The Knicks have reached out to many agents as they attempt to fill their coaching vacancy, including the representatives for Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, David Fizdale and Jerry Stackhouse, a league source confirmed Saturday.
Fizdale attended Golden State Warriors practice Friday and told reporters that he will be meeting with the Knicks and Suns about their coaching openings.
The Knicks fired Jeff Hornacek on Thursday after he went 60-104 in two seasons. Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry said they are looking for someone who can relate to players, has strong defensive principles and will hold players accountable. Other potential candidates include Jay Wright, Monty Williams, David Blatt, Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd.
The surprising name on the list of candidates is Van Gundy, the former Knicks coach turned broadcaster. His brother Stan recently said Jeff is open to a return to coaching. He enjoyed successful stints with the Knicks and Rockets and definitely would bring a proven defensive approach.
Van Gundy went 248-172 in parts of seven seasons as Knicks coach and guided them to six playoff appearances.
Jackson, a Brooklyn native and former Knicks point guard, has been prominently mentioned in connection with the Knicks for months. He coached the Warriors for three seasons, leading them to the postseason twice. It’s known that he wants to get back into coaching and would love to coach at home.
During the broadcast of Saturday’s Warriors-Spurs playoff game, the camera showed Fizdale in attendance. As play-by-play man Mike Breen mentioned that Fizdale would be a candidate for coaching openings, Jackson twice cleared his throat.
Said Mills, “We talked to people in the NFL, we talked to people in Major League Baseball, we talked to other NBA executives about coaching searches, what they think good culture and chemistry as a team is. It has to be someone that understands today’s player, and today’s player is very different than yesterday’s player.
“You have to be a person that understands who these guys are, where they come from, what their basketball journey is, understand the complexity of today’s NBA game, from an analytics standpoint, from a physical development standpoint, from a player development standpoint. A good coach is willing to embrace all those things.”
Fizdale went 50-51 in a little more than a year as the Grizzlies’ coach. He guided them to a 43-39 record and playoff berth last season but clashed with Marc Gasol this season and was let go after 19 games. But Fizdale is well-respected and liked by players around the league.
Fizdale spent eight seasons with the Heat as an assistant or associate coach and was there during Miami’s recent four-year Finals run. Heat guard Dwyane Wade spoke highly of him when Miami was in town toward the end of the season.
“He’s a phenomenal coach,” Wade said, noting that Fizdale was heavily involved in player development. “He has a great offensive mind, but he has defensive principles with the Miami Heat [that] Pat Riley has instilled in every coach that’s come here. He’s a good manager of personalities as well.
“The sky’s the limit for whatever organization is going to get him and give him an opportunity to really put his fingerprints on an opportunity for a long time. One thing about the coaches in Miami: They all go up the ranks, they all do everything before they become a head coach. He can break down film as well.”
Stackhouse played in Detroit and has ties with Perry, who was an executive with the Pistons. Stackhouse spent one season as a Raptors assistant coach and the past two coaching their G League team. They reached the championship round both years.