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.

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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.

GM David Griffin: Cavaliers have made J.R. Smith ‘incredibly competitive and aggressive offer’

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 22:  J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers acknowledges the crowd during the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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We’ve now reached the “negotiate through the media” stage of J.R. Smith‘s free agency.

Everyone expects Smith to re-sign with the Cavaliers, but training camp opened without a deal. Reportedly, discussions are somewhere between $10 million and $15 million annually with contract length a roadblock.

Cavs general manager David Griffin, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

“As we have stated and coach has previously stated, we think very highly of J.R. and we love him as a member of our team, as a member of our locker room,” General Manager David Griffin said. “He was essential to our success and for that reason we have made an incredibly competitive and aggressive offer in re-signing him.”

I bet Smith’s agent, Rich Paul, would say his contract demands are perfectly reasonable, too.

The Cavaliers want to maximize chemistry as the they defend their title, and that means getting Smith signed as quickly as possible. But they also want to avoid paying Smith a large salary – and taking a big luxury-tax hit – as he declines into his 30s.

Something will eventually give, but first, Griffin is telling the world ending the stalemate is in Smith’s court – though not revealing the exact offer(s) to be judged publicly. We’ll see how Smith and Paul respond.

Report: Derrick Rose more concerned about rape allegation than he’s publicly revealing

FILE - In this June 24, 2016, file photo, New York Knicks' Derrick Rose speaks during a news conference at Madison Square Garden in New York. Phil Jackson made a risky move when he traded for the injury-prone Rose in June, and now the Knicks face the possibility of their point guard's involvement in a rape trial in California during his first preseason with the team.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
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Phil Jackson said the Knicks aren’t concerned about the civil and potentially criminal rape allegations Derrick Rose is facing. Rose doesn’t sound concerned, either.

But is Rose just putting on a front?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

For now, the Knicks wait – and hope. Hope that the civil suit is resolved quickly. Hope that Rose – who has been troubled by the uncertainty of his legal entanglements more than he is letting on, sources familiar with Rose told The Vertical – is able to block out the distractions and build on the progress he made last season.

Rose should be concerned. Whatever happened that night, the specter of criminal prosecution and/or civil judgment against him are daunting outcomes. He can try to put that aside and focus on basketball, but this is a major event in his life.

Jimmy Butler still begging Fred Hoiberg to coach him harder

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 20: Head coach Fred Hoiberg of the Chicago Bulls talks with Jimmy Butler during a game against the Golden State Warriors
at the United Center on January 20, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Bulls reportedly has chemistry issues last season stemming from the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg relationship. Butler’s most public critique of Hoiberg came in December, when the wing said, “We probably have to be coached a lot harder at times.”

A reasonable criticism for the mild-mannered Hoiberg? Perhaps, especially for a team that responded so well to the hard-driving Tom Thibodeau for the better part of five years.

The best delivery? Probably not, considering Hoiberg was still trying to find his way in his first NBA season.

But Butler hasn’t changed his message.

Butler, via CSN Chicago:

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example. I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing.’,” Butler said. “Because if Doug or Tony or whoever it may be is watching coach talk to me like that, it’s going to be like, ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that, I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ That’s what I try to remind him every day. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else. I want that. I need that.”

Tim Duncan was celebrated for years for taking the brunt of Gregg Popovich’s criticism in San Antonio, setting an example for younger Spurs. So much of what Butler has done lately has been spun into a negative, but it seems he’s really trying to sacrifice his pride to help teammates like Doug McDermott and Tony Snell.

If Hoiberg goes along, this could quiet complaints about Butler’s leadership and preferential treatment.

With Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in New York, the Bulls are Butler’s team now. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have said as much.

It seems Butler is doing what he can to lead the Bulls – his way. The question: Does Hoiberg also think that’s the best way?

Jeremy Lin: My race made Linsanity bigger

Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks
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Jeremy Lin might want to move past Linsanity, but  he’ll always be linked to that period in 2012. It was so enthralling for numerous reasons, including:

  • Lin played unsustainably great basketball, leading the Knicks to a 7-1 record while starting with Carmelo Anthony injured and averaging 25.0 points and 9.5 assists per game in that span.
  • Lin was excelling in New York, America’s biggest media market.
  • The Knicks were desperate for success, having not won a single playoff game in the last decade.
  • Lin was undrafted and relatively unknown before breaking out.
  • Lin played at Harvard, which is universally known for academics and barely known for basketball.
  • Lin is Asian-American, a rarity in high-level basketball.

Yes, that last factor mattered.

Lin, via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:

“In some ways, Linsanity wouldn’t have been Linsanity if I was a different skin color, most likely, it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal, and that went to my advantage, too, but if you look prior to that, a lot of the obstacles to even get to that point where I could get to a position of getting on the floor, those were definitely obstacles that were very much stereotypes that I had to fight along the way. So I’ve always understood that there’s good and there’s bad and you have to take them together and just be thankful for it all.”

Linsanity was a culmination of all the elements listed above. Maybe it would’ve happened without one or two, but THE essential factor was Lin’s on-court production. Without that, he never would’ve become a national phenomenon.

Lin’s heritage – he was born in California to Taiwanese-born parents – accentuated his basketball skills, but the basketball skills were the base for his popularity.

And as Lin said, his race was a double-edged sword. It made him less likely to get the benefit of the doubt when rising through the basketball ranks. I believe that coaches, scouts and other players were less inclined to believe in his basketball ability because of his race.

But Lin overcame that and eventually reaped the awards of being an outlier.

Lin has long seemed to possess a keen understanding of himself and a willingness to discuss it. I think he’s spot-on here, and it leads to a better understanding of one of the biggest NBA stories in recent years.