Mike Miller (Coach)

Thunder Notes: Coaching Staff, Burton, Gray

The Thunder officially announced Mark Daigneault‘s coaching staff today, confirming in a press release that Mike Wilks, Dave Bliss, and David Akinyooye will return to the team as assistants, while Zach Peterson and Kameron Woods will be back as player development coaches.

The team also confirmed that former Knicks interim coach Mike Miller has been hired as an assistant, as reported earlier today. However, otherwise the group looks similar to last year — which makes sense, considering Daigneault himself was a Thunder assistant in 2019/20 before receiving a promotion this fall.

“This group has proven to be great collaborators during their time with the Thunder, complementing their ability to help develop our team and players,” Daigneault said. “They all share a deep commitment and understanding for the values of the organization and are dedicated to being continuous learners. I’m looking forward to welcoming Mike to the Thunder and our coaching staff as we work to maximize our team and program.”

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • Although he had his team option turned down last week by the team, free agent wing Deonte Burton remains on the Thunder’s radar, says Ian Begley of SNY.tv. According to Begley, scouts who watched Burton last season were impressed by his defense and athleticism, and believe he has some upside. He’s drawing interest from other teams besides Oklahoma City, Begley adds.
  • A source tells John Hollinger of The Athletic that Josh Gray – who was signed-and-traded from the Pelicans to the Thunder in the Steven Adams deal – was just days away from agreeing to sign with a Turkish team for a “tiny fraction” of the $1.62MM he got as a result of the sign-and-trade. It’s not clear whether or not Gray is in OKC’s plans for 2020/21, but he’ll get paid either way — his first-year salary had to be guaranteed as part of the transaction to make salary-matching work.
  • In case you missed it last night, the Thunder generated another huge trade exception (worth $19.5MM) by getting involved in the Hawks’ Danilo Gallinari signing to turn it into a sign-and-trade.

Thunder Hiring Former Knicks Coach Mike Miller As Assistant

The Thunder are adding former Knicks head coach Mike Miller to Mark Daigneault‘s staff as an assistant, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Not to be confused with former NBA sharpshooter Mike Miller, this Miller is a 56-year-old who started his coaching career over three decades ago at Western Illinois. He served as David Fizdale‘s interim replacement on the sidelines for the Knicks last season.

After New York got off to a 4-18 start under Fizdale, Miller led the club to a 17-27 (.386) record the rest of the way, earning himself an interview for the permanent head coaching position. However, the team eventually opted for Tom Thibodeau.

Although Miller’s performance down the stretch last season reportedly impressed some members of the Knicks, who were interested in bringing him back as an assistant, the veteran coach didn’t end up joining Thibodeau’s staff and sought out a new coaching opportunity. He’ll get that opportunity in Oklahoma City under a first-time head coach in Daigneault.

Rockets Notes: Morey, Miller, Roster, Fertitta

Although the 14-year tenure of Rockets GM Daryl Morey did not yield a Finals appearance, his place in basketball history as a daring risk-taker is secure, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle posits. Feigen suggests that the Rockets adjusted to modernity in innovative ways with Morey at the helm.

Morey pioneered significant changes in the team’s shot profile for years. The club went all-in on small ball with an undersized, versatile line-up this season following a deadline trade that sent traditional center Clint Capela to the Hawks.

There’s more out of Houston:

  • If the Rockets opt to hire Jeff Van Gundy to return to the team’s bench as head coach, he may bring former Knicks interim head coach Mike Miller aboard as well, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Van Gundy, who served as the head coach in Houston from 2003-07, worked with Miller during his time coaching Team USA during World Cup qualifiers.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic tracks some of Morey’s cost-cutting moves in recent years, and suggests that the team may have to finally dip into the luxury tax in building its roster under owner Tilman Fertitta if it hopes to compete for a title.
  • As we previously relayed, Fertitta indicated today that he’s looking to keep Houston competitive heading into the 2020/21 season, despite the departures of head coach Mike D’Antoni and Morey thus far this offseason. Led by veteran All-Stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the Rockets finished as the No. 4 seed in the West, and fell 4-1 to the eventual-champion Lakers in the second round of the 2020 playoffs.

Mike Miller Won’t Be Assistant On Knicks’ Staff

Both before and after the hiring of Tom Thibodeau, former Knicks head coach Mike Miller was said to have strong support to remain with the franchise as an assistant coach. However, Miller won’t be part of Thibodeau’s staff after all, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link).

