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Knicks NBA head coach search: Jay Wright, David Blatt, Mark Jackson

The Knicks relieved Jeff Hornacek of his head coaching duties early Thursday morning.
Jay Wright. (Photo: Getty Images)

The New York Knicks didn't waste much time doing the expected as they fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after two seasons following their 2017-18 finale Wednesday night. 

Over two seasons, Hornacek compiled a 60-104 record while attempting to lead a roster and franchise that was in the throes of an overhaul, including the introduction of a new front office after Phil Jackson was dismissed last summer.

Hornacek's departure now allows team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry, who came prior to the start of the season, to bring in their guy and start seriously building the team in their image. 

Granted, the track record of success over the past 20 years does anything but ensure that this will be a smooth transition, but the Knicks are now searching a head coaching market that has a number of promising candidates to come in and help change the culture of the franchise. 

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While this is a team that hasn't made the postseason in the past five years, recorded sub-.500 records in 14 of the past 17 years and needs a serious injection of talent to support Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks provide a prospective head coach with the opportunity of taking one of the most high-profile jobs in the NBA and the promise of being the one to fix a franchise that has been broken since the start of the new millennium. 

Here are some of the early favorites for the Knicks job:

Jay Wright

The collegiate head coach is coming off winning his second national championship with Villanova, the Philadelphia school he's built into a national power over the past 17 years.

Wright has some New York connections as well as he got his head coaching start at Hofstra University on Long Island, leading the mid-major program to a pair of America East titles and NCAA Tournament appearances in seven years. 

It looks as though the Knicks are very interested in the 57-year-old, a source telling the New York Daily News that they plan on reaching out to him with some in the organization believing he is the "perfect candidate for a rebuilding club."

Though a person close to Wright told the Daily News that it would take a lot for him to leave. 

 

Mark Jackson

Jackson hasn't coached since 2014 when he was axed by the Golden State Warriors, a team he helped build into the juggernaut they are today. While he's spent his time working as an analyst, rumors of him clashing with management in Oakland seems to be a reason why he hasn't been able to secure another head coaching job in the NBA. 

Mills and Perry might want to provide Jackson with a homecoming, the St. John's alumnus having been drafted by the Knicks in 1987. He spent six-plus seasons with the team during his 17-year career and is held in high regards by most Knicks fans. 

 

David Blatt

At the hands of LeBron James, Blatt was unceremoniously and surprisingly fired halfway through his second year as Cleveland Cavaliers head coach. While the move worked out just fine for the Cavs as they went on to win their first-ever title under Ty Lue, Blatt all but vanished as he went to Turkey to coach. 

He interviewed for the Knicks job in 2016 and Mills is supposedly high on him. He has a reason to be considering Blatt is 83-40 as an NBA head coach. 

 

David Fizdale

If the Knicks are looking for a player's coach, then Fizdale might just be that given his reputation as someone who builds strong relationships with most of his players. The long-time assistant experienced some success in his only head-coaching gig with the Memphis Grizzlies, leading what is now one of the worst teams in the league to the playoffs last season. 

Regardless, he was shown the door just 19 games into the 2017-18 campaign because of a feud with star big man Marc Gasol. He was quickly snapped up by the Miami Heat as an assistant, simply a placeholder as he'll receive plenty of interest this offseason. 

 

Doc Rivers

There is no guarantee that Rivers will be available for hiring, but there have been rumblings that he will be out as Los Angeles Clippers head coach despite almost leading them to the postseason after Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were dealt. 

Rivers and the Knicks have been linked in rumors for the past few weeks now and would bring the strongest NBA resume out of the candidates. After playing parts of three seasons for the Knicks, Rivers went on to become one of the most successful head coaches of this generation, making the postseason 14 times in 19 years with the Orland Magic, Boston Celtics and Clippers. He won his only title with Boston 2008 and took the Eastern Conference crown again in 2010.