NBA Rumors: Latest on Knicks Coaching Search, LaMelo Ball Draft Buzz

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2020

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau watches his team play against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)
Hannah Foslien/Associated Press

While teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and even the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets are preparing to participate in the NBA's restart, the New York Knicks are in offseason mode.

This is nothing new for the Knicks, who have regularly been out of the playoff picture weeks ahead of the postseason in recent years. New York hasn't been to the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, and questionable coaching has been a large part of the problem.

New York doesn't have a permanent head coach in place, but that could change in the near future. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Tom Thibodeau recently had a formal interview for the job:

This means that Thibodeau has made it past the preliminary interview stage and may indeed have the inside track toward the job—as some have recently predicted.

"The thought around the league is still that this is Tom Thibodeau's job to lose," Shams Charania recently reported for Stadium.

Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher appears even more certain, suggesting to WFAN's Moose & Maggie Show that Thibodeau could be named as head coach before NBA play resumes.

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"I would expect that in the next week or so, we'll get an announcement that Tom Thibodeau will be the next head coach of the New York Knicks," Bucher said.

The formal interview does suggest that it might be safe to pencil in Thibodeau as the Knicks' next head coach. However, putting that in ink might be a tad premature. Thibs is far from the only candidate New York has examined, and one of them could pose a sneaky-strong threat. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd still has a shot.

"Some insiders feel he's the lone long-shot threat to favorite Tom Thibodeau," Berman wrote. "[Executive VP William] Wesley is said to like Kidd, too."

Kidd's relationships with players like LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo could also play a role in New York's decision-making.

"LeBron loves Kidd," one team executive said, per Berman. "But Giannis swears by him."

Kidd does not have a flawless track record as a head coach, but if he can bolster New York's chances of landing Antetokounmpo next offseason, that could be enough to get heavy consideration. The Knicks are starving for a true superstar, and the Greek Freak fits that mold.

                   

LaMelo Pushing for New York?

Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

Of course, New York might not have to wait until the 2021 offseason to land a potential superstar. With a 21-45 record, the Knicks have a good shot at landing a lottery pick, and at least one of the top prospects could welcome a home in the Big Apple.

According to SNY's Ian Begley, there is a feeling that LaMelo Ball is hoping to be drafted by the Knicks: "As teams do their homework on players in the draft, there's been a consistent theme about LaMelo Ball: multiple teams believe Ball and those in his circle prefer that he lands in New York."

This meshes with an earlier offseason report from Berman.

"Some league sources believe the Ball camp will try to steer the 18-year-old point guard to the Knicks, though such a maneuver will seem difficult if Leon Rose's club doesn't rise into the top four in the lottery," Berman wrote back in May.

While the former Illawarra Hawks standout might not be an established star like Antetokounmpo, he is a notable personality with enough talent and upside to add some juice to the Knicks lineup. A young backcourt of Ball and RJ Barrett would be entertaining and be a fine core around which the Knicks could build.

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