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  • Knicks Extend Coaching Search, Will Speak to Hawks Coach Budenholzer, Spurs Assistant Borrego, More

Knicks Extend Coaching Search, Will Speak to Hawks Coach Budenholzer, Spurs Assistant Borrego, More

Photo: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Knicks front office leaders Steve Mills and Scott Perry will speak to more coaching candidates, including Kenny Smith, Mike Budenholzer, David Blatt, and James Borrego.

The New Yorks Knicks will reportedly speak to more head-coaching candidates, among those, Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer, former NBA player Kenny Smith, and San Antonio Spurs assistant James Borrego, per ESPN.

New York have already spoken to former Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale, Los Angeles Clippers assistant (and former Knicks head coach) Mike Woodson, G League coach Jerry Stackhouse, and former Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, according to various reports.

Per the same ESPN report, the Knicks will interview former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt aboard.

The Knicks have widened the scope of their coaching vacancy; they’ve looked at coaches on multiple levels, like the G League with Stackhouse, former head coaches in Fizdale, Jackson, and Woodson, and overseas coach David Blatt. While reports say Fizdale and Stackhouse have impressed Knicks brass, the front office is taking the search at a slow rate—opting to gauge interest among differently qualified individuals with various backgrounds. New York’s previous full-time head coaches—Jeff Hornacek and Derek Fisher—have been products of the previous regime, former team president Phil Jackson, and both served the position for fewer than three seasons, with Fisher’s termination coming 54 games into his season season.

For their next generation, on a team ripe with young, undeveloped talent, the Knicks appear to be checking many different faces of the league. Budenholzer, a former Coach of the Year honoree in Atlanta—and product of the Gregg Popovich coaching tree—spoke to the Phoenix Suns about their open coaching spot, but the two teams found no mutual connection. Due to the under-contract Budenholzer, if the Knicks were to bring the coach in, the team would have to compensate Atlanta (usually with pick(s), as we saw with Sacramento in the Scott Perry deal).

Kenny Smith, the former Houston Rocket who helped foil the Knicks in the 1994 Finals, serves as a commentator for NBA on TNT. Smith has no coaching experience; however, his former championship squad Rockets did interview Smith in 2016—before the team eventually settled on former Coach of the Year (and Knicks coach) Mike D’Antoni.

James Borrego serves as an assistant for Popovich and the Spurs. Borrego, from the University of San Diego, coached for the college before finding his way in the NBA. Borrego was an assistant on New Orleans and Orlando—before Magic head coach Jacques Vaughn was fired and Borrego replaced him in the interim. He’s been with San Antonio since 2015.

Lastly, on the front-office trip to Europe—ESPN reports that Mills has advocated for Blatt, with whom he played on the Tigers basketball team at Princeton. Although general manager Scott Perry has zero connection with the former Cleveland head coach, Perry did find value with Borrego during the coach’s interim stint. Perry served as vice president and assistant general manager in Orlando.

In the meantime, expect the Knicks to slowly evaluate their options around the league as another week of interviews—and a European mini-vacation—await the front office seeking to elevate their coaching for years to come.

Managing Editor of The Knicks Wall. Still not over the ’94 Finals. Andy Bernard levels of Cornell love.

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