Knicks' Lin walks up-court during game against Kings in New York's Madison Square Garden

Who should Knicks get as coach? First pick a system, stick to it.


I don’t know what the Knicks are going to do next because I’d have an easier time guessing what the Kardashian sisters are thinking than reading James Dolan’s mind.

In the wake of Mike D’Antoni’s sudden firing/resignation/whatever Wednesday there are a lot questions about what is next and who will be the Knicks coach next season — Phil Jackson, John Calipari, Jeff Van Gundy, Jerry Sloan (and we’ll get to them, keep reading).

But honestly, that is not the first question that needs to be answered. The coaching choice flows out of another bigger question:

What kind of team do the Knicks want to be?

Their current roster doesn’t fit any one system very well. It certainly does not mesh with Mike D’Antoni’s “seven seconds or less” but it really doesn’t fit a defense first style, the triangle or even a lot of traditional offensive sets. Jeremy Lin, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire are pick-and-roll guys (and Stoudemire seems to be in some decide this season). Carmelo Anthony wants to get the ball elbow extended and face up for an isolation. J.R. Smith wants to shoot any time he’s inside half court. It doesn’t blend.

The Knicks need to decide who they want to be, then pick a coach that fits that style and start tweaking the roster to match. There is not one style that can win a title in the NBA, but to have a shot at that ring an organization needs to be committed to whatever style they choose from the ownership down to the kids with round Swiffer thing that wipes the sweat off the floor. The GM has to get role players that fit the system. The coach has to believe in the system and get the players to believe.

Right now the Knicks are a collection of odd-fitting pieces. New York has talent and can mold the roster to win, but they need to pick a system and stick with it.

As for the coaches, well that ties into the systems.

• Phil Jackson will be the first choice but I would be stunned if he took the job. He’ll be tempted — he has a great affinity for New York and the Knicks — but I watched him up close the last few years and my impression is he is done as a coach. He’s had both hips replaced, he’s had knee surgery after his retirement. He doesn’t want the travel, the grind of it any more. No amount of money will change that (he’s loaded already). His legacy is he already more championship rings than any coach ever. He’ll look at the hot mess that is the Knicks, compare that to the life of semi-retirement he enjoys, and say no thank you.

Besides, this roster does not work for the triangle at all. The point guard excels at pick and rolls but little else, the center is not a great passer, Stoudemire is a pick-and-roll guy and Anthony makes the ball stop in the offense more than Kobe Bryant. Yes, Anthony can pass and hit the elbow jumper when he wants to — but will he really do that or would he break the sets like he did with D’Antoni so often.

• Jeff Van Gundy’s name will come up, but you can’t go home again. Plus, do you really think he wants to try and get this group to play defense every night? Woodson (and D’Antoni) got about the most out of this roster on that end as can be expected.

• John Calipari would be interesting. Some teams in the NBA run bits of his motion offense but certainly not to the extent Kentucky does. Player relations has always been a strength of Calipari, who is a better game coach than he gets credit for — but that doesn’t make him great at it. Bottom line — you can’t just recruit world-beating talent in the NBA (well, unless you are Pat Riley), you have to coach. Can Calipari do that? Right now Calipari is denying everything, trying to focus on the NCAA Tournament with Kentucky.

• Jerry Sloan is reportedly interested. The former Jazz head coach is a my-way-or-the-highway, old-school hard-a**. Knicks fans should not want this to happen. New York tabloid headline writers are praying this does happen.

Andre Iguodala’s flopping game is in midseason form (VIDEO)

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The Golden State Warriors “superteam” is clearly still a work in progress, it’s going to take them some time this season to iron out the kinks. Most of which were on the defensive side of the ball.

But Andre Iguodala‘s flopping game is in mid-season form.

Kawhi Leonard came off a screen and reaching out his hand grazed the… um, midsection of Iguodala. There was light contact. But it’s the delayed reaction sending him into the first row that could earn Iguodala an Oscar.

If the league deems that a flop, Andre Iguodala will get a warning from the league. If he gets a second one over the course of the season, that will cost him $5,000. Iguodala is making $11.1 million this season.

It’s time: Russell Westbrook looks to fill void after Durant’s exit

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4), head coach Billy Donovan, guard Russell Westbrook (0) and center Steven Adams pose for a photo during the 2016-2017 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — There were few indications before August that Russell Westbrook would be so willing to be the hero downtrodden Thunder fans needed.

For years, the sometimes combustible Westbrook toiled in Kevin Durant‘s shadow. He often was viewed as the talented, selfish player who was as likely to get in Durant’s way as he was to make a winning play. His flashy style seemed at odds with small-market Oklahoma City so when Durant, who seemingly was a better fit in OKC, left for rival Golden State, fear that Westbrook would bolt for a larger market increased.

