. Stan was head coach and president of the Pistons last season, with both brothers working several different jobs with NBA teams across their respective careers. When asked about the possibility of the brothers calling an NBA game together for ESPN, Jeff gave an honest response.

“If we did, that’d be great. If we didn’t, that’d be fine, too,” Jeff said, according to Terranova. “I talk to [Stan] enough on the phone. It’s not like the only form of communication is if we do a game together. He’s doing his thing, and he’s doing really well. If we do a game it’d be a lot of fun.”

Here are a few other basketball odds and ends:

  • New G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim hopes that every NBA team will have a G League affiliate by 2022, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated. Abdur-Rahim is set to officially take over as G League president on Jan. 11, replacing Malcolm Turner. “I’ve seen the evolution of the league and the great work that Malcolm and has group has done,” Abdur-Rahim said. “To see where we are sitting now. … Going towards 30 teams, the professional path, the rebranding, it’s such a great situation with so many opportunities. You’re positioned really with a great team around it. There is so much opportunity to help craft with folks, craft a vision, craft ideas, move forward.”
  • Despite Abdur-Rahim’s goal, NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes the league can have 30 affiliates within “the next two years or so,” as we detailed in a recent story. Currently, 27 NBA franchises have a G League team.
  • Former NBA guard Norris Cole is leaving Sidigas Avellino in Italy, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Cole will join Buducnost Voli as a free agent, a team located in Montenegro, Carchia reports. He last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season.

James Dolan Won’t Rule Out Possibility Of Selling Knicks

While there are no indications that Knicks owner James Dolan plans to sell the franchise anytime soon, he didn’t entirely rule out the possibility during a recent discussion with Ian O’Connor of ESPN.com. Noting that his family has no interest in selling the Knicks, Dolan told O’Connor that he has a responsibility to his shareholders to keep that option open in case the right offer comes along.

“You have a responsibility as the guy who runs the place to deliver on that for them, that’s being open and transparent. And so in that position, I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks,” Dolan said. “Now, my family is not in that position, and they are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote.

“As a majority owner, I don’t want to sell, either,” Dolan continued. “As the head of the public company, you can’t say you can’t sell, because then you’re telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money. And they won’t invest with you if you do that.”

When Forbes released its NBA franchise valuations early in 2018, the Knicks were once again viewed as the league’s most valuable team, with an estimated value of $3.6 billion. In his discussion with O’Connor, Dolan acknowledged that there have been some “feelers” of offers that would far exceed that number. However, those feelers never led to any concrete offers for the franchise.

“You hear numbers all the time,” Dolan told O’Connor. “… I think people have sent feelers out, but never any that were pursued. Yeah, [the feelers are] around that number [$5 billion], but those things, it’s like a stock price. It’s only important if you’re going to buy or sell.”

Dolan also addressed a handful of other topics during his wide-ranging conversation with O’Connor, so the piece is worth checking out in full for Knicks fans.

Here are some of the other notable comments from the Knicks’ owner:

On Phil Jackson’s unsuccessful stint as the Knicks’ president of basketball operations:

“I think it was much more about this triangle thing. It was much more about his philosophy, that he couldn’t get the group to buy into it. And I think he got ‘yessed’ a lot. I think they’d be underneath their breath going, ‘This is not a great idea,’ and he got into conflict with some players over it. But I think he tried hard to get his system in. I just don’t think he ever got it in.”

On Jeff Van Gundy telling ESPN that he had interest in the Knicks’ head coaching job this past spring:

“I never heard that. He wanted the job? Look, I’ll do whatever’s necessary to help the team. If [GM] Scott [Perry] and [president of basketball operations] Steve [Mills] said Jeff’s the right guy, fine, but it was really their call. I didn’t meet anybody else other than [David Fizdale]. They said, ‘Look, he’s our pick, I want you to meet him.’ So I did. I wasn’t involved in the selection process at all.”

On whether he has any regrets about having Charles Oakley ejected from Madison Square Garden during a 2017 game:

“He was out of control. Anybody else who went even half the way that he went would have been ejected from the venue. It just got too bad. He had to be taken out.”

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Embiid, Sixers, Celtics

Despite a weekend report that the Knicks had reached out to Jeff Van Gundy‘s representatives, the latest word on Monday suggested that the former Knicks head coach isn’t a candidate for the club’s current opening on the bench. As Marc Berman of The New York Post explains, the contact between the two sides was “more along the lines” of Van Gundy’s side inquiring about the position.

As for the Knicks, they had internal discussions about the possibility of bringing back the current ESPN/ABC analyst, but Berman suggests that Van Gundy’s “old-school” approach and his time away from coaching – among other factors – may have worked against him.

