Opening tip: Pick your Knicks coach

With the Knicks in full free-fall mode, there’s really only a couple questions left that really matter concerning the franchise.

The first is Carmelo Anthony's future. What will he do this summer?

The second is what will the Knicks do to convince Anthony to stay? Specifically, what is the Knicks’ plan moving forward?

One component tied to both of those issues is who will coach the Knicks next season. Mike Woodson’s tenure as coach might not survive past this season. If that’s the case, the next hire will be an important one, especially since that coach could be key to keeping Melo around and starting a new rebuilding phase.

Our Ian O’Connor wrote about who should be the Knicks’ next coach, and he has a shortlist for Jim Dolan to consider. Here are O’Connor’s five candidates with my take:

Jeff Van Gundy -- I am a JVG fan. I, along with many others, believe he is a guy who can get the Knicks refocused. He knows how to handle the New York media. And my guess is if the Knicks were to ever have a shot at bringing him back, he wouldn’t come back unless things could be done as close as possible to his way. He would need control under Dolan.

I would be surprised if everything aligned itself for a JVG return, but no coach has given more to the Knicks than Van Gundy. Van Gundy not only clocked countless hours of film study and practice, but he had his beloved Honda Civic thrown into the air and totaled by the team charter jet (look it up) and showed a complete disregard for his body whenever a fight broke out. Remember him clinging to Alonzo Mourning's calf? And JVG actually shed his own blood on the court for the Knicks as Marcus Camby can recount. Oh, and he did take the Knicks to the Finals.

Tom Thibodeau -- I am also a big Thibs fan, having been around the Knicks from 1997-2001, when Thibs was a young and ultra hard-working assistant under Van Gundy.

It’s arguable that Thibodeau is a top-five coach in the NBA right now, and you could make an argument for him being Coach of the Year. It doesn’t matter whether he loses Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, all Thibs does is win.

His team plays harder than almost every other team with so little. It would be a coup if the Knicks were to somehow get him, since he still is under contract with the Bulls. He would change the culture and have the Knicks playing the defense of the Riley-Van Gundy days.

The Bulls would have to have a serious divorce with Thibodeau for him to come to New York, because the Knicks don’t seem to have the assets to get Thibs. Also, if somehow Thibs were to become available, I wonder if he could deal with Dolan. Remember, Thibodeau is all business. He wants and deserves the freedom to coach his team without any meddling. Dolan has every right to run his team any way he sees fit. But if he has any chance to get JVG or Thibs, Dolan would have to give them a certain amount of freedom to do things their way.

John Calipari -- This is a scenario which I and many others can see happening. Sure, Cal has his college kingdom in Kentucky, where he can annually bring in five McDonald’s All-Americans and contend every year. But the pressure in Kentucky is insane, and Cal and Kentucky could want to part ways if this season doesn’t go as planned. Cal has always longed to return to the pros after things didn’t work out with the Nets. He is also represented by CAA, which exerts a good amount of influence on the Knicks.

Don’t discount this from happening if the Knicks eventually find themselves in the market for a new coach. Calipari will be better equipped for the NBA this time around. I’m just not sure he will be a good match with the Knicks.

Mark Jackson -- Speaking of matches, Jackson would be a good fit with the Knicks. Like Thibodeau, he would also have to become available since Jackson is under contract with the Warriors. But Jackson has the toughness needed to coach in New York. He is a native New Yorker, and he certainly knows how to deal with the New York media. And, perhaps most important, Knicks management seems to hold him in good light since the organization recently recognized him during a timeout for his service as a Knick when the Warriors were in town. Jackson also would likely want the job and all that comes with it if he were to leave the Bay.

Billy Donovan -- The Florida coach has the No. 1 college team and could be looking at another title with the Gators. If he were to win a third national title, Donovan would pretty much have accomplished all there is to do at Florida. Donovan grew up in Long Island and once played for the Knicks. It wouldn’t hurt for the Knicks to see if they could lure Donovan to the Garden. Calipari might be the more likely college candidate, if the Knicks end up looking for a new coach, but Donovan should be on a shortlist if that’s the case.

Question of the day: Who do you want to coach the Knicks if Woodson is gone after this season?

Up now: J.R. Smith’s brother, Chris, is in the spotlight again after being released by the Knicks' D-league affiliate.

JVG breaks down what is wrong with the Knicks and points out the main culprit.

Woodson believes Raymond Felton’s legal problems are a distraction -- to Felton.

What’s next: The Knicks get a close-up look at Kevin Love in Minnesota at 8 p.m.