Knicks’ Front Office Practicing What They Preach

When the Knicks unveil their new head coach, Steve Mills and Scott Perry will be able to stand before the media knowing they have checked every box in their search.

Interviewed a former NBA head coach? Check. See David Blatt, Mike Brown, Mike Budenholzer, David Fizdale, Mark Jackson, Mike Woodson.

CLEVELAND, OH – DECEMBER 29: Head coach Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors gestures from the bench in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on December 29, 2013, in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Interviewed a promising NBA assistant coach? Check. See James Borrego (Spurs), Jay Larranaga (Celtics), Juwan Howard (Heat).

Interviewed a G-League coach? Check. See Jerry Stackhouse (Raptors).

Interviewed a TV analyst with no head coaching experience? Check. See Kenny Smith.

Interviewed a coach with international success? Check. See Blatt.

Interviewed a coach with an understanding of this glorious melting pot we call New York? Check. See Jackson, Larranaga, Smith

We recently wrote that this search provided the Knicks’ management team a perfect opportunity to practice what they preach. They have asked the Knicks’ fan base, which hasn’t seen a playoff game in five seasons, to be patient.

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Mills and Perry have been. They have talked about laying a foundation that will last. They have talked about not making rash decisions. They have been as meticulous as an NSA code writer.

Mills, the team president, and Perry, the GM, released Jeff Hornacek on April 12. The calendar flipped to May on Tuesday. According to published reports, the organization will have a new coach by the end of the week.

In the 19 days since deciding to go in a new direction, Mills and Perry have interviewed 11 candidates. They’ve vetted many others. They were patient. They were thorough. They were dogged.

Ultimately, making the correct hire will determine the success of this search. But Mills and Perry have used every resource at their disposal. The search has given Knicks nation the best and clearest look at the new culture Mills and Perry promised:


Steve Mills and Scott Perry accentuate how the Knicks will stay consistent with their vision of maintaining a patient and careful approach to succeed in the future.

“I think this is a very desirable place and job, and I think a lot of candidates will see and understand the vision that we have, the type of people that we are,” Perry told reporters last month. “In conjunction with the city of New York and the historical significance of the New York Knicks, this will be an attractive job for a lot of coaches and [there] will be a lot of interest in this job.”

He’s right. There was no reason to rush this process.

There are 30 precious head coaching jobs in the NBA. Only one of them is on Broadway. Only one is in the mecca of basketball. Only one comes with a home court known as the World’s Most Famous Arena.

We can make a case for just about every one of the candidates, some stronger than others. Blatt, Budenholzer and Fizdale reportedly are the favorites.

JOHANNESBURG, SA – JULY 29: Coaches David Fizdale and Mike Budenholzer interacts with the campers during the Basketball Without Borders program on July 28, 2015, at the American International School of Johannesburg in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Blatt is well respected in international circles. His short stint in Cleveland was an online date gone wrong. Pairing a rookie NBA coach with a team built to win NBA titles now is like matching a debutante with a blue-collar worker.

Budenholzer comes from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree, which is impressive in its own right. He helped turn a young Atlanta team into an Eastern Conference force. Then management started dumping contracts.

Fizdale is well respected in NBA circles. He stood up to Marc Gasol in Memphis. Some say that’s exactly the reason he was let go. But for a franchise looking for accountability, Fizdale’s no-nonsense demeanor is intriguing.

Regardless of who Mills and Perry select, the final grade won’t be known for a couple of years. This is a young team that is likely to get younger. The next coach will have to build a team from the ground up.

He will have to be patient while holding the players accountable.

Mills and Perry have given Knicks fans a firsthand view of that.