He didn’t. He chose to re-sign with the Thunder and now that he has answered the call, it’s time to deliver.

“We know a few things about Russell at this point,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “He’s going to bring his lunch pail every day. He’s going to compete. He’s going to inspire. He’s going to show great conviction and courage to his teammates, to the city, to the organization. And from there, we have to figure out how that comes together.”

That trek begins Wednesday in Philadelphia when Oklahoma City officially tips off the post-Durant era in its season opener against the 76ers.

Westbrook is now the unquestioned leader of the Thunder and player folks behind the scenes knew – the thoughtful, humble, giving man – has more readily come to the surface. He has gone to great lengths to connect with Thunder fans in recent months.

Among other things, he unveiled his new line of True Religion clothing near downtown Oklahoma City and he attended an Oklahoma home football game against Louisiana-Monroe wearing a custom-made Sooners jersey. When he was introduced to the crowd before the Thunder’s preseason home opener, he got the kinds of cheers normally reserved for a return from injury.

Westbrook seems more at ease on the court, too. His preseason play seemed more effortless than electric, with an occasional flourish.

“I want the team to play how they want to play,” Westbrook said. “I mean, it’s not totally up to me how we play. You have to adjust to the team you have and adjust on a night-in, night-out basis on how you want to play. You want to play fast some nights and you want to play slow. I think it depends on the game, on the situation, who is on the floor.”

He is poised to put up astronomical numbers this season as he tries to keep the Thunder among the NBA elite.

Last season Westbrook averaged 23.5 points and career highs of 10.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds. He posted 18 triple-doubles, the most for a player since Magic Johnson had 18 during the 1981-82 season. The two-time All-Star MVP and former scoring champion could do more damage without Durant, but the Thunder don’t want too much pressure on him.

“I think we have to be able to play in a way that’s not just relying on him to do everything and create every single shot, whether it’s him making the shot or making the play for another guy,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said.

Westbrook already has left an impression on his new backcourt mate Victor Oladipo, who was acquired in the trade that sent defensive enforcer Serge Ibaka to Orlando.

“After working with Russ, I can see the intensity in how serious he was about his craft,” Oladipo said. “But one thing that I realized that after guarding him for three years – I can see why he’s so effective at what he does. I definitely stole that from him, and I’m going to take it and run as fast as I can with it.”

How Oladipo and the rest of the Thunder do in keeping up with Russell will determine how much success the team will have. Oklahoma City is no longer considered the team to beat in championship conversations, and that’s fine with Westbrook. He said the team embraces the underdog role.

“I love it,” he said. “I love it, man. I think it’s a great challenge, not just for myself, but for our whole team. I think just from talking to the guys throughout the summer, they understand that. They want to win. They want to get better.”

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter (at)CliffBruntAP .

Memphis’ Chandler Parsons says he’s playing 5-on-5, hopes to be on court soon

Memphis Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons poses for a picture on NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. Parsons signed with the Grizzlies in July. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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When the Memphis Grizzlies get their full starting five on the court, that lineup is going to be a handful.

But the Grizzlies enter their opener Wednesday night likely without Tony Allen and certainly without Chandler Parsons.

Parsons is being brought along slowly following his latest knee surgery, but in an update on the team’s Twitter account notes he is now playing 5-on-5 and hopes to be on the court “soon.”

Parsons also says he hasn’t lost a step. We may need to see that before we fully buy in.

Memphis needs him — and Allen — on the court as soon as possible. While their starting five can be a force, there is not a lot of depth on the Grizzlies’ roster. Plus Parsons provides the floor-spacing shooting and second shot creator the Grizzlies desperately need.

Charles Barkley: Klay Thompson is a better player than Kevin Durant


You know the NBA season is back when Charles Barkley is just talking out his… er, saying ridiculous things.

On Inside the NBA before the tip off of San Antonio thrashing Golden State, Barkley said then tried to defend the idea that Klay Thompson is a better all-around player than Kevin Durant. It was vintage Barkley — and it’s what makes the barbershop feel of Inside the NBA must-watch television every week.

The flaw in Barkley’s argument is that he tries to use the “two-way player” argument to try and balance out Durant’s and Thompson’s offensive contributions. Is Thompson a better defender than Durant? Yes. Even though people underestimate Durant’s defense a little, I will stipulate Thompson is a better defender. But does that defense make up for how much more offensive versatility and shot creation Durant brings to the table compared to Thompson? No. Again, Thompson is an excellent offensive player and probably the second best shooter in the game, but he does not create shots or force a defense to adjust the way Durant does. KD’s amazing offense tips the scales more than Thompson’s defense. KD is the better overall player.

And The Jet is way too quick to dismiss Kawhi Leonard as maybe the second best player in the league. But Leonard made his case just after these comments.