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3 Dark-Horse Coaching Candidates the Knicks Should Target

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:21 PM
Jack Winter
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:21 PM
  • The Knicks reportedly fired David Fizdale on Friday.
  • Before finding a full-time replacement, New York needs to clean house in the front office.
  • These three young coaching candidates could finally help the Knicks turn the page.

The New York Knicks confirmed the NBA’s worst-kept secret on Friday, reportedly dismissing coach David Fizdale  in the wake of yet another embarrassing defeat.

The untenable nature of Fizdale’s future with the Knicks became abundantly clear last month, when team executives laid blame for New York’s broad dysfunction at the feet of its head coach following a humiliating loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now comes the search for the Knicks’ sixth coach since 2014. And while familiar names like Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy, both team alums, are sure to highlight the list of eventual candidates, going with a younger, lesser-known coach could finally be what rids New York of the losing stench it’s been unable to eradicate for most of the last decade.

First Things First

Fizdale was a symptom of what’s plaguing the Knicks, not the ailment itself. As much flak as he deserves for failing to forge any semblance of an identity during his brief tenure, New York’s problems clearly stem from the top.

But unfortunately for Knicks fans, Dolan can’t be compelled to sell the team for gross incompetence. The next best step is cleaning house directly below him, and that means finding replacements for Steve Mills and Scott Perry – preferably sooner rather than later.

New York’s next front office honcho will have the ultimate say on the franchise’s 27th coach. Whether it’s Sam Hinkie, Masai Ujiri, or more likely, a far less in-demand choice, what’s clear is that the Knicks’ newest chief decision-maker must possess on and off-court vision befitting tenets of the modern NBA.

And these coaching prospects could be the one to help them implement it.

Pablo Prigioni

Prigioni’s coaching career is still in its infancy, but he’s already proven to be among the league’s brightest young assistants. The 42-year-old was hired by the Brooklyn Nets in April 2018 and spent last season under the tutelage of Kenny Atkinson.

But what makes him a viable candidate for New York is the work he’s done since joining the Minnesota Timberwolves in June. Serving as de facto offensive coordinator for Ryan Saunders, the youngest coach in the league, Prigioni helped install a modern-day offensive attack that prioritizes space, pace, and analytics.

Making his candidacy even more attractive? Prigioni is beloved among Knicks faithful for his three-season stint as a player in the mid-2010s, the last time New York tasted success.

Penny Hardaway

Dolan surely wouldn’t mind making a splash with his next coaching hire, and Hardaway’s name is among the hottest on the market.

Only in his second season as head coach at Memphis, his alma mater, the four-time All-Star could use certainly some more seasoning before taking the reins of an NBA team. But he’s well-respected in coaching circles, is a favorite among modern-day players, and could find himself sick of having to adhere to restrictive NCAA amateurism rules.

Hardaway has a history with the Knicks, too, though his time with the team in the mid-2000s was largely forgettable.

Metta World Peace

The man formerly known as Ron Artest has scant coaching experience. He was hired as a player-development specialist with the G-League’s South Bay Lakers in October 2017 but isn’t currently listed on the team’s staff directory. And though he played in the BIG3 the following year, World Peace’s playing career is clearly finished.

Does that make him qualified for the Knicks’ coaching vacancy? World Peace seems to think so.


World Peace, needless to say, would be among the most off-the-wall coaching hires of all time. But if Dolan wants the Garden rocking again, he could probably do worse than a New York City basketball legend who wants to bring “street mentality” back to the Knicks.