Sources: Knicks plan interviews with David Blatt, James Borrego, Mike Budenholzer

ByAdrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley ESPN logo
Saturday, April 21, 2018

The New York Knicks plan to interview former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt in Europe next week, league sources told ESPN.

Blatt is coaching a team in Turkey this season.

After the trip overseas, the Knicks are expected to meet with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego in New York, league sources said. The Spurs granted permission to New York to interview Borrego, sources said.

The Knicks also will meet with Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer on Sunday, sources said.

Among the Knicks' head-coaching interviews already completed, David Fizdale and Jerry Stackhouse made strong cases for themselves, league sources told ESPN.

Knicks GM Scott Perry is planning to pair the European trip with a scouting side trip, sources said. The Perry-Blatt meeting will be telltale to Blatt's candidacy. Blatt has a strong history and relationship with Knicks president Steve Mills, and Mills has been an advocate for Blatt to become the Knicks' head coach when he worked with Phil Jackson and now Perry.

Nevertheless, Perry has no relationship with Blatt and would need to be convinced that they could work together -- and that Blatt, 58, could be an asset in connecting with players and ultimately recruiting free agents to New York. Blatt's credentials as a European coach are unmatched, and his season-plus with the Cavaliers included a 83-40 record and trip to the 2015 NBA Finals.

Borrego, 41, is considered one of the top young assistant coaches in the NBA, and his time together with Perry with the Orlando Magic has played a part in his ability to interview for the Knicks' job. Borrego made a strong impression on Perry in a 30-game stint as interim head coach in the 2014-15 season.

Borrego was the runner-up to Fizdale in the Memphis Grizzlies' search process two years ago and made a strong impression on the Houston Rockets in meetings before they hired Mike D'Antoni. Borrego has turned down college head-coaching opportunities to remain on coach Gregg Popovich's staff and pursue the chance to be an NBA head coach.

The Hawks earlier gave permission to Budenholzer to meet with the Phoenix Suns and would be open to allowing him to become a candidate for other head-coaching openings, league sources previously said. Budenholzer has two years and $13 million-plus left on his contract, with the Hawks headed into a full rebuilding process.

Potential barriers to Budenholzer ending his partnership with Atlanta include the Knicks making an offer, agreeing to a contract and agreeing to possible compensation to Atlanta.

The Knicks also interviewed Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson and TNT analyst Kenny Smith for the vacancy. Woodson, who was fired by the Knicks in 2014 after two-plus seasons, isn't considered to be in the top tier of initial candidates. Former Golden State Warriors coach and ESPN analyst Mark Jackson also interviewed for the job.