Add Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer to the list of candidates the Knicks will interview for their vacancy.
A league source confirmed that the Knicks requested and received permission from the Hawks to talk to Budenholzer, who is under contract with Atlanta for two more years.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Budenholzer will meet with Knicks officials this weekend. The paper also said Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk hasn’t ruled out the possibility that Budenholzer will return to the Hawks. It appears, however, that the two sides are ready to move on from each other.
Budenholzer interviewed with Suns ownership and executives this week about their coaching job, but he reportedly withdrew his name from consideration.
The 2015 NBA Coach of the Year, Budenholzer has gone 213-197 in five seasons with Atlanta. He comes from a strong culture, having worked as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio for 17 years before getting the Hawks’ job.
One of Popovich’s current assistants, James Borrego, also will interview for the Knicks’ job, according to ESPN.
The Knicks promised “a very open” coaching search to find Jeff Hornacek’s replacement. Budenholzer and Borrego represent at least the seventh and eighth candidates they already have interviewed or will interview.
The Knicks have met with Jerry Stackhouse, Mark Jackson, Mike Woodson and Kenny Smith this week. They were expected to interview David Fizdale at some point and have lined up an interview with David Blatt next week.
Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry said they’re looking for someone with a strong defensive background who can relate well to the players and will hold them accountable.
Budenholzer coached Tim Hardaway Jr. for two years before he returned to the Knicks for the 2017-18 season, and Budenholzer demanded that he play defense to earn his minutes.
The Knicks could open up their search further. Perry said there is no timetable on when they will name a new coach.
Blatt, who coached in Turkey this season, confirmed to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he will be interviewing with the Knicks. The former Cavaliers coach has a relationship with Mills; the two played together at Princeton and remain friends.
“I’m scheduled to talk with the New York Knicks, yes,” Blatt said. “I can’t tell you where and when exactly, but it will in fact happen.”
If the Knicks hire a less experienced head coach such as Stackhouse or Fizdale, they could look to Woodson or Blatt to be a lead assistant.
The Knicks are competing with the Suns, Magic and Hornets for some of these candidates, particularly Fizdale and Stackhouse, who are drawing interest from numerous teams.