Knicks Rumors: List of Possible Candidates to Replace David Fizdale Revealed

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2019

New York Knicks interim head coach Mike Miller gives forward RJ Barrett (9) instructions as he enters the game in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

The New York Knicks are very likely to finish the 2019-20 season with interim head coach Mike Miller at the helm, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, though a few established names could be in the running if the team makes an in-season change and pursues a long-term target:

"The Knicks want interim head coach Mike Miller to finish the season in the position, but I'm told they have a short list of potential in-season candidates, including Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Tom Thibodeau, should the team's faltering season necessitate another move. Miller was informed upon taking the job that it is an interim position, and that the Knicks would keep an open mind for a possible permanent hire throughout the remainder of the season." 

There are a few reasons why making a full-time in-season hire is tricky.

For one, it's harder to build a coaching staff in the middle of the year, as Charania noted, with many potential assistants already committed to other teams.

For another, the future of team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry is uncertain. It's possible that team governor James Dolan would prefer waiting to the offseason to bring aboard a new coach, especially if he's considering pulling the plug on Mills and Perry. Allowing a new front office the chance to pick their own head coach is better business. 

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And of course, there's no guarantee that potential options like Van Gundy, Jackson or Thibodeau would even take the job at the moment. Joining in the offseason, with more time to implement their preferred style and have some say in the team's roster construction, may be more ideal. 

It's not as though the Knicks need to be in a rush to make such an important decision. The team is just 5-20 on the year and the postseason is already out of reach, barring a wildly improbable turnaround. More likely, the Knicks will be sellers on the trade market and will spend the rest of the season looking to further develop young, core pieces like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina. 

Unless Miller dramatically alienates those players and stunts their development, there's little reason for the Knicks to make a coaching change before the summer.

As for the type of coach they'll target, Charania reported they're looking for "Someone who has the stature and ability to have success in the New York market."

In the team's six straight losing seasons (seven if you count this year), nobody has been up for the task, though there's a pretty strong argument to be made that the team's struggles have had far more to do with the poor leadership of Dolan and the poor decisions of the various front offices he's put in place.

There isn't a coach in the NBA capable of fixing the institutional failures of the Knicks.

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