Who will be the Knicks' next head coach?
March, 14, 2012
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
Mike D'Antoni's gone.
That will be the question surrounding the Knicks for the rest of this season and into the offseason.
Below, we present four candidates for the full-time job:
PHIL JACKSON: The Zen Master is currently retired, but many believe he will return to coaching next season if the right offer emerges. Can the Knicks bring him back to the bench? Jackson has won his championships with star players (Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal). And New York has star power in Carmelo Anthony and -- to a lesser degree -- Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. The key here is, does Jackson think he can win with this roster? If not, he probably won't take the job.
Odds that he is the next Knicks coach: moderate.
JOHN CALIPARI: Calipari has what he calls "the greatest job in basketball at any level" at Kentucky. But it could be tough for Calipari to resist the pull of New York. If Calipari wins a national title at Kentucky this season, you have to think he'd get the itch to rectify his reputation in the NBA. Calipari had a 72-112 record over three seasons in New Jersey. If he wants to make people forget about his Nets tenure and prove that he can win in the NBA, the Knicks will offer a great opportunity.
Odds that he is the next Knicks coach: strong.
JEFF VAN GUNDY: Van Gundy has shown that he can coach the aspect of the game many Knicks fans clamor for: defense. But because of ownership, many feel he won't get another shot in New York. Van Gundy coached in New York over parts of seven seasons and had a successful run, going 248-172 (the second-best winning percentage in Knicks history). But his exit was messy. He resigned and the team collapsed under Don Chaney. So there's strong sentiment out there that Garden management won't be willing to give him another shot.
Odds that he is the next Knicks coach: lukewarm, at best.
MIKE WOODSON: Don't count Woodson out. The Knicks are in a free-fall now, losers of six straight, and are now six games under .500. If Woodson can pull them out of it and lead them to a strong showing in the playoffs, then he should be considered as a permanent candidate. He's the brains behind the Knicks' turnaround on defense this season (they ranked 21st in defensive efficiency last season and rank 10th this year) and is well-respected in the locker room. If the Knicks can rebound from their current funk and make a run in the playoffs, don't count him out.
Odds that he is the next Knicks coach: depends on the next 24 games.
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