John Calipari

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Van Gundy, Miller, Woodson

Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy believes the organization is making the right choice in Tom Thibodeau, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Thibodeau, who is close to finalizing a five-year agreement with the team, was brought to New York as an assistant by Van Gundy in 1996.

“I’m extremely happy for Tom and equally happy for the Knicks as they hired an elite coach who will give everything he has to turn the Knicks around,” the ABC/ESPN broadcaster said.

New York began its search June 4 and talked to 11 candidates. However, many were considered to be courtesy interviews as Thibodeau was reportedly a strong favorite all along. Berman points out that five of the candidates — Ime Udoka, Wes Hardy, Chris Fleming, Pat Delaney and Jamahl Mosley — have no experience as NBA head coaches.

“Tom has always been their guy,” a source told Berman.

There’s more news on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks first offered the job to Thibodeau on Thursday morning, Berman tweets. He responded with a counter offer later in the day, but they didn’t make significant progress toward an agreement until Saturday.
  • Thibodeau should have plenty of time to prepare for a proposed group workout next month involving the eight teams not in Orlando, Berman writes in a separate story. Knicks president Leon Rose supports the idea of the gathering so the young roster can learn the new coach’s system, but isn’t in favor of scrimmages with other teams.
  • Interim coach Mike Miller and former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson both have “strong internal support” to be part of Thibodeau’s staff, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Among those conducting the interviews along with Rose were executive vice president and senior advisor William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, general manager Scott Perry, and vice president of basketball and strategic planning Brock Aller.
  • The Knicks’ new management team has long supported Thibodeau, and the only real alternative would have been John Calipari if he had been willing to leave Kentucky, a source tells Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Ed Pinckney, Andy Greer and Rick Brunson served as assistants to Thibodeau in both Chicago and Minnesota and should be considered candidates to join his staff in New York, notes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who also hears that Miller may be retained to provide some continuity. Vorkunov speculates that the hiring of Thibodeau means the Knicks aren’t interested in a long rebuilding process.

Knicks Notes: Offseason Activities, Calipari, More

As one of the eight teams not invited to Orlando to complete the 2019/20 season, the Knicks are anxious to have some form of offseason activities for their players this summer and/or fall, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

With the NBA prioritizing the restart of the season for now, the Knicks are waiting on the league to review a handful of the options on the table for its bottom eight teams. If the league moves forward with a specific plan, it will need to be approved by the NBPA.

According to Berman, the Knicks are hoping to at least get approval to hold a mandatory two-week camp between the October 15 draft and the proposed November 10 start of training camp. That would give the team a head-start on the 2020 preseason after seven-plus months of inaction.

As Berman details, the Knicks are also in favor of the proposed target date of December 1 for opening night of the 2020/21 campaign. There’s an expectation that the players’ union will want to push back that date a little, but New York and the other seven teams whose seasons are over will be eager to get next season started as soon as possible.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Within the New York Post article linked above, Berman suggests that John Calipari would challenge Tom Thibodeau‘s frontrunner status if he were to “throw his hat into the ring” for the Knicks’ head coaching job. However, Ian Begley of SNY.tv says interviews are expected to begin this week and notes that Calipari continues to reiterate he has no interest in leaving Kentucky. In other words, it seems pretty safe to cross Calipari off New York’s list of potential candidates.
  • The Knicks’ decision-makers were still finishing up their exit interviews with players as of Monday, a source tells Berman (Twitter link). Those conversations took place via video conference calls.
  • After some internal back-and-forth last week about the Knicks’ silence following the death of George Floyd, the team put out a statement today saying it stands with “all who act for a positive change.” Team owner James Dolan had initially told MSG employees in a pair of memos that he didn’t believe a public statement was necessary, even as the rest of the NBA’s teams issued statements of their own. ESPN’s Malika Andrews has more details.

Knicks’ Coaching Job Considered Thibodeau’s To Lose?

After a report last week suggested that Tom Thibodeau topped the Knicks‘ wish list in their head coaching search, multiple updates since then have reiterated that Thibodeau looks like the frontrunner for the job.

Sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that Thibodeau is the “heavy favorite” to become the Knicks’ next head coach. Bondy cautions that other candidates – including Mike Miller, Kenny Atkinson, and perhaps even John Calipari – are in play, but says there’s a belief that the position is Thibodeau’s to lose. A source tells The Daily News that Thibodeau is confident enough about his chances that he has already made calls about assembling a staff.

Citing Thibodeau’s longstanding relationship with new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose, Marc Berman of The New York Post also says there’s an “excellent chance” that the team will zero in on Thibodeau when its head coaching search officially gets underway.

Additionally, Berman hears from sources that members of Thibodeau’s past Bulls and Timberwolves staffs will likely be interested in joining him in New York if he’s hired by the Knicks. Berman specifically cites Andy Greer, Larry Greer, and Dice Yoshimoto as coaches Thibodeau might look to bring with him if given the opportunity.

The Knicks’ search hasn’t begun in earnest yet, but as Berman points out, there’s a good chance that the club won’t part of a resumed NBA season — reports last week indicated that the league favors a 20-team or 22-team restart. If the NBA officially moves forward with a plan that excludes the Knicks, there would be little reason for the franchise to delay its head coaching search until after the resumption of the season.

Knicks Notes: Perry, Rose, Smith Jr., Coaching Search

The Knicks are bringing back general manager Scott Perry for another season, but the fate of his staff won’t be determined until this summer, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Perry and the team had a May 1 deadline on their mutual option, so new president of basketball operations Leon Rose had to make a decision this week. However, Perry’s staff all have contracts that run through August, so Rose will take more time to evaluate each of them.

Those staff members include personnel director Harold Ellis, assistant GM Gerald Madkins, scout Fred Cofield and capologist Michael Arcieri, and Berman notes that none of them are guaranteed to remain with the team. He adds that Perry will have input into Rose’s future hires for the scouting department.

Perry has a long relationship with NBA mogul William Wesley, who Berman believes is providing behind-the-scenes advice to Rose. Perry’s new contract runs for one season, and he will likely get the chance to earn a longer deal based on his decisions going forward.

There’s more from New York:

  • Keeping Perry around will provide continuity for the Knicks heading into the draft and the offseason, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Perry has spent the past three years with the organization and worked closely with former team president Steve Mills before he was fired in early February.
  • The decision to dismiss Mills right before the trade deadline probably postponed plans to trade Dennis Smith Jr., Ian Begley of SNY.tv states in a mailbag column. A source tells Begley that some people in the organization thought it was a “near certainty” Smith was going to be moved. Begley believes injuries and the death of a family member led to Smith’s regression this year and suggests he might be better off with another team, possibly the Magic, who reportedly expressed interest before the deadline.
  • Begley expects Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy to get consideration in the upcoming coaching search. Several agents and coaches told Begley they believe Rose will hire Tom Thibodeau if he doesn’t keep interim coach Mike Miller in place. Begley adds that Kentucky’s John Calipari shouldn’t be dismissed as a candidate, even though he has stated that he’s not interested in the job.

John Calipari Talks G League’s Ascension

Top prospects continue to flock to the G League as an alternative to a one-and-done season on a college team. Earlier today, it was reported that Daishen Nix will become the third prospect to join the G League’s new Select Team, which will be based in Southern California, following in the footsteps of Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari isn’t happy about the movement, though his concerns go beyond the fact that it takes away talent from his program.

“My issue with the G League trying to entice players by giving them more money, is not the kids that you’re getting,” Calipari said this week, as Jon Hale of USA Today relays. “It’s the thousands of ninth and 10th graders that think that’s how they’re going to make it, when you and I know it’s going to be 2%. We’re not talking 50. It will be thousands and thousands and thousands.”

Calipari believes that if young high schoolers see this as a feasible route, they will give up on their studies years before hitting college age. If most high-school prospects continue to play in the NCAA, players will have to remain focused on getting high enough grades to attend those colleges.

