Knicks coaching search: Breaking down the 9 coaches interviewing for the job

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NEW YORK — Out of the bubble and plotting toward the future under Leon Rose, the Knicks are moving forward with their coaching search. Tom Thibodeau has been the front-runner for months, but the Knicks are also linked to interviewing eight other candidates. They range in experience and potential. Some you’ve probably never heard of.

Here are nine interviewees gathered from intel and various reports:

Tom Thibodeau

Age: 62

Experience: Assistant for Timberwolves, Spurs, Sixers, Knicks, Rockets, Celtics. Head coach of Bulls and Timberwolves.

Background: A defensive specialist as an assistant who helped build the system that catapulted the Celtics to a championship under Doc Rivers in 2008. He was very successful at his first head coaching job with the Bulls, pivoting them quickly into a contender. But he feuded with management and was fired in 2015. Thibodeau resurfaced quickly in Minnesota and helped the franchise earn its only playoff berth in the last 16 years. But there were problems with Glen Taylor and relationships with the young players — specifically Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. More recently, Thibodeau said he learned from his mistakes in his previous stops. His relationship with Rose and Rose’s unofficial right-hand man, William Wesley, work in Thibodeau’s favor.

Kenny Atkinson

Age: 53

Experience: Assistant with the Rockets, Knicks and Hawks. Head coach of the Nets.

Background: A hardworking development guru who has shown a knack for extracting the most potential out of point guards. He developed Jeremy Lin in New York, Jeff Teague in Atlanta and D’Angelo Russell/Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn. With the Nets, he instilled an identity largely built on screens and a pace-and-space offense. His downfall in Brooklyn was not convincing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant on their future together as a championship team. Otherwise, Atkinson was known to have great relationships with his players and is the best choice for a young and developing team.

Mike Miller

Age: 55

Experience: Assistant with the Knicks, interim head coach with the Knicks.

Background: Miller started coaching college back in 1989 and it took him 30 years to land a spot with an NBA team. Then he took over for David Fizdale last season and acquitted himself well, improving the club and Rose took notice. Assuming he doesn’t land the permanent head coaching job, Miller is a candidate to return to the Knicks bench as an assistant.

Ime Udoka

Age: 42

Experience: Assistant with the Spurs and Sixers.

Background: A former player who learned under Gregg Popovich as a coach, having worked as a Spurs assistant for seven years. He’s well respected as a coach and a hot name, having interviewed last year with the Cavaliers. The Knicks might have competition for Udoka — he would reportedly be considered for the Bulls head coaching job if Jim Boylen is fired there.

Jamahl Mosley

Age: 41

Experience: Assistant with the Nuggets, Cavs and Mavericks.

Background: Mosley interviewed for the Cavs lead job last year so he appears in line for a head coaching opportunity sooner rather than later. He’s spent the last six seasons under Rick Carlisle in Dallas, and reportedly works frequently one-on-one with Luka Doncic. Mosley filled in as the head coach of Dallas’ Summer League squad and was an assistant in Team USA’s 2018 mini-camp.

Mike Woodson

Age: 62

Experience: Assistant with the Bucks, Cavs, Sixers, Pistons, Knicks, Clippers. Head coach of the Hawks and Knicks.

Background: Probably the most experienced NBA candidate also has strong familiarity with the Knicks, having coached their best season (2012-13) of franchise’s last 20 years. He was a candidate for the last Knicks opening in 2018 and feels he deserves another chance. Woodson also has a relationship with Rose as a client of Creative Artists Agency.

Chris Fleming

Age: 50

Experience: Assistant with the Nuggets, Nets and Bulls.

Background: Established himself as a coach in Germany, where he carried a club team to four consecutive championships. More recently, he coached Dirk Nowitzki and Dennis Schroder as the head coach of the German national team. Fleming has a strong connection to Atkinson as former college teammates at Richmond. Atkinson later hired Fleming as an assistant with the Nets.

Will Hardy

Age: 32

Experience: Assistant with the Spurs.

Background: The youngest candidate is a disciple of Gregg Popovich having worked his way up the Spurs ladder from an intern. Put it like this: Hardy is 32 and already in his 10th season with the Spurs. Rose clearly has respect for the Spurs tree since he’s also interviewing Udoka.

Pat Delany

Age: 40

Experience: Assistant with the Hornets and Magic.

Background: Reportedly a candidate for an assistant position under David Fizdale in New York, Delany has worked under Steve Clifford at two different NBA stops. He previously worked with Pat Riley in Miami as a scout and video coordinator, the same program that produced Fizdale and Erik Spoelstra. Like others on this list, he’s on the trajectory of head coaching soon in the NBA.


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