Nine potential targets to replace Jeff Hornacek as New York Knicks head coach


The New York Knicks have fired Jeff Hornacek. Now, team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry turn their attention to finding the Knicks’ next head coach, a decision that will shape their tenure as team executives.

Below, we look at nine potential candidates for the coaching vacancy:

Mark Jackson

Jackson has close relationships with many in the Knicks organization and would be a popular hire among a significant portion of the fan base. The 53-year-old Jackson grew up in New York City, starred at St. John’s University in Queens and played for the Knicks, winning Rookie of the Year with the club in 1988.

Jackson coached the Golden State Warriors for three seasons through 2014, leading the club to back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 1992. Jackson’s departure with Golden State, though, will give Mills and Perry something to think about when they evaluate his candidacy.

A few months after the Warriors let Jackson go, team owner Joe Lacob explained the decision: “Part of it was, he couldn’t get along with anybody else in the organization. And, look, he did a great job — and I’ll always compliment him in many respects — but you can’t have 200 other people in the organization not like you.”

Steve Kerr replaced Jackson and the Warriors have won two NBA titles in the past three seasons.

Jeff Van Gundy

Like Jackson, Van Gundy would likely be a popular pick with many Knicks fans. Van Gundy coached the Knicks for parts of seven seasons, leading the club to six consecutive playoff appearances and an Eastern Conference title. Van Gundy’s run was the Knicks’ most recent period of sustained success; New York has won just one playoff series since Van Gundy left early in the 2000-01 season.

As is the question with Jackson, would Van Gundy want to leave his job as ESPN’s NBA analyst to return to coaching after an 11-season absence? That’s unclear, though one coach with ties to Van Gundy believes he would have interest in the Knicks job if management approached him. It’s also worth noting that multiple current Knicks players would be in favor of Van Gundy’s return.

Jerry Stackhouse

Stackhouse and Perry have a relationship from their shared time with the Detroit Pistons. The Knicks plan to contact Stackhouse to discuss the vacancy, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Stackhouse has coached Toronto 905, the Raptors’ G League affiliate, for the past two seasons. Last season, Stackhouse led 905 to the G League title and was named G League Coach of the Year. This season, Stackhouse’s club won the G League’s Eastern Conference title but fell to the Austin Spurs in the finals.

David Fizdale

The ex-Grizzlies coach will likely draw plenty of interest from teams with vacancies. Fizdale is popular among some of the league’s most influential players, in part because of his time as an assistant coach with the Miami Heat. He led the Memphis Grizzlies to the playoffs in his first season as head coach but was fired 19 games into the 2017-18 season amid a clash with Marc Gasol and an eight-game losing streak.

If the Knicks ask Fizdale’s old players, such as Dwyane Wade, about him, they would get a glowing review.

“One thing he’s going to bring to a team is his work ethic. He has a great offensive mind, but he has defensive principles with the Miami Heat that Pat Riley has instilled in every coach that’s come here,” Wade said recently. “He’s a good manager of personalities as well. The sky’s the limit for whatever organization is going to get him.”

David Blatt

The Knicks interviewed Blatt the last time they had a coaching vacancy, and it would be no surprise if they talked to the former Cleveland Cavaliers coach once again. Blatt played at Princeton with Mills and Knicks vice president of player development Craig Robinson. He remains close with both and was strongly considered for New York’s coaching vacancy in 2016 before then-team president Phil Jackson decided to hire Hornacek.

Blatt coached the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA Finals appearance, but he was fired in the middle of the following season for what then-GM David Griffin said was “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision.”

Blatt has been incredibly successful in Europe and has said that he’d like another chance to coach in the NBA.

Monty Williams

Williams, currently the vice president of basketball operations with the San Antonio Spurs, is familiar with the New York market. He played for the Knicks for two seasons (1994-95 and 1995-96) and is well-respected by members of the Knicks organization. He’s also had success as a head coach, leading the New Orleans Pelicans to two playoff appearances in five years before being fired in 2015. Williams left coaching after the tragic death of his wife in 2016 but has since said that he’d like to return to the bench.

David Vanterpool

Vanterpool, 45, is well-respected around the NBA for his work with the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s credited for playing a role in the development of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Under Mills and Perry, player development will be crucial for the Knicks, who hope to build a young core around Kristaps Porzingis to attract free agents in future offseasons. A coach who has experience developing players, such as Vanterpool, will be attractive to the Knicks’ decision-makers.

Ettore Messina/Ime Udoka

Most NBA teams want to poach talent from the San Antonio Spurs, so it would be no surprise if the Knicks showed interest in either Messina or Udoka, two members of Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff. Messina is one of the most successful coaches in European basketball and has coached with Popovich for the past four seasons. Udoka has been with San Antonio since 2012 and is viewed as someone who is well-equipped to make the jump to head coach.

Source : ESPN