David Blatt among available coaches who interest Knicks, sources say

ByChris Broussard and Ian Begley ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 12, 2016

New York Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis continues to get strong consideration to become the team's full-time coach, but team president Phil Jackson does intend to speak to other available candidates, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com on Monday that former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt is among the names who interest the Knicks.

Blatt guided Cleveland to the NBA Finals last year before his abrupt firing in January with the Cavs leading the East at 30-11. No coach in league history had been dismissed in-season with a higher winning percentage than Blatt's .732.

Blatt already is a known quantity to Knicks general manager Steve Mills, who played with him at Princeton.

NBA coaching sources told ESPN's Marc Stein at the time of the firing that Blatt was intent on coaching in the league again as opposed to immediately returning to the European game, where he was hugely successful at both the club and international level.

If Blatt were to get serious consideration for the Knicks position, it would indicate Jackson is not restricting himself to candidates who run his preferred triangle offense.

Other available coaches with previous NBA experience include Brian Shaw, Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson -- the latter three all possessing Knicks ties.

It's believed Jackson would have interest in the in-demand Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, who posted a 39-4 record as Steve Kerr's interim coach through the first half of the season and counts Jackson as one of his foremost mentors in the game.

Knicks legend Patrick Ewing, currently the lead assistant with the Charlotte Hornets, also has expressed interest in interviewing for the position.

Rambis has a 9-18 record as interim coach. He is close with Jackson, having worked two stints as an assistant coach under him with the Los Angeles Lakers, joining him for four of his 11 championship rings.

Jackson last publicly addressed the Knicks' coaching situation in March during the team's West Coast road trip and said then that Rambis is "perfectly capable" of coaching the club on a full-time basis.

"Kurt and I have a relationship that goes back to 2001," Jackson said. "He knows the ins and outs, what pleases me and [what] probably I want to have changed. ... We have a relationship that's much more tight" than Jackson's relationship with the fired Derek Fisher.

If Rambis lands the permanent job, it will be his second full-time coaching stint in the NBA after a two-season run with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Rambis posted a 32-132 record in those two seasons with the Wolves following a 24-13 stint as the Lakers' interim coach during the 1998-99 season that was shortened to 50 games because of a lengthy lockout.

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