The Kentucky coach, who has been an advocate for allowing high school players to enter the draft, doesn’t think that most kids realize how finite the chances are of making a living in basketball is.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Perry, Atkinson, Anthony

Tom Thibodeau should have plenty of opportunities to return to the NBA next season, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Thibodeau, who was fired by the Timberwolves in the middle of the 2018/19 season, is frequently mentioned among the candidates to take over the Knicks. However, the Nets and Rockets are two other teams that might be interested, Bondy notes, while the Pelicans, Bulls and Hawks may also be in the market for a new coach, along with the Spurs if Gregg Popovich retires.

Sources tell Bondy that Thibodeau is confident he will be a head coach somewhere next season and has been getting advice around the league on the best opportunity. Bondy argues that Thibodeau doesn’t deserve all the blame for all that went wrong in Minnesota, suggesting that he had a good relationship with Andrew Wiggins, but couldn’t find a way to motivate Karl-Anthony Towns.

Bondy adds that interim coach Mike Miller remains a candidate to get the job on a full-time basis as new team president Leon Rose is impressed with his performance since taking over, while Kentucky coach John Calipari shouldn’t be counted out because of his close ties to Rose.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • The NBA shutdown has increased the chances that general manager Scott Perry will remain with the team, Bondy adds in the same column. The Knicks aren’t making personnel moves during the hiatus and are preparing for the draft with the current front office, which includes Gerald Madkins, Michael Arcieri and Harold Ellis, who all came to New York with Perry in 2017.
  • Kenny Atkinson isn’t the best choice for the Knicks despite his previous ties to the organization, contends Marc Berman of The New York Post. The former Nets coach hails from Long Island and served as an assistant with the Knicks under Mike D’Antoni, but a source tells Berman that Atkinson’s management late in games is considered questionable and he wasn’t able to win the respect of Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. Berman expects Rose to seek a more experienced coach with a better track record.
  • Zach Braziller of The New York Post examines the divided opinions on North Carolina’s Cole Anthony, whom the Knicks may consider drafting, given their need for a point guard.

Atlantic Notes: Calipari, Knicks, Brown, Nets

Kentucky’s John Calipari doesn’t seem like a realistic option to be the next coach of the Knicks because of the money it would take to land him, Ian Begley of SNY.tv writes. Calipari has a strong relationship with team president Leon Rose, so nothing can be ruled out. However, many other names, such as coach Tom Thibodeau and Kenny Atkinson, appear to be more realistic fits.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes the Sixers should give Brett Brown at least one more year. Ford argues that Brown has held this team together and is not the problem in Philadelphia.
  • Chris Chiozza, who is on a two-way contract, joined the Nets earlier in the season and the franchise is impressed with the point guard. Yet, if he is going to join the team for a playoff run, Brooklyn will need to waive somebody — Theo Pinson could be the odd man out, as Brian Lewis of the New York Post explains.
  • The Nets haven’t fully realized Taurean Prince‘s potential, Lewis contends in a separate piece. Brooklyn acquired and extended Prince last offseason and he has spent most of his time playing the four, which is not his natural position.

Knicks Notes: Wesley, Calipari, Sanon, Harkless, Rose

William Wesley is not expected to join the Knicks front office in any formal capacity, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. Known around NBA circles as “Worldwide Wes,” Wesley is a business partner of player agent Leon Rose, who is expected to be named the team’s head of basketball operations. It’s believed the Knicks would offer a position to Wesley if he wanted a front-office role, but his other business ventures make a formal title unlikely, Charania adds.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Former Kentucky players Kevin Knox and Julius Randle doubt that their former college coach, John Calipari, would want to return to the NBA to coach the team, Peter Botte of the New York Post relays. “The fans love him there, he’s got the basketball program on lock there,” Knox said. “I don’t think he would leave that opportunity to keep helping kids get to the NBA. That’s something he really loves to do. I think when he said he wasn’t going to do it, I think he was sold on that. I think he really doesn’t want to leave.”
  • It’s doubtful Ukrainian guard Issuf Sanon will ever play for the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Sanon was thrown into the three-team trade that sent Marcus Morris to the Clippers. New York acquired Sanon from Washington, which made him a draft-and-stash second-round pick in 2018. It’s possible he could join the Knicks’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Berman adds.
  • Forward Maurice Harkless, who was also acquired from the Clippers in the same trade, is thrilled to join the organization, Berman writes in a separate story. Harkless has an expiring $11MM contract and could be bought out but he has an affinity for the Knicks. “It’s a dream come true,’’ he said. “I was a Knicks fan growing up. I loved watching the Knicks on TV, I loved coming to the Garden for games when I could. And I actually played at the Garden in college, too, so it’s like I’ve come full circle now.’’
  • Rose’s connections around the league could make him the right fit to run the Knicks, NBA executives told Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Knicks Notes: Monk, DSJ, D-Lo, Rose, Payton, More

