New York Knicks: Ettore Messina
The Knicks' offense was a seven out of 10 this past season. While they had an offensive rating of 111.1 during the regular season -- third-best in the NBA -- they averaged a league-worst 19.3 assists per game. That number plummeted in the playoffs (15.1), as did their scoring (88.6 points per game).
So how can the Knicks boost their offensive rating? They should consider hiring an offensive assistant coach for some new, creative schemes. Two veteran NBA scouts agreed.
"I'm not saying [Mike Woodson] has a bad staff, but he definitely needs to hire someone to run that part of the team and open the offense up," one said.
The other scout recommended Jason Kidd, who recently retired, for the job.
"He's a guy that always had a great feel for the game," the scout said. "He's also a tremendous defensive player as well in terms of understanding positioning and just knowing how to get to the ball, rebounding the ball."
Here are five other viable candidates, and ways each could help the Knicks:
Resume: Blatt is one of the most successful American coaches in Europe who now mans the sidelines for Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Strategy: Blatt runs a Princeton motion-like system, which is based on constant movement fueled by passing, backdoor cutting, interchanging positions and moving without the ball. There is no standing around, which the Knicks sometimes do watching Carmelo Anthony. The veteran Knicks could grasp the complex Princeton. J.R. Smith also needs more looks as a cutter.
Resume: Kuester was an assistant along with Woodson when the Pistons won the 2004 title. Most recently, Kuester was on the Lakers bench in 2011-12.
Strategy: Kuester implemented an "early offense" when he was the Cavaliers offensive coordinator from 2007-09, which enabled them to become a very efficient scoring team. The offense took advantage of LeBron James as a point forward (ahem, Anthony), in an effort to make the team more effective in transition. That needs to be the Knicks next season.
"He made sure the ball moved quite a bit and there was a lot of screen setting," one scout said.
Resume: Regarded as one of the top European coaches, Messina is now with CSKA Moscow. He was recently in consideration for the Hawks' head coaching vacancy.
Strategy: While Messina tends to favor slower, half-court play, he can coach a speedy offense as well. His specialty is working through the block, and he could help facilitate some Anthony and Stoudemire double-post plays. Messina could also improve Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler's play together when they're on the court with Anthony.
Resume: After Smart became Don Nelson's top assistant in Golden State, he took over as head coach and was most recently at the helm of the Kings.
Strategy: One scout, who knows Smart well, said, "He coaches uptempo basketball -- get the ball moving from one side to the other in transition. In the half court, he takes advantage of your individual strengths, looking at mismatches. He runs a lot of stuff off the pinch post. They also ran a lot of triangle last year, and that could help Melo, Amar'e and Tyson play together."
Resume: He worked for the Lakers in 2011-12, and he's now an assistant with CSKA Moscow.
Strategy: Snyder knows every variation of the pick-and-roll, which would help the Knicks avoid too much isolation. Snyder, in fact, co-authored a very detailed article on the P&R in 2009. He also released a coaching video on the motion offense, diagramming ball reversals, positioning fakes and ball/player movement.
"He's known for his offensive ingenuity and being able to relate to guys well," one scout said.
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