The New York Knicks are the most valuable NBA franchise and were valued at $4.6B earlier this year. They also own the world’s most famous sports venue in the Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are one of the most recognizable sports teams on the planet but interestingly, the club has not found success in nearly a decade.
The last time the Knicks made it to the NBA playoffs was in 2013 when they lost in the second round to the Indiana Pacers. Since then, the Knicks have not won more than 37 games in a single NBA season and since 2013, five coaches have been hired and fired.
The last of these coaches who were fired was David Fizdale, who took over in from Jeff Hornacek during the 2018-19 season. Fizdale’s first year with the Knicks yielded a 17-65 season and after a 4-18 start to the 2019-20 season, he was also given the pink slip. His assistant, Mike Miller, took over when Fizdale was removed from his position. Miller did a decent job with the team but despite that, it is expected that the Knicks will hire a full-time coach for the 2021 season and the search is currently on.
Here are the odds to become the Knicks’ next head coach. These odds were taken from BetOnline as of 06/02/2020:
|Tom Thibodeau||-200||Mark Jackson||+450|
|Kenny Atkinson||+500||Mike Miller||+600|
|Jeff Van Gundy||+1200||Mike Woodson||+1200|
Who Are the Favorites?
Tom Thibodeau’s name has been on top of the rumor mill as well. According to The Athletic last February, Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations Leon Rose has Thibs on top of his list. Thibodeau checks the box for a big-name coach who has been to the top of the mountain. As an assistant coach, Thibodeau won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and helped the Men in Green back to the championship in 2010. In 2011, he led the Chicago Bulls to a 62-win season and was named as the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year. His last job was with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he doubled as the head coach and President of Basketball Operations.
Mark Jackson bleeds New York. He was born in Brooklyn, went to high school at Bishop Loughlin, played college ball at St. John’s, and was drafted 18th overall by the Knicks in 1987. The 1988 Rookie of the Year was head coach of the Golden State Warriors from 2012 to 2014. He amassed a record of 121-109 and took the Dubs to back to back playoff appearances. Jackson is credited for building the dynasty which Steve Kerr took to five straight NBA Finals appearances with three NBA title wins. Aside from his resume. Jackson also connects with the fans as he was a popular player when he played for the Knicks.
Like Tom Thibodeau and Mark Jackson, Kenny Atkinson also has a very good resume. He had three progressive seasons in Brooklyn and he led the Nets to the playoffs in 2019 despite not having a superstar on his team. Atkinson resigned earlier this season after the Nets struggled to find form with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant injured. Aside from his resume, Atkinson is very familiar with the Knicks as he served as an assistant coach from 2008-2012 before he went to Atlanta, then Brooklyn.
Mike Miller took over after David Fizdale was fired and as interim coach, Miller did well. He took over a 4-18 team and guided them to a record of 17-27 under his guidance. Miller has the respect of the players and according to reports, he will be given the chance to interview for the permanent job. Miller coached 13 seasons in the NCAA and was the head coach of the Knicks’ G League affiliate Westchester Knicks. He joined the Knicks as Fizdale’s assistant in 2019 before taking over on an interim capacity after Fizdale was fired.
Jeff Van Gundy has coached a total of 748 regular-season games in the NBA and was the New York Knicks’ head coach from 1995 to 2002. He helped the team reach the NBA Finals in 1999 where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs. Van Gundy also coached the Houston Rockets whom he led to three playoff appearances in four seasons. He hasn’t coached since 2007 and has been a broadcaster since he left coaching.
Who Will Be the Knicks’ Next Head Coach?
I think this is a three-man race between Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson, and Mike Miller. The Knicks are giving Miller an equal chance to apply for the job he inherited from David Fizdale. But because the Knicks have been losing for several years now, however, I think they need someone who can turn things around as soon as possible. Having said that, I think that the two best choices would be Tom Thibodeau and Kenny Atkinson.
But when I look at the Knicks’ lineup, I think that they would be better off with Atkinson than Thibodeau. Thbis is a great coach but his successes have come with teams that were already established or have stars. New York has plenty of young players who are unproven but they don’t have a star in the mold of a Kevin Durant, LeBron James, or Kawhi Leonard.
On the Other Hand
Kenny Atkinson is a coach who developed a star-less Brooklyn Nets team for over three seasons. He had an excellent first three years with the Nets, leading them to the playoffs during his third season there. He knows how to build a winning culture and develop lesser-known players.
Atkinson can deal with the New York media. He can develop guys like Julius Randle, R.J. Barrett, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson. We also saw Atkinson resurrect D’Angelo Russell in Brooklyn. He can work wonders for the Knicks, no doubt about it.
If this New York team had a winning team, then Tom Thibodeau would have been the perfect choice to coach the team. But when you have an underachieving team like the Knicks, you need a coach who can maximize the potentials of the players on this team.
I have to go with Kenny Atkinson here. Among the coaches in the odds board, Atkinson is the one who has the most recent coaching experience in the NBA. He hasn’t been away for too long and he knows what to expect from the modern NBA.
Prediction: Kenny Atkinson