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Candidates and Odds for Knicks Head Coaching Job

New York Knicks

The New York Knicks head coaching job is either one of the most or least coveted job in sports, depending on personal opinion.

A coach could achieve immortality by bringing a championship to the Knicks franchise for the first time since 1973. They could also be yet another in a long line of coaches to fall victim to a tumultuous organization.

Regardless, New York needs a new head coach. Mike Miller has been serving in an interim capacity since David Fizdale was fired on December 6. Since the firing, they have a 6-9 record under Miller. Unless things improve exponentially, they will be searching for the next permanent hire outside of the organization.

TGH lists some intriguing options to replace Miller as the next head coach. Odds are provided by

Mark Jackson (+500)

Jackson was the head coach of the Golden State Warriors before Steve Kerr took the reins and created a dynasty. During his time in Golden State he earned a 121-109 record in three years and went to the playoffs twice.

Although he never reached a conference championship series, Jackson is a solid coach who has proven he can work with young rosters. New York has the sixth-youngest roster in the NBA, and will likely have another high pick in the upcoming draft.

Jackson would be a very safe hire for the Knicks. It is worth mentioning, however, that Golden State replaced him not because he is a bad coach, but because they believed he was not the one who could lead that team to an NBA championship. Steve Kerr proved them right, as the Warriors won the NBA Finals the very next year.

Kenny Smith (+600)

Two-time NBA Champion Kenny Smith has never coached in the league. He was a point guard who played in the league for ten years, averaging 12.8 points and 5.5 assists per game. Immediately after his retirement, he took to broadcasting and has been a staple of Inside the NBA.

New York Knicks
Kenny Smith in his current role as NBA analyst for TNT. (Photo by USA TODAY Sports)

With no head coaching experience, this would be a risky hire, but one Vegas seems to like. With their playoff drought and current state of affairs, one would assume Dolan and the front office would want a proven entity. But never doubt this owner’s ability to make a risky and/or unpopular move.

Smith may well be a coach in the NBA one day either way, and he will have to start somewhere. It could very well be with a team like the Knicks, where he and the roster could grow together and elevate each other.

Jeff Van Gundy (+1000)

Jackson’s booth partner, Jeff Van Gundy, was the head coach of the Knicks from 1995 until his sudden resignation from the team in 2002. Starting in 2003, he coached four more seasons in the NBA with the Houston Rockets.

In his 11 years with the two franchises, he missed the playoffs only once (with the Rockets 2006). He made one NBA Finals with the Knicks in 1999, losing to the Spurs in five games. Van Gundy never missed the playoffs while with New York, and only had one first round exit in his tenure there.

While the sudden resignation may still sting the organization, Van Gundy would be a good hire if the Knicks could lure him out of the booth. Although it may take a few years, he could whip a young team into shape and maybe even help sign some talent to surround those young players to reach the playoffs again.

Considering his history with the Knicks and its strange ending, this is a bit of a longer shot. But Van Gundy is certainly worth a phone call, at least.

Patrick Ewing (+2200)

Breaching into the realm of the much longer shots, Patrick Ewing would be a fun and crowd-pleasing hire for New York.

New York Knicks
Georgetown head coach and ex-Knick Patrick Ewing would be an interesting hire for New York. (Photo by Michael Conroy/AP)

A legend during his 15 years with the Knicks, he made the NBA All-Star roster 11 times. He averaged 21 points and almost 10 rebounds per game in his career and made the NBA Finals twice (losing both).

More recently, Ewing has served as a coaching assistant on four NBA teams. His current position is as the head coach of his alma mater, Georgetown, where he won an NCAA championship. He collected a record of 34-29 through his first two seasons, and is currently (as of January 8) 10-5 for the 2019-2020 season.

Ewing has earned a reputation of a charismatic coach who expects a winning mentality from his teams. That may not be a fit for such an inexperienced roster. But, if the Knicks are convinced that more draft picks need to be acquired before this team can compete, he would be a great stop-gap head coach to fill the seats for a few years.

Charles Oakley (+25000)

Just for fun, let’s talk about the longest shot has listed.

Oakley is another Knicks legend who earned a reputation of an enforcer during his 10 years in New York. He is a fan favorite player, who could not be more at odds with the organization itself, which is one of the reasons why the odds are not in his favor.

During February of 2017, Oakley and Madison Square Garden security got into a physical altercation as they tried to remove him from his seat. Apparently, he was being “boisterous” in his seat behind owner James Dolan, but never specific in animosity towards him.

In any case, an altercation broke out in the stands, and Oakley has not been back to the Garden since. In addition, he has one year of assistant coaching experience. So, not a safe bet, but it would probably be fun as hell.

Featured Image courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

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