Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
We're still a couple of months away from the Knicks earnestly engaging in a coaching search. So it's a bit too early to say who is -- and isn't -- a significant candidate for the job.
But if the Knicks want to make another run at Villanova head coach Jay Wright this offseason, they'll need to make an extremely strong pitch to lure him out of Philadelphia.
An NCAA source said Tuesday that Wright would need to be "overwhelmed by the opportunity" to even consider leaving Villanova for another job. This echoes a report from The Athletic's Dana O'Neil, who noted Monday, "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."
Forbes reported that the Knicks landing Wright is a "strong possibility." But the NCAA source on Tuesday downplayed the chances of a Wright-Knicks pairing.
The Knicks had interest in Wright during their last coaching vacancy in 2018, but never had a chance to interview the decorated coach. He politely declined their overture. New York, under then-team president Steve Mills and current general manager Scott Perry, eventually hired David Fizdale as head coach.
Wright is still held in high regard by many currently in the Knicks organization, though it's unclear if any of those people will be involved in the head coaching search in the offseason.
The two opinions that will matter most: new Knicks president Leon Rose and owner James Dolan. It's widely assumed that Rose will hire his own head coach, replacing interim Mike Miller. People of influence at Madison Square Garden would like to see Miller remain with the organization, though, regardless of what happens with the head coaching search.
It's also fair to assume that Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau -- coaches with connections to Rose -- will get consideration for the Knicks' head coaching job. It's worth noting that John Calipari, Mark Jackson and Mike Woodson also have connections to Rose. As a top player agent at CAA, Rose likely has connections to Wright and dozens of other top college coaches.
On Van Gundy, it's worth noting that, as we reported at the time, the ex-Knicks head coach was open to discussing the Knicks' opening with the club during their last coaching search. But the organization, under Mills and Perry, never gave Van Gundy strong consideration before hiring Fizdale.
On Thibodeau, Carmelo Anthony said publicly that the Knicks should have considered hiring him in the 2016 offseason. Anthony's agent at the time was Rose. Then-Knicks president Phil Jackson didn't contact Thibodeau, who eventually took a job as team president and head coach with Minnesota.
But for those into connecting the dots, it would stand to reason that Anthony and Rose were on the same page regarding Thibodeau's candidacy for the Knicks job.
Given that, it would be surprising if the Knicks, under Rose, didn't give Van Gundy and Thibodeau consideration for the head-coaching job time around. Regarding the reference O'Neil made to Wright's house being for sale, Philadelphia Business Journal reported that Wright's house is on the market but he and his family are looking to move closer to the Villanova campus.
Wright has had tremendous success at Villanova. But outside of Brad Stevens, you can't point to a ton of examples of NCAA coaches who have thrived in the NBA. Every coaching hire comes with risk -- and each coach and organization has its own unique set of circumstances.
But if the Knicks hired a coach from the college ranks, the move would come with an added layer of uncertainty due to the lack of success of NCAA coaches in the NBA.