Craig Robinson

Knicks Complete Second Round Of Head Coaching Interviews

The Knicks have completed the second round of interviews for their head coaching job, according to Steve Popper of Newsday.

As reports last month indicated – and as president of basketball operations Leon Rose later confirmed – the Knicks’ search process included a first round of informal meetings with the candidates for its head coaching position. More recently, the club conducted a second round of more formal interviews.

It’s not clear whether the Knicks are now ready to make their decision or whether the organization will narrow down its initial list of 11 candidates to a smaller group of finalists before finalizing a hire. Rose said during an appearance on MSG Network last month that he expects the team to make a decision on its permanent head coach before the NBA resumes its season later this month in Florida.

According to Popper, Tom Thibodeau – who has been considered the frontrunner since the start of the process – remains the odds-on favorite. However, New York’s search was wide-ranging.

In addition to Thibodeau and interim head coach Mike Miller, the club also interviewed former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, former Knicks coach Mike Woodson, former Bucks and Nets coach Jason Kidd, former Lakers and Cavs coach Mike Brown, and five current assistants without head coaching experience, including Ime Udoka of the Sixers.

The full list of candidates can be found on our 2020 head coaching tracker.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks will get the opportunity to learn about “the Spurs way” during their head coaching interviews, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who points out that besides current Spurs assistant Will Hardy, Udoka has also served on Gregg Popovich‘s staff.
  • In a mailbag for The New York Post, Berman discusses the Knicks’ coaching decision, potential offseason targets, Allonzo Trier‘s departure, and more.
  • Knicks executive Craig Robinson has been named the next executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (Twitter link). Robinson is on an expiring deal with New York and the expectation has been that he won’t be retained by the new management group, led by Rose.

Knicks Notes: Robinson, Ntilikina, Front Office

As a second-round pick in the 2018 draft, Mitchell Robinson came cheaper than a first-rounder, but his contract could create some complications if and when the Knicks look to extend him, as Mike Vorkunov and Danny Leroux of The Athletic explore.

Robinson has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for 2020/21 and a minimum-salary team option for 2021/22, making him a great bargain for the next two years. However, if the Knicks wait until the end of that four-year deal to try to re-sign him, Robinson will be eligible for unrestricted free agency and could sign with any team.

On the other hand, if the Knicks were to turn down Robinson’s fourth-year option and negotiate a new deal in the ’21 offseason, he’d be a restricted free agent, giving the team the opportunity to match any offer sheet he may sign.

As Vorkunov and Leroux observe, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets found themselves in a similar situation a couple years ago, and Denver opted to lock up its star center after his third year, significantly increasing his fourth-year cap hit but avoiding the risk of unrestricted free agency. Robinson isn’t on Jokic’s level, but it still may make sense for the Knicks to take a similar approach with their young big man to ensure they don’t lose him after his fourth year.

For now, Leroux estimates that Robinson might cost about $15MM per year on his next contract, but cautions the 22-year-old’s value could substantially increase or decline depending on his performance over the next year or so.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Within the above-linked piece, Vorkunov and Leroux discuss what Frank Ntilikina‘s next contract might look like, given his defensive strengths — and his offensive shortcomings. While they cite Dante Exum as one point of comparison, the Athletic’s duo notes that Exum’s three-year, $28.8MM deal with Utah ended up being an overpay. Leroux expects Ntilikina – a restricted free agent in 2021 – to get less than that.
  • In his latest mailbag, Ian Begley of examines how changes to the salary cap projection for 2020/21 might affect the Knicks, while also addressing the team’s coaching situation and a few other topics.
  • Nothing has been finalized yet, but sources tell Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link) that Knicks executives Craig Robinson, Gerald Madkins, and Harold Ellis are unlikely to be retained by new president of basketball operations Leon Rose.
  • In case you missed it, the Knicks are finalizing a pair of front office deals, with the team set to hire Walt Perrin and Frank Zanin as assistant general managers.

Latest On Knicks’ Front Office Shakeup

As the Knicks restructure their front office, Allan Houston appears to be in line for a promotion, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Houston, 48, was New York’s former assistant general manager and currently serves as GM for the organization’s G League affiliate in Westchester. He was a strong proponent of hiring that team’s former head coach, Mike Miller, as the Knicks’ interim coach after David Fizdale was fired. Houston has been with the organization since 2008 and has survived multiple management shakeups.

