Kevin Durant, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith

Knicks hire assistant coach whom Kevin Durant adores


In addition to the previously known Jim Cleamons, the Knicks announced the hiring of three assistant coaches:

  • Rasheed Hazzard
  • Brian Keefe
  • Joshua Longstaff

Those names might not ring a bell, but Keefe – if the Knicks are taking a page out of the Wizards’ playbook – could be extremely valuable in 2016, when Kevin Durant becomes a free agent.

Keefe – who, like Longstaff, previously worked for the Thunder – became extremely close with Durant in Oklahoma City.

David Aldridge of shares a story of Durant being frustrated with the Thunder’s play last season:

Durant was mad at his teammates, mad at the coaches, mad at everybody.

Brian Keefe told him to get over himself.

"That was probably one of the most realest conversations I’ve had with a coach, ever," Durant recalled last week. "He let me know how bad I was — my body language, my attitude. I just decided to look at myself and self-evaluate. And he was right. I had to change how I was thinking, how I was acting toward my teammates. Everything."

Keefe, the assistant coach whose previous coaching experience came at South Florida and Division II Bryant University, can get in Kevin Durant’s face and say "not good enough."

And Durant listens.

Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks, via Aldridge:

"We both knew, early on, being around KD, he’s coachable," Brooks said Sunday. "We were able to help mold him. He was 19 years old and the canvas was wide open. He wanted to be better every day. Coach [Keefe] and KD, they grew together, and the growth started with what they started together. Kevin didn’t really know what the NBA was about but he saw the success he started having when he worked with him."

Keefe’s first two years with the Thunder were as a workout guy — Durant’s workout guy. But he became more.

"He spends every day with him and he lives and dies by every workout with him," Brooks said. "That’s what successful organizations do. They find self-motivated players that have high character and are great talents, like Kevin is, and they have organizations that help develop them."

So, it’s settled. Durant will leave the Thunder in 2016 to sign in New York. That’s the only reason the Knicks hired Keefe.

It has nothing to do with Knicks coach Derek Fisher playing for the Thunder the last few years and developing his own relationship with Keefe.

Looks like Donovan to keep Andre Roberson, Steven Adams as starters

Los Angeles Clippers v Oklahoma City Thunder
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Billy Donovan was given the head coaching job in Oklahoma City to bring their offense into modern times — and it seems to be working, Russell Westbrook said he feels a lot more space in the system.

But if the Thunder are going to contend for a title, they need a top 10 defense as well — and to do that Donovan is going to keep a Scott Brooks move and continue to start  Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Check out the starting lineup for their first preseason game Wednesday.

There also was this report via Anthony Slater in the Oklahoman yesterday about a scrimmage at practice.

Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson all started for the White team. Nick Collison joined them, but that was only because Steven Adams sat out with back soreness….

Donovan said the teams weren’t split by accident. That’s how they’ve been divided in practice. So at this point, it seems Roberson is this team’s starting shooting guard and Adams is the team’s starting center.

This is the smart move. Last season the lineup of Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams was +13.4 points per 100 possessions over their opponents. Roberson and Adams are there for defense — neither brings much offensive game to the floor, but when you have Westbrook and Durant and only one ball between them, you don’t need more offensive threats. You’re going to get plenty of points.

If they can just stay healthy, Oklahoma City is a team to be feared.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88

Harry Gallatin
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The Hall of Fame player behind the original iron man streak is with us no more.

Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88, the team confirmed Wednesday.

Gallatin led the Knicks of the late 1940s and into the 1950s, when he set a then record playing in 610 consecutive games. Nicknamed “The Horse,” he was a beast on the boards who averaged 15.3 rebounds a game one season and averaged 11.9 boards and 13 points per game over the course of his 10-year career. He’s still fourth all time in total rebounds in Knicks franchise history.

Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star and twice All-NBA selection. After his playing days, he spent many years as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.