Kenny Smith

Latest On Knicks’ Head Coaching Search

9:00pm: The Knicks will meet with Mike Budenholzer on Sunday, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets.

7:48pm: Add James Borrego to the list of candidates scheduled to interview with the Knicks regarding their coaching vacancy. Ian Begley and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN report that the current Spurs assistant has been granted permission to interview for the position.

Borrego was previously linked as a potential Suns candidate although it wasn’t known at the time whether he had been granted permission to interview there.

Worth noting is that Borrego worked with Knicks general manager Scott Perry in Orlando between 2012 and 2015, serving as an assistant and eventually interim head coach prior to joining San Antonio.

Here’s more on the search for a new Knicks’ coach:

  • Representatives from the franchise will travel abroad to interview David Blatt this week. Wojnarowski and Begley write that Blatt has a strong relationship with Knicks president Steve Mills but doesn’t have a relationship with Perry.
  • For what it’s worth, the ESPN scribes say that Jerry Stackhouse and David Fizdlae both made strong cases for themselves in their previously conducted interviews.
  • And finally, Kenny Smith‘s interview with the franchise is now in the books, although the ESPN piece gives no indication of how it went. Smith is a native of New York but has no coaching experience.

Coaching Notes: Messina, Hornets, K. Smith, Knicks

As we relayed last weekend, the Hornets have been granted permission to interview Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for their open head coaching position. With Messina’s Spurs still alive in the postseason – and Gregg Popovich away from the team to be with his family following the death of his wife – the veteran assistant isn’t currently available for that interview. But he may be soon.

As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes, the Hornets intend to move quickly to meet with Messina once the Spurs’ season is over. With San Antonio trailing Golden State 3-0, that series could end as early as Sunday. And according to Bonnell, the meeting between the Hornets and Messina is currently on track to take place in the middle of next week, unless the Spurs can win a couple games against the Warriors and extend the series.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates and items from around the NBA:

  • Kenny Smith confirmed on TNT on Thursday night that he will indeed be interviewing with the Knicks for their head coaching job on Friday. As Marc Berman of The New York Post relays, his fellow TNT broadcasters gave him a few friendly pieces of advice, including making sure that he knows how to pronounce “Kristaps Porzingis.”
  • In a terrific – and in-depth – piece for ESPN.com, Kevin Arnovitz takes a wide-ranging look at the head coaching landscape, identifying most of the candidates who will receive consideration for the open jobs this spring.
  • Magic veteran Marreese Speights says his preference is to play for a head coach who has experience as an NBA player himself. With that in mind, John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com explores whether former players have a leg up in NBA head coaching searches, speaking to other players – and Magic president Jeff Weltman – about the subject.
  • To follow the latest updates on the NBA’s current head coaching searches, be sure to keep an eye on our tracker, which we’re updating daily.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks’ HC Search, Celtics, Embiid

Following up on Wednesday’s report that the Knicks will interview Kenny Smith for their head coaching position, Marc Berman of The New York Post classifies the TNT analyst as a long shot, suggesting that it may simply be a “courtesy interview,” unless Smith has interest in joining the coaching staff as an assistant.

A job as an assistant is also a possibility for Mike Woodson, according to Berman, who writes that there has been speculation about a scenario in which the Knicks hire Mark Jackson as their new head coach and bring aboard Woodson as Jackson’s top assistant.