Bondy shares information on a few other prominent figures:

  • The Knicks have given up on an attempt to lure Rich Cho from the Grizzlies‘ front office. A source tells Bondy that Cho is happy in Memphis, where the team is a surprise playoff contender with a bright future built around Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. Cho has more than two decades of experience as an NBA executive and is a former GM with both Charlotte and Portland.
  • Vice president of player development Craig Robinson, best known as the brother of former First Lady Michelle Obama, is seeing a reduction in responsibilities. Robinson was hired three years ago by ousted team president Steve Mills to run the Knicks’ player development initiative. However, the organization has experienced a mixed draft record during that time and is using a lineup mostly consisting of players who were developed by other teams.
  • No decision has been made on GM Scott Perry, but he has a strong relationship with William Wesley (“Worldwide Wes”), who will have an unofficial role with the team through his close ties to incoming president of basketball operations Leon Rose. Perry was an executive in Detroit when Wesley was managing former Pistons star Richard Hamilton.
  • Bondy confirms that Tom Thibodeau, a former client of Rose’s Creative Artists Agency, is expected to be considered for the head coaching job.

Latest On Jeff Hornacek

Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek appears likely to find out within the next few days whether or not he’ll be retained for the 2018/19 season. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Hornacek expects to have a sit-down with president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry on Friday to discuss his future.

As Berman writes, Hornacek sat in on players’ exit interviews with Mills and Phil Jackson a year ago, but remains uncertain whether he’ll do the same again this year with Mills and Perry, which sounds like a red flag. The Knicks’ brass has been mum on the subject, but until he hears otherwise, Hornacek anticipates being a part of those meetings on Thursday and Friday.

“I plan on it,” Hornacek said. “No one told me no.”

The possibility of Hornacek’s dismissal at season’s end has long been rumored, but speaking today to reporters, including Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, the head coach sounded like a man making a case to keep his job.

“Obviously we started it and we’d like to continue it,” Hornacek said of his staff. “It’s very satisfying for coaches to take a team and build it and grow it. You can look around the league at some of the teams that are now some of the better teams in the league. They went through those same type of things. … Now all of a sudden have their teams four or five years later and maybe even home-court advantage for the playoffs. So sometimes people are wanting things to happen right away. But sometimes there’s patience. That’s what we’re looking for.

“You can’t expect a rebuilding situation and go out there and win 50 games,” Hornacek added. “That’s why they call it rebuilding.”

Already tasked with presiding over a rebuild, Hornacek hasn’t been given much to work with over the last two years, writes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Having been saddled with Jackson’s triangle offense in his first year with the club, Hornacek has seen the front office overhauled during his time in New York and neither regime has made a series of inspiring roster moves. The club has also been plagued by major injury woes, including Kristaps Porzingis‘ season-ending ACL tear.

Nonetheless, the writing seems to be on the wall for a coaching change. Although Hornacek spoke today about wanting to finish out the final year of his contract in 2018/19, expiring deals are rare for head coaches — with one year left, a coach can usually expect to sign an extension or receive his walking papers.

If the Knicks do part ways with Hornacek, expect Mark Jackson, Doc Rivers, David Fizdale, David Blatt, Jerry Stackhouse, and Jeff Van Gundy to be among the candidates on the club’s list of targets, according to Isola, who identifies current VP of player development Craig Robinson as a “long-shot candidate.” Robinson is a former college coach, Isola notes.

Knicks Notes: Player Development, Kanter, Jack

Speaking this week to reporters, including Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, Knicks executive Craig Robinson referred to the Knicks’ approach to player development as “innovative,” “transformative,” and “something that is completely new,” but said that he couldn’t get into specifics because “then everybody would do what I want to do.”

Given the Knicks’ spotty recent track record of player development, I imagine Robinson’s comments will be met with some skepticism from fans, but he should get an opportunity to prove the value of his philosophies in the coming years, having been hired by the new regime last August.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Count Enes Kanter among the veterans around the NBA frustrated by their declining minutes and by their teams’ frequent losses. “I came here to win games. I didn’t come here to get a good lottery pick,” Kanter said after Tuesday’s loss to Dallas, per Fred Kerber of The New York Post. “I came here to win games and make the playoffs. So games like this are just weird. They make me think, ‘Why am I sitting?’ It’s weird, but we’ve got 14 games left and I’ll just try to do my best for 14 games.”
  • Jarrett Jack admits that there were “a couple of situations” available to him if he had pushed for a buyout before the March 1 playoff-eligibility deadline, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. Despite not playing a single minute for the Knicks since then, the veteran point guard doesn’t regret his decision. “I’m not miserable,” Jack said. “There are things that are a lot worse. I remember when I was hurt, playing for nobody, sitting on the couch. I would’ve given anything to be in the uniform.”
  • After playing on a 10-day contract with the Grizzlies, guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes has returned to the Westchester Knicks, New York’s G League affiliate, per Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link).
  • As part of an ongoing Basketball Insiders series, Dennis Chambers offers up some suggestions for what he would do to try to build a contender around Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis.

