Reports: Knicks interview Atkinson again for coaching job; management wants to hire runner-up as assistant


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Tom Thibodeau has been the wire-to-wire favorite for the New York Knicks‘ head coaching job, but it doesn’t seem as if he has secured the position quite yet. Jonathan Macri of Sports Illustrated reported Monday that the Knicks interviewed former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson again for the job. It is unclear if that was his second or third interview with the team, but Steve Popper of Newsday reported Tuesday that Thibodeau had not any contract talks with the Knicks so far. Those two facts together indicate that the Knicks genuinely have not made a final decision about their next coach. 

That should surprise no one. While reports earlier this month said that the Knicks wanted to hire their head coach before the end of July, their overall process has been extremely thorough. They interviewed a total of 11 head coaches, six of whom have head-coaching experience (Thibodeau, Atkinson, Jason Kidd, Mike Woodson, Mike Miller and Mike Brown) along with five that don’t (Pat Delany, Chris Fleming, Ime Udoka, Will Hardy and Jamahl Mosley). Several candidates have interviewed on multiple occasions, and that is creating an added layer of drama in the search. 

According to SNY’s Ian Begley, the Knicks are expected to hire at least one of the candidates they don’t choose as their head coach in an assistant role. While this has become a somewhat more common move in recent years (particularly in New York, where previous coaches Derek Fisher and David Fizdale both had assistants hired for them), it is precarious from the head coach’s standpoint because it essentially places a management-approved replacement on his own staff. Kidd, who reportedly had a great interview with the Knicks, was involved in a similar situation last season. The Lakers planned to hire Ty Lue as their head coach, but wanted Kidd as an assistant. He eventually turned down the job, and the Lakers hired Frank Vogel as their head coach and Kidd as an assistant. 

It is unclear whether any Knicks candidates would have similar pause, and if so, which other candidates that hesitation would be directed towards. What has become clear over the past several weeks is that the Knicks are leaving no stone unturned. That doesn’t guarantee that they hire the right coach, but if they don’t, at least they know it won’t be for lack of trying. 





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