It seems that everyone has an opinion about who the next Knicks coach should be. Few opinions, however, should carry as much weight as the one that could be delivered Saturday when Kristaps Porzingis meets with Knicks management.
Unlike last year, when he skipped out on his meeting with then-team president Phil Jackson, Porzingis is expected to attend this year’s exit interview. Even though he is injured and not expected back until next calendar year, the power forward is the team’s biggest star and the guy the Knicks plan to build around.
Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry were asked in their news conference Thursday if Porzingis will have a say in who replaces Jeff Hornacek as the coach.
“One of the first things we did last night [after firing Hornacek] was reach out to all our players,” Perry said. “We were inclusive in that way. As we progress, we will stay in touch with a number of our players. At the end of the day, it’s our job to find the very fit for this basketball team. That’s what we were hired to do. We have great confidence in that.’’
Added Mills: “Scott and I . . . always should have a pretty good sense about what our players feel and what we think they need.”
In other words, Mills and Perry will listen to the players, but the decision ultimately will be theirs. It does seem, judging from a few things that were said on Thursday, that Mills and Perry want someone known as a player’s coach.
“Today’s players are very different from yesterday’s players,” Mills said. “So you have to be a person that understands who these guys are, where they come from, what their basketball journey is.”
With the firing of Hornets coach Steve Clifford on Friday, the list of possible candidates to replace Hornacek continues to grow. He could join a list that already includes Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, Doc Rivers, David Blatt, Chauncey Billups, Monty Williams, Jason Kidd and Jay Wright.
Six teams are looking for new coaches, as Charlotte joins the Knicks, Orlando, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Memphis.