The New York Knicks concluded their interviews of possible head-coaching candidates, 11 in total, this week. With a decision possibly coming within the next week, it was believed that former Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer and former Cleveland Cavaliers boss David Blatt were the favorites for the position.
Both hold a wealth of experience when it comes to coaching as Budenholzer spent 17 years as an assistant to Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs before a five-year stint with the Hawks. Blatt coached the Cavaliers for one-plus seasons but is one of the most decorated head coaches in Europe.
There looks to be a third option entering the fray though and it’s a very familiar face to Knicks fans.
According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, Mark Jackson “has received a strong behind-the-scenes push from Rich Kleiman,” which is a name that not many basketball fans might recognize.
Kleiman, a Knicks fan, is Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant’s business partner and, according to Stein, very good friends with Jackson and Knicks president Steve Mills.
Jackson spent three seasons as Warriors head coach well before Durant’s arrival to Golden State from Oklahoma City. While he helped build the organization into the juggernaut it is today, there have been complaints that Jackson had spats with front-office members that led to his dismissal.
Those attitude issues could be a reason why he hasn’t been able to get a job outside the television analyst’s chair for the last four years.
But Jackson has close ties to the Knicks, the St. John’s alum being drafted by the organization in 1987 with the 18th-overall selection. He spent parts of seven seasons over two separate stints with the team.
While he doesn’t have the coaching resume of Blatt and Budenholzer, he could become a heavy favorite if Kleiman could somehow get Durant to consider coming to the Knicks. However, it’s already been reported that Durant will opt out of his contract at the end of the year to re-sign with the Warriors over the summer.