As Bondy notes, Miller is still under contract and impressed members of the organization with the work he did as David Fizdale‘s interim replacement on the sidelines for the Knicks last season. After New York got off to a 4-18 start under Fizdale, Miller led the club to a 17-27 (.386) record the rest of the way, earning himself an interview for the permanent head coaching position.

However, Thibodeau won the competition for the top job, and based on Bondy’s report, it sounds like Miller won’t return to the sidelines in New York in any capacity.

Miller is pursuing another coaching opportunity, Newday’s Steve Popper tweets. Otherwise, he could return to New York in another capacity, perhaps in pro personnel or scouting.

The Knicks are gradually putting together Thibodeau’s staff, having hired Kenny Payne away from Kentucky and reportedly reaching an agreement to make Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant their associate head coach. There’s an expectation that former Knicks coach Mike Woodson will also be hired as an assistant, though as we saw with Miller, we shouldn’t assume that’s a done deal until it’s official.

Knicks Considering Mike Woodson, Kenny Payne As Assistants

Former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson and Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne are receiving strong consideration as Tom Thibodeau puts together his staff in New York, writes Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

The Woodson move appears to be “virtually done,” sources tell Zagoria, although nothing has been announced. Woodson has head coaching experience with both the Hawks and Knicks and led New York to its last postseason trip in 2013. He last coached as an assistant with the Clippers from 2014-18.

Woodson, 62, got an endorsement this week from former Knicks coach David Fizdale on Sirius XM NBA Radio.

“You know, it’s not an easy place to work, it’s not an easy place to coach,” Fizdale said. “There’s a lot of different things that swirl around the team and that’s just what comes with being the New York Knicks. And so because Woody successfully navigated that and really understands the dynamic of New York and New York City I think he’s really going to be of huge value to Thibs in that situation. And Woody can flat out coach and so that’s where he’s also going to help him is from that standpoint on his own accord.”

Payne is currently “weighing an offer” from the Knicks, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium. The 53-year-old has ties to both newly hired executive William “World Wide Wes” Wesley and team president Leon Rose. Payne is known for developing big men, including Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns. He also worked with Knicks forwards Julius Randle and Kevin Knox while they were with the Wildcats.

“KP is one of the best development coaches in the world,” Towns said last year. “KP is the horse beneath the jockey driving Kentucky basketball.”  

Mike Miller, who served as the Knicks’ interim coach after Fizdale was fired, is also being considered for a spot on Thibodeau’s staff, according to Corey Hersch of SNY.tv.

Knicks Notes: Woodson, Assistants, Thibodeau, Harkless

Former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson, who interviewed for the team’s top coaching position again this time around, is expected to rejoin the organization in some capacity, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

There were rumors during the Knicks’ coaching search that Woodson was a candidate to be hired as an assistant, so Charania’s report doesn’t come as a real surprise. Still, it’s worth noting that on a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Knicks GM Scott Perry said that Thibodeau will have the autonomy to build his own coaching staff, as Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News tweets. Perry added that the staff will be “diverse,” with a focus on player development.

Based on reports to date, it sounds like the support for Woodson has come from within the Knicks organization. If he ends up joining the team’s coaching staff, that should be confirmation that Thibodeau wants him on board as well.

Here’s more on the Knicks and their new head coach:

  • In addition to Woodson, Mike Miller, Rick Brunson, and Daisuke Yoshimoto are the names that Steve Popper of Newsday keeps hearing as possibilities for Thibodeau’s new coaching staff (Twitter link). Brunson and Yoshimoto both worked under Thibs in Minnesota.
  • Speaking to reporters today, Thibodeau cited three main reasons why he viewed the Knicks’ job as an attractive one, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Thibs praised the current roster, referring to it as “young and talented” with “room for growth”; he said he’s excited about the draft assets and cap flexibility the team has at its disposal; and he indicated that the presence of Leon Rose and William Wesley in the front office is also appealing.
  • Maurice Harkless, an unrestricted free agent this fall, isn’t sure whether or not he’ll be back with the Knicks in 2020/21, but he’s intrigued by the hiring of Thibodeau, calling him a “great coach,” writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Harkless hasn’t played for Thibodeau before, but met him earlier in 2019/20 when the veteran coach visited the Clippers.