The Knicks continue to go through the interview process, so it’s probably too early to suggest that the team is leaning toward a single candidate, but it still seems as if Jackson, David Fizdale, and David Blatt represent the top options for the club. Jerry Stackhouse was reported to be a part of the Knicks’ “top tier” of candidates too, but Berman’s sources suggest Stackhouse may be the top choice for the Magic.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Kyrie Irving blockbuster and the Celtics‘ lack of activity at the trade deadline generated most of the headlines during the 2017/18 league year, but Danny Ainge has done a nice job filling out the roster with under-the-radar acquisitions, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. Forsberg points to the signings of players like Aron Baynes, Shane Larkin, and Daniel Theis as moves that paid off for Boston.
  • While the Celtics have done an admirable job complementing their big veteran contracts with affordable rookie deals, the team will have to look ahead and consider which players are long-term keepers when their youngsters start getting second contracts, tweets Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. As Mannix notes, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier will be up for raises soon, with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to follow down the road.
  • While the Sixers and Joel Embiid – who remains doubtful to play in Game 3 – would both love to see the franchise center on the court during the team’s first-round series against the Heat, his orbital bone injury is “no joke,” writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Given the risk of further damage to Embiid’s eye, the 76ers are right to play it safe with Embiid this year, in Pompey’s view. That’s especially true when considering Philadelphia’s long-term investment in the young big man — his maximum-salary extension goes into effect in 2018/19.
    (Note: Embiid has been upgraded to probable for Game 3 — 3:55pm)

Knicks Notes: Coaching Search, O’Quinn, Noah

The Knicks aren’t afraid to take their time as they look for their next coach, according to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Today was Mark Jackson‘s turn to interview with team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry in Los Angeles, one day after Jerry Stackhouse. News broke tonight that TNT analyst Kenny Smith will be interviewed Friday. Sessions are also scheduled for David Fizdale, Mike Woodson and David Blatt, and Isola states that more candidates could emerge.

Fizdale had an interview today with the Suns and seems to have emerged as the most popular coach on the market. He has a connection with James Jones, a former Heat player who now works in the Phoenix front office and is reportedly a strong advocate for Fizdale. The Knicks are attracted to Fizdale because he has experience with a winning organization in Miami and he has a strong connection to LeBron James, whom the Knicks haven’t given up hope of someday acquiring, Isola adds.

There’s more tonight from New York:

  • Jackson’s aversion to analytics may doom his chances with the Knicks, writes Gary Peterson of The San Jose Mercury News. Jackson had a reputation as an old-school coach with the Warriors and was often dismissive of modern techniques. “The [Golden State] analytics staff encountered more resistance than they anticipated,” said Erik Malinowski, author of a book on the building of the Warriors.
  • Backup center Kyle O’Quinn isn’t ready to make a decision on his player option, relays Jordan Lauterbach of Newsday. O’Quinn, who recently changed agents, will earn $4.26MM if he decides to opt in for next season. “I came into the season, I don’t want to say without a role, but knowing that anything can happen,” he said. “Whether it be trade talks or things like that, I think I handled it well by putting myself in a solid position where I could display what I could do.”
  • The Knicks should resist the temptation to stretch Joakim Noah‘s contract over the next five seasons, advises Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks points to Deron Williams in Brooklyn and Josh Smith in Detroit as instances where teams have regretted compromising their long-term flexibility. Marks also recommends delaying an extension for Kristaps Porzingis to create more cap room for next summer.

Kenny Smith To Interview With Knicks

Kenny Smith is the latest addition to the Knicks’ coaching search, according to an ESPN report. The TNT analyst, who has no NBA coaching experience, will reportedly interview with the team Friday. Smith played in the league for 10 seasons and joined Turner Sports in 1998.

The Knicks have already held interviews with Mark Jackson and Jerry Stackhouse and plan to bring in David Fizdale later this week. That will be followed next week by a session with David Blatt.

They have also received permission from the Clippers to talk to assistant coach Mike Woodson, but he’s not in the top tier of candidates, according to ESPN.

Northwest Notes: Stephenson, Turner, Blazers

Newly acquired Timberwolves guard Lance Stephenson squared off against his former team Friday and Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had nothing but positive things to say about the 26-year-old journeyman, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

We had no problem whatsoever with him,” Gentry said regarding New Orleans’ decision to waive the then-15th man on their roster after a groin injury in November. “As a matter of fact, he probably raised our energy level as much as anyone. I think he’ll be fine. He’s playing for a great [Timberwolves] coach who loves energy and toughness and stuff like that.”

