Knicks Rumors: Villanova's Jay Wright 'Not Going Anywhere' Amid Interest from NY

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2020

Villanova coach Jay Wright calls to his players during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Butler in Indianapolis, Ind., Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. Butler won 79-76. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AJ Mast/Associated Press

While John Calipari is already answering questions about potentially coaching the New York Knicks, it appears the franchise could have their eye on another coach in the collegiate ranks.

Adam Zagoria of Forbes reported there is a "strong possibility" Villanova coach Jay Wright could wind up in New York. However, according to Dana O'Neil of The Athletic, Wright is "not going anywhere":

Dana O'Neil @DanaONeilWriter

Let's quash this stuff before it gets started: source told me Jay Wright is not going anywhere. Not to the Knicks. Not to the Sixers. Not to Oz. His house is for sale. He's not.

Wright, 58, has been the coach at Villanova since 2001. He has consistently turned down interest from the NBA and other college programs to stay in his home state of Pennsylvania.

The Knicks contacted Wright about a potential interview in 2018 but he declined.

"It's not that you're not interested, I just don't want to leave," Wright told Zach Braziller of the New York Post at the time. "It's the Knicks. You love the Garden, you love New York City, you love the Knicks. I just know I don't want to leave Villanova.

"I love my job. You would love that opportunity, that challenge, especially in New York, especially the Knicks, but you have to leave your job, and I love my job."

It's unclear whether a two-year gap has changed Wright's mind about potentially making an NBA leap. He has put together a Hall of Fame resume at Villanova that includes two national championships, four Final Fours and two Naismith Coach of the Year honors.

There's an argument to be made that Wright has accomplished all he can at Villanova; turning the Knicks into a winner could be the final feather in a great coaching career.

The Knicks fired coach David Fizdale in December. Mike Miller has taken over on an interim basis since, but the team is expected to make a new hire once Leon Rose is in place as the Knicks' new president of basketball operations. Rose has widely been reported as the team's choice but has not been officially announced.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported the Knicks are also expected to consider Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy for their head coaching vacancy.

Even if Wright winds up being the first choice, there's reason for both sides to be cautious. Wright has spent his entire career at Villanova coaching players who stay with the program, not prep stars bound for NBA superstardom. Randy Foye and Mikal Bridges are the only two players coached by Wright to be taken in the lottery.

Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Beilein, a college lifer who left Michigan to take the NBA plunge after last season, has learned the difficulties of the transition the hard way. That's all without mentioning the rampant dysfunction of the Knicks franchise, which has made it out of the first round just twice since the turn of the century.