Knicks Notes: Front Office, Dotson, Perry

The Knicks announced a series of hires for the team’s front office on Tuesday, which included Gerald Madkins (assistant general manager), Craig Robinson (vice president, player development and G-League operations), Harold Ellis (director, player personnel), Michael Arcieri (director, basketball strategy) and Fred Cofield (scout). Clarence Gaines Jr. will remain with the team as a scout as well.

“Last month, the day after I was hired, I started a full evaluation of the entire basketball operations staff,” Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a press release. “My first goal was to build-up the highest level front office in the NBA. We are adding a host of highly-regarded and respected basketball people to work with the Knicks to fortify the franchise for years to come.”

Madkins and Cofield both have ties to the Knicks organization, whereas Ellis and Arcieri worked on Perry’s staff in Orlando. Robinson, the brother-in-law of former president Barack Obama, had a prominent role in the Bucks’ front office before joining New York. As ESPN’s Ian Begley notes (via Twitter), Gaines was hired by since-departed president Phil Jackson, who credited Gaines with the team’s decision to draft Kristaps Porzingis.

Read below notable tidbits of news surrounding the Knicks:

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that Perry has been able to come in the Knicks’ front office and make the personnel moves he desires. Creating a staff of preferred people was reportedly one of the hurdles that kept former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin from coming to New York, so Perry seems to have at least some power in the early stages of his Knicks tenure.
  • Per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter), Damyean Dotson is the fourth second-round pick in 2017 to sign a contract worth over $1MM for the coming season. Dotson’s deal guarantees him $1.1MM in 2017/18 and $1.4MM in 2018/19. As for the $1.6M salary in 2019/20, it is non-guaranteed with trigger dates during the season to guarantee it.

Knicks Hire Craig Robinson For Front Office Job

The Knicks continue to re-shape their front office, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who reports that Bucks executive Craig Robinson is accepting a job with New York.

Robinson will fill multiple roles for the Knicks, working in a player development capacity, per Charania. It’s not clear exactly who Robinson will report to, but he’ll work in the club’s new-look front office under president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

Robinson, who served as the Bucks’ vice president of player and organizational development, played college basketball alongside Mills at Princeton from 1979 to 1981 and is the brother-in-law of former President Barack Obama.

With Phil Jackson out and Perry and Robinson in, it will be interesting to see what other changes the Knicks make to their front office this summer. Charania’s report suggests that Robinson will take over as the GM of the Westchester Knicks, New York’s G League affiliate. However, that role is currently held by Allan Houston, and Ian Begley of ESPN suggests Houston will continue to work in that position.

While Houston may not be impacted significantly by the hiring of Robinson, the future of Knicks executive Clarence Gaines – a Jackson hire – is less certain.

And-Ones: Robinson, Davis, Christon

The Bucks announced the hiring (via press release) of Craig Robinson as the franchise’s vice president of player organization and development. Robinson is a former head coach at Brown University (2006-2008) and the brother of First Lady, Michelle Obama. “Player development is instrumental to the success of our players on the court and their valuable impact in the community,” Bucks co-owner Wes Edens said. “We strive to equip every member of our organization with the tools they need to find personal success beyond basketball. As we continue to build a world-class franchise, we’re thrilled to have someone with Craig’s experience and character join our team and help our players reach their full potential on and off the court.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Former NBA player Baron Davis is still hoping to get another chance in the NBA, but noted that he doesn’t plan on attempting to go the D-League route again, Jesse Dougherty of The Los Angeles Times relays. When asked if he would consider playing in the D-League this season, Davis responded, “Nah, I’m trying to get back to the NBA, the real thing.” Davis had joined the Sixers’ affiliate in March and finished out the 2015/16 campaign as a member of the 87ers.
  • The Thunder‘s signing of guard Ronnie Price likely means that Semaj Christon is likely ticketed for the D-League or playing overseas this season, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman notes. After a solid showing in the summer league, Christon was being eyed as a potential third guard for Oklahoma City. The 23-year-old isn’t under contract with the team, but the Thunder own his draft rights. Christon spent last season with Italy’s Vuelle Pesaro.