Before Steve Mills was removed from his position as the Knicks‘ president of basketball operations, there was some internal support for a potential trade with the Hornets that would have sent Malik Monk to New York, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Begley notes that Dennis Smith Jr. would’ve gone to Charlotte in the deal, though it’s not clear what other pieces would have been involved on either side. Both Smith and Monk were prospects the Knicks passed over in the 2017 draft for Frank Ntilikina.

Within his roundup of the Knicks’ deadline discussions, Begley also says that before Mills’ departure, there were members of the organization that felt as if they’d made “significant progress” toward a D’Angelo Russell trade with the Warriors.

We don’t know exactly how those talks played out, so it’s hard to say whether that confidence was warranted. But for what it’s worth, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Wednesday that none of New York’s offers had been “even remotely appealing” to Golden State. One of the Knicks’ proposals included Bobby Portis, Allonzo Trier, Ntilikina, and presumably some form of draft compensation, sources tell Begley.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a look at the Knicks’ impending hire of agent Leon Rose as their new head of basketball operations, citing one NBA executive who said, “MSG and CAA have been in bed for years. This shouldn’t be surprising.”
  • Berman notes in his article on Rose that the veteran agent is tight with Kentucky head coach John Calipari. However, Calipari said today that he has no plans to become the Knicks’ next coach, according to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic (Twitter link). Calipari said he’d help Rose in any way he can — “It just wouldn’t be to coach.”
  • One decision Rose will face this summer will be on Elfrid Payton‘s $8MM non-guaranteed salary for 2020/21. Berman examines the factors that will go into that decision, pointing out that Payton is a CAA client.
  • In an interview on Showtime’s “All the Smoke,” Kevin Durant was once again asked about his free agency decision last summer. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post details, Durant replied that he didn’t seriously consider any teams beside the Nets. “I looked at other places — the Clippers, I took a peek at the Knicks just to do my due diligence — but I really wanted to play for the black and white,” Durant said.

And-Ones: Calipari, Trice, Ochefu, Pistons

After receiving some interest from UCLA, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has elected to remain with the Wildcats, and the program made it worth his while to do so, reports Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com. According to Borzello, Calipari – who was already under contract through 2024 – has agreed to an extension that will run through his retirement, and will also feature a lifetime role as an ambassador to the university.

“Where else would I want to coach?” Calipari said on his radio show in confirming the news.

Calipari reportedly received a six-year, $48MM offer from UCLA before electing to extend his agreement with Kentucky, per Seth Davis of The Athletic. The 60-year-old is the highest-paid head coach in the NCAA ranks, earning a reported $9.2MM salary this season.

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

  • Travis Trice, a veteran G League guard who has been in camp with the Knicks and Bucks in recent years, is headed to Turkey to continue his professional career. After averaging 16.9 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 4.3 RPG in 36 total NBAGL games this season for the Austin Spurs and Wisconsin Herd, Trice has officially signed with Tofas SK, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Former Wizards center Daniel Ochefu, who appeared in 19 games for Washington in 2016/17, has signed with Spanish team CB Breogan, according to an announcement from the club (via Twitter). Ochefu spent most of the 2018/19 season with the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate, posting 14.8 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 39 games (24.2 MPG).
  • The Pistons will enter the offseason looking to fortify their point guard and wing spots, but won’t have much financial flexibility to do so. As such, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press wonders if attempting to re-sign Ish Smith and Wayne Ellington might make the most sense for the club.