David Blatt is reportedly flying in from overseas next week to interview for the Knicks job, representing a leading candidate because of his strong connection to team president Steve Mills.
Mills was teammates with Blatt at Princeton 40 years ago and tried to convince Phil Jackson to hire him last year. Mills already brought in another one of his Princeton teammates to run New York’s player development – Craig Robinson – and, according to a Garden source, still would like to bring Blatt to the Knicks’ sideline.
That doesn’t mean Blatt will be hired, however. It’s hard to imagine GM Scott Perry is as bullish, and Blatt’s short stint in Cleveland left the impression he doesn’t connect well with NBA players. One of the stated priorities in a new coach, according to Perry, is “a very skilled communicator, a guy who can connect very well with his players.”
That doesn’t sound like Blatt, a legend in Europe — and considered an innovative basketball mind — who was fired in Cleveland because he butted heads with LeBron James. If Blatt is the next Knicks coach, it’ll be entirely on Mills. And it’s not an easy sell to the fan base.
ESPN reported on Blatt’s scheduled meeting, which will follow interviews with David Fizdale, Mark Jackson and Jerry Stackhouse. They’re all leading candidates.
A source confirmed that the Knicks received permission to interview a familiar name — Clippers assistant Mike Woodson — who hasn’t been a head coach since being fired by Jackson four years ago. Woodson is the only Knicks’ winning coach since Jeff Van Gundy and is liked by owner James Dolan. Still, ESPN reported that Woodson “isn’t considered to be in the top tier of initial candidates.”
Blatt is on that list because Mills wants him there.
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