While Van Gundy seemingly won’t get an interview for the Knicks’ coaching job, the team is meeting with one of its former coaches in Mike Woodson. According to Berman, that interview will take place on Wednesday, the same day that Mark Jackson‘s meeting with the club will reportedly happen.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • In the wake of the Sixers‘ Game 2 loss to Miami on Monday, Joel Embiid wrote in an Instagram story that he’s “sick and tired of being babied.” As he explained to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Embiid is simply frustrated that health concerns have prevented him from being out there with his teammates so far in the postseason. “I wish more than anything that I was out there. I just want the green light to play,” Embiid said. According to Ian Begley in the same ESPN.com story, there’s internal optimism that Embiid will return during the first round, but it’s unclear if he’ll be ready for Game 3.
  • As the Sixers battle Miami in the first round of the postseason, rumors about Philadelphia’s top offseason target continue to swirl. Ken Berger of Bleacher Report recently spoke to several executives around the league who acknowledged they don’t know what LeBron James will do this summer, but believe he could give the 76ers a real look. Asked last week by ESPN’s Chris Haynes about the possibility of recruiting James, Ben Simmons admitted that “we wouldn’t mind having LeBron our team,” but said he hasn’t spoken to the four-time MVP about the possibility.
  • Al Horford and Terry Rozier were among the key contributors in the Celtics‘ Game 1 win over Milwaukee on Sunday. In separate pieces for NBC Sports Boston, A. Sherrod Blakely explores how the franchise is getting its money’s worth out of its investment in Horford, and examines how Rozier has become an integral part of the Celtics’ roster. Rozier will be extension-eligible for the first time this offseason.

Knicks Not Showing Interest In Jeff Van Gundy

Despite contact between the Knicks and Jeff Van Gundy‘s representatives, the franchise hasn’t shown any real interest in bringing back its former head coach, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.com.

According to Begley, Van Gundy would be open to discussing the Knicks’ head coaching vacancy if the team expresses interest in him as a candidate. However, league sources indicate to Begley that any conversations between the Knicks and Van Gundy’s reps didn’t result in the club expressing that interest or looking to line up an interview.

Van Gundy, who is currently employed as an NBA analyst for ESPN and ABC, coached the Knicks for several years in the late-1990s and early-2000s, leading the team to a 248-172 record (.590) over five full seasons and two more partial seasons. The club went 37-32 in the postseason during that stretch, reaching the NBA Finals in 1999.

While Van Gundy doesn’t appear to be at or near the top of the Knicks’ wish list, the team is considering another one of its former head coaches, having reportedly set up a meeting with Mike Woodson. However, Begley suggests that Woodson isn’t considered to be in the “top tier” of Knicks candidates — for now, that top tier includes David Fizdale, Mark Jackson, Jerry Stackhouse, and David Blatt, per ESPN.

Knicks Notes: Van Gundy, Fizdale, Woodson, World Peace

The Knicks contacted representatives for Jeff Van Gundy about their coaching vacancy on Saturday, but he is considered a long shot to land the job, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Van Gundy, who coached the team for more than five seasons before resigning in 2001, had a strained relationship with the organization for many years that now seems to have thawed.

“I always keep changing my answer to the same question,” he said this week in an interview with New York-based broadcaster Michael Kay. “Now that the job is available, I can say I just don’t talk about coaching searches. I don’t think it does anybody any good. It doesn’t do me any good, the teams any good. I want what’s best for them. Whatever they decide, I hope it works for them.”

Van Gundy is now a broadcaster for ABC/ESPN, along with fellow Knicks coaching candidate Mark Jackson. Berman states that the Knicks seem to prefer Jackson to Van Gundy, and JVG endorsed his broadcast partner for the job on Friday.

There’s more news on the Knicks’ coaching front:

  • Former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale could become the top candidate once he interviews with the Knicks this week, Berman adds in the same story. Fizdale, who coached Memphis to a playoff berth last season, told reporters Friday that he has interviews for the openings in New York and Phoenix. The Knicks like Fizdale’s ability to connect with younger players, Berman notes.
  • Mike Woodson hasn’t been mentioned among the Knicks’ coaching candidates, but he would like to be considered, Berman relays in a separate piece. Woodson has spent the past four years as an assistant with the Clippers, but was the head coach in New York for two and a half years prior to taking that job. “I don’t want to hide the fact I’d love to be back,” Woodson said. “I’d like to finish what I started. At the end of the day, you want to come to New York, based on my body of work there. I want it to be mutual. I want them to want me. I hope they call me.”
  • If you’re looking for a long-shot candidate to be the Knicks’ next coach, Metta World Peace threw his hat into the ring Saturday, tweeting, “I would love to be head coach for the @nyknicks.” World Peace played for New York during the 2013/14 season and served as a player development coach for the G League’s South Bay Lakers this year.