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.

Jason Kidd Emerging As Frontrunner For Knicks’ Coaching Job?

1:17pm: Thibodeau is the Knicks’ first choice, but if he doesn’t reach an agreement with the team it could open the door for Kidd, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who hears from a source that Kidd “really wants” the job.

One source who spoke to Berman estimated that Thibodeau still has about a “65 percent” chance to end up with the job. Berman also reports that a final decision isn’t expected to be made until next week.


11:27am: Jason Kidd is emerging as a frontrunner in the Knicks‘ head coach search, a “plugged-in” source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

According to Bondy, Kidd’s odds of becoming New York’s next coach increased after negotiations with presumed frontrunner Tom Thibodeau hit a snag.

Considered a player-friendly coach, Kidd is viewed by the Knicks as an asset for attracting top free agents. However, according to Bondy, some people within the organization aren’t entirely sold on the former Bucks and Nets head coach, given how his stints in Milwaukee and Brooklyn played out.

Bondy suggests that if the Knicks go with Kidd, the front office would want to pick “at least some” of his assistant coaches. A source tells The Daily News that Kenny Payne, Rod Strickland, and Mike Woodson – who all have close ties to new Knicks exec William Wesley – would be candidates to join the staff as assistants.

Bondy hears from a source that the Knicks and owner James Dolan have been unwilling so far to agree to Thibodeau’s contract requests. According to Bondy, Thibodeau remains a possibility for the open position, but one side or both would have to make concessions. Retaining interim coach Mike Miller hasn’t been ruled out either, Bondy adds.

Ian Begley of SNY.tv reported on Thursday morning that the Knicks weren’t currently engaged in negotiations with any of their head coaching candidates and hadn’t made a contract offer to anyone. That doesn’t necessarily contradict Bondy’s report — it’s possible the team had earlier negotiations with Thibodeau and never got to the point where an offer was made. It’s also possible negotiations took place in the last 24 hours, after Begley’s report was published.

Begley also indicated on Thursday that there’s a “strong likelihood” the Knicks will have conversations with multiple candidates next week, so it may still be several days before the team finalizes its decision. The club is expected to have a new head coach in place by the end of the month.

Mike Miller Has Support To Remain On Knicks’ Staff

As the Knicks intensify their pursuit for a new head coach, interim head coach Mike Miller has support from people in the organization to remain on the coaching staff, SNY’s Ian Begley reports.

Miller, 55, was moved up from assistant coach to interim head coach following the dismissal of David Fizdale in early December last year. While the Knicks’ losing record persisted, the team played better under Miller, going 17-27 in 44 games until the season was stopped amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With new team president Leon Rose in the fold, the Knicks reportedly have former Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau at the top of their list. However, in addition to Miller, the team also plans to interview former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson and former Knicks head coach  Mike Woodson.

While Miller’s lone head coaching experience has been a 44-game stretch this season, he has experienced success at other levels, most notably winning Coach of the Year with the G League’s Westchester Knicks in 2017/18. It remains to be seen if Miller will be given a serious opportunity to become the full-time head coach, but he has impressed team officials enough to at least be in the mix.

Knicks Set To Begin Head Coaching Search

Now that the Knicks‘ season is officially over, the team is set to launch its search for a permanent head coach, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links).

Wojnarowski reiterates a point we’ve heard multiple times within the last week or two: Tom Thibodeau will be the frontrunner out of the gate to land the job. However, former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson and current Knicks interim head coach Mike Miller are also expected to be interviewed.

As we detailed earlier today, Mike Woodson, who previously coached the Knicks from 2012-14 and interviewed for the job again in 2018, is among the candidates the team plans to interview too. Thibodeau, Atkinson, and Woodson have all been represented by Creative Artists Agency, giving them a connection to new Knicks president of basketball operations – and former CAA co-head – Leon Rose.

The Knicks are unlikely to be the only bottom-eight team to begin addressing offseason business – such as a head coaching search –  now that their season is over. The Bulls, for instance, are one of the eight clubs that won’t be involved in the NBA’s restart, and there have been rumblings for weeks that Jim Boylen is very much on the hot seat.

No other head coaches on the league’s bottom eight teams are obvious candidates to be replaced this summer, but if any of those clubs want to make other changes to their coaching staffs or front offices, there’s no longer a reason to postpone that process.