The Pelicans faced criticism at the time for parting ways with Stephenson as he recovered from the long-term injury but did so to free up space on their roster for Archie Goodwin (who has since been waived). Now Stephenson is back at full strength and on a 10-day contract looking to stick in Minnesota with a Timberwolves roster led by head coach Tom Thibodeau.

In two games with the Timberwolves so far, Stephenson has posted 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game. He’ll make $72K with Minnesota over the duration of his 10-day contract, in addition to the $1.2MM he’s owed by the Pelicans.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The news that Trail Blazers swingman Evan Turner will miss 5-6 weeks comes just as the offseason acquisition was starting to find a rhythm in Portland, writes Mike Richman of The Oregonian. Turner’s absence could thrust Allen Crabbe and Moe Harkless into a bigger role defensively where Turner had been checking the opposing team’s most potent perimeter threat. In the same column, Richman also discusses the progress that Al-Farouq Aminu has made on the offensive end since being relegated to the bench.
  • With a 23-31 record, the Trail Blazers remain very much in the hunt for the final Western Conference playoff berth (Denver sits in the eight-seed at 24-29) but TNT analyst Kenny Smith is skeptical that they have enough resources. “I don’t think they have a lot of talent, honestly. I think that’s the problem,” Smith said. Molly Blue of The Oregonian relayed both Smith’s and Charles Barkley‘s reservations about the guard-heavy roster.
  • When budding Nuggets star Nikola Jokic dropped 40 points on the Knicks Friday, he became just the second Denver player to do so in Madison Square Garden, writes Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. The last? David Thompson in 1978,

Western Notes: Smith, Lakers, Kings

The Rockets have informed TNT analyst Kenny Smith that he will not be the next coach of the team, citing a need for a head coach with experience, a source tells Calvin Walkins of ESPN.com. Houston was impressed with Smith and the team believes he will become a head coach in the future, Walkins adds. “The Rockets have a philosophy of what they think their coach should be,” Smith said on TNT’s pregame show. “But right now I’m here, and it looks like I’m going to be here.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak indicated that “nobody’s off limits” in a trade, writes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News“You have to take phone calls. If that does happen, that’s a good thing,” Kupchak said. “That means you have players that other teams want.” 
  • The Lakers are expected to make their first round pick available should they end up with the No. 3 overall pick, multiple sources tell Chad Ford of ESPN.com. If they land the No. 3 selection and they do not trade it away, Dragan Bender is the optimal pick for Los Angeles, Ford opines.
  • Kings president of basketball operations Vlade Divac is high on Buddy Hield and he could be the selection should the Kings move up in the draft lottery, Ford writes in the same piece. If they don’t move up in the lottery, Ford expects the team to seek out a trade, as the franchise is looking to win now.
  • The Suns are most likely to pick Bender provided they don’t end up with a top-2 pick, Ford argues in the same piece. Phoenix has a 24.5% chance at landing a top-2 pick and a 82.8% chance at landing a top-5 selection.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Spurs, Joerger, Mavs

The Rockets‘ coaching search continues, and the team is focused on candidates that have former head coaching experience, or have significant experience as assistants, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Feigen hears that while TNT analyst Kenny Smith impressed the Rockets in his interview, he’s not in the running for the position. Frank Vogel and Ettore Messina are believed to still be in the mix, with a source telling Feigen they’re “part of [the] process,” but there has been no confirmation that they’ve had formal interviews. Houston could conduct second interviews with candidates by the end of the week, says Feigen.

Meanwhile, Jeff Van Gundy has received interest from the Rockets as well, a source tells Feigen. Still, Houston has not yet met with JVG as the team takes its time to familiarize itself with other candidates.

