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Knicks president Leon Rose breaks down his search for a new coach

Knicks president Leon Rose looks on prior to

Knicks president Leon Rose looks on prior to a game against the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Mar. 2, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

With the addition of William Wesley in an official capacity Wednesday morning the Knicks front office is lined up to move on to the most pressing matter for the organization — hiring a head coach.

With 11 confirmed candidates for the job already beginning video interviews the Knicks are moving forward with the search and while the addition of Wesley as Executive Vice President — Senior Basketball Adviser has some sources close to candidates believing that this only has made the eventual hiring of Tom Thibodeau a fait accompli.

Thibodeau, who has had success in Chicago and Minnesota as a head coach already, has ties to Rose and Wesley and this move certainly doesn’t diminish his chances of being the choice. But Rose, who has yet to speak with the media since taking over in March as team president, did appear on "MSG 150 at Home" Wednesday night and insisted that he will conduct a thorough search process.

Right now in addition to interim head coach Mike Miller, the Knicks have lined up Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson, Mike Woodson, Jason Kidd, Mike Brown, Will Hardy, Ime Udoka, Chris Fleming, Pat Delaney and Jamahl Mosley for interviews.

“We’re setting it up in two phases,” Rose told MSG’s Mike Breen. “We’re having shorter meetings to break the ice with the various candidates.  And then we’re going to have full interviews with the candidates.  

“And Mike [Miller] is obviously one of those candidates. And we’re anticipating that we will go till mid-to-late July. And hopefully, by the end of July we’ll make a decision … whether that’s to keep Mike or go in a different direction.  But it’s very exciting.  There’s a lot of really great candidates. We’re looking at a lot of different people with a lot of different mindsets and philosophies. And I just need to make sure we go through this process and we dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’.”

The Knicks goal is to secure the new coach before the 22 teams resuming play begin games July 30, allowing them to make their choice before other jobs open up. This job isn’t the most attractive one likely to be available. There have been rumblings that the Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets could have openings with talent that makes them readymade contenders.

The Knicks are a team that was 21-45 when the season was cut short, have endured seven straight losing seasons, including having lost 65 games twice in the span. The roster could have massive turnover with eight potential free agents and just two players who can be pointed to as building blocks in RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.

“We want to find the right leader that can develop our young players, as well as hold everyone accountable, and take us from development to becoming a perennial winner,” Rose said. “We also want someone that we think will be collaborative with the front office and someone that when you’re in that huddle and you’re looking in that coach’s eyes, every player that is looking at him knows that person is driving the ship and is going to get the job done.”

While Rose has been silent since taking over, he insisted that he will work to make the franchise a winner after years of dysfunction and mounting losses.

“No one deserves a winner more than Knicks fans,” Rose said. “I know it’s been tough. But my pledge is that we are going to work tirelessly. We are going to do business. We are going to be prudent. We are going to be creative. And we are going to be in play in every aspect of the draft, trades and free agency. And we are going to build this the right way to build you a winner.”

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