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Juwan Howard becomes latest Knicks coaching candidate

Heat guard Dwyane Wade, right, and assistant coach

Heat guard Dwyane Wade, right, and assistant coach Juwan Howard on the bench against the Lakers on March 16, 2018, in Los Angeles. Credit: AP / Ringo H.W. Chiu

The Knicks have added another candidate to their wide-ranging coaching search.

Heat assistant Juwan Howard will interview for the Knicks’ head-coaching vacancy, a league source confirmed. ESPN first reported the interview and said it could happen this weekend.

When it happens, Howard will be the 10th person known to have met with the Knicks about the opening that was created when Jeff Hornacek was fired just over two weeks ago. The Knicks also are scheduled to sit down with Spurs assistant James Borrego this weekend.

Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry returned Friday from Europe, where they interviewed former Cavs coach David Blatt, who is coaching in Turkey. Blatt and Mills were college teammates at Princeton and remain friends.

Borrego and Howard have connections to Perry. Borrego was an assistant with the Magic when Perry was a team executive and spent 30 games as Orlando’s interim head coach in 2015 after Jacque Vaughn was fired. Borrego has worked under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio the past three years.

Howard played one season at the University of Michigan while Perry was an assistant coach. Howard has been a Heat assistant under Erik Spoelstra since 2013.

The Knicks also have interviewed Jerry Stackhouse, Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Mike Budenholzer, Mike Woodson, Kenny Smith and Jay Larranaga.

The New York Times reported that the Knicks have started doing extensive background checks on Budenholzer and Blatt.

Of the 10 candidates, only Woodson, Budenholzer and Jackson have coached at least three years in the NBA. Fizdale coached the Grizzlies for a year and a half. Stackhouse, Larranaga and Howard haven’t been head coaches in the NBA. Smith, a TNT analyst, has never coached.

Budenholzer’s availability was unexpected because he had two more years remaining on his contract with the Hawks. They mutually agreed to part ways Wednesday.

Budenholzer, who spent 17 seasons as an assistant under Popovich before becoming the Hawks’ coach, immediately became more intriguing after that occurred. The Knicks, or any team that hires him, will not have to give up draft picks for Budenholzer.

Blatt is a proven coach, especially in Europe. He spent a season and a half with the Cavaliers and helped them reach the NBA Finals. But he didn’t have strong relationships with his players, namely LeBron James.

Knicks officials said it would be “a very open” search and they would do their due diligence. They also said they were looking for a coach with strong defensive principles who can relate well to today’s NBA players and will hold them accountable.

If the Knicks choose to go with a less experienced coach, they could try to bring in Woodson or Blatt as a lead assistant or an associate head coach.

New York Sports