Here’s more from across the Southwest:

  • LaMarcus Aldridge and David West, who could have played – and potentially been paid more – elsewhere this past season, said in the wake of San Antonio’s season-ending loss that they had no regrets about joining the Spurs, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News details. Aldridge remains under contract with the Spurs for several more years, while West will have to make a decision on his player option next month.
  • Former Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger – who is now the coach in Sacramento – spoke to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal about the end of his tenure in Memphis, insisting that his relationship with team management was “excellent.” “I wanted to prove to them that I was the guy to go forward for many years. They didn’t feel so,” Joerger said. “But we move on with a lot of fond memories.”
  • The Grizzlies brought in Northern Iowa guard Wes Washpun to participate in a group workout on Monday, per Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops (Twitter link). Washpun previously worked out for the Jazz and Hawks.
  • Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News doesn’t expect the Mavericks to start the rebuilding process until after Dirk Nowitzki decides to retire, which may still be a couple years away.

Southwest Notes: Smith, Demps, Labissiere, Ulis

Kenny Smith, a candidate for the Rockets‘ head coaching position, said he had “a great meeting” with team officials, relays Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. Smith sat down with owner Leslie Alexander and GM Daryl Morey for 2 1/2 hours Tuesday at Alexander’s Florida home. “They have a clear vision of what they want to do,” Smith said. “I have a clear vision of what I’d like to do. Sometimes you meet in the middle. Sometimes it doesn’t meet at all, but it was something that we both had to explore, and [are] still exploring.” Smith, who helped bring two NBA titles to Houston in the mid-1990s, said he and the team are “just staying in contact” with each other at this point. He added that he enjoys his job as a TNT analyst and said it would take a fantastic offer to make him leave.

There’s more tonight from the Southwest Division:

  • The combine in Chicago is “an integral part of the draft process,” Pelicans GM Dell Demps told Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. Coaches, GMs and other team officials from around the league gather each year to watch prospects display their skills and get to know them on a personal basis. Demps said that contact is vital in preparing for the draft. “Most NBA coaches do not get the opportunity to watch college players during the NBA season [due to the 82-game schedule], so the combine is usually the first time they can watch them play in person,” he said.
  • The Pelicans spoke with Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link).
  • The Spurs and Grizzlies were among the nine teams that interviewed Kentucky sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis, relays Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link).
  • Seton Hall sophomore point guard Isaiah Whitehead had an interview with the Rockets, tweets Zach Braziller of The New York Post.

Rockets Notes: Howard, Smith, Hornacek

Almost everyone in the NBA expects Dwight Howard to opt out of his Rockets contract, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, but the Perry Rogers client wouldn’t confirm that he’ll do so when he spoke Tuesday on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” insisting that he hasn’t made a decision and that he hasn’t thought about which team he’ll play for next season, Robbins notes. That’s in spite of an April report that identified four front-runners to sign Howard this summer. See more on Howard amid the latest on the Rockets.

  • The big man remains confident in the viability of his pairing with James Harden, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. “I think we can [succeed together],” Howard said. “I believe we can. Both of us have to put our egos and our pride to the side and say, ‘Hey, we need each other to win.’ That’s the only way we’re going to win.”
  • Howard’s reputation hasn’t been the same since his messy split with the Magic four years ago, but he took strides toward repairing it with his charm and deft handling of the questions from the TNT panel Tuesday, Robbins believes. “I want to win,” Howard said. “That’s why I play this game, and I don’t want to finish my career and not be up on that podium.”
  • Still, no Rockets teammate was asking at season’s end for Howard to return, Watkins tweets, suggesting that it seems as though everyone assumes he’s leaving.
  • The Rockets completed scheduled interviews Tuesday with Kenny Smith and Jeff Hornacek and plan more interviews to come, a source told Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com (ESPN Now link). Houston reportedly interviewed David Blatt on Monday and previously did so with Mike D’Antoni, Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell and Rockets assistant Chris Finch. Former interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff interviewed but took himself out of the running. A talk with Hornets assistant Stephen Silas is apparently on the docket and the team would reportedly like to interview Frank Vogel. The Rockets expressed interest in Lionel Hollins, Feigen reported, and college coaches Bill Self and Shaka Smart are said to intrigue the team. Still, Jeff Van Gundy seemingly remains the favorite.