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Report: Knicks are Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer’s top choice for job

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Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer withdrew from the Suns coaching search, but that he was even involved with another opening while under contract with Atlanta is telling. It probably wasn’t about the Phoenix job being special. He’s also talking with the Knicks – and maybe that goes somewhere.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Mike Budenholzer is genuinely interested in the Knicks’ job, according to an NBA source who has spoken to the Hawks coach.

“New York’s his top choice,’’ the NBA source said. “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes. He wants to live in New York.’’

“Phoenix and the Knicks are trying to win every game,’’ said the NBA source who has spoken to Budenholzer recently. “There’s a good chance Atlanta is not looking to win games the next two years. This wasn’t Mike’s decision. He didn’t expect it. He doesn’t want to lose games.’’

Going to the Knicks to win? What a time to be alive.

But the Hawks are only one year into what appears to be a multi-year rebuild. Relative to that, New York is ahead.

When Kristaps Porzingis returns is the biggest variable. But Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke are all in their primes. Atlanta is much thinner.

The Knicks would probably also offer Budenholzer a raise and the Hawks compensation. Though dealing with James Dolan carries downside, this could be a financial boon to everyone else involved. It’s no wonder Budenholzer and the Hawks are both into this.

The big question is whether New York, which is casting a wide net, tabs Budenholzer. He doesn’t have a clear connection to Knicks president Steve Mills or general manager Scott Perry. But Budenholzer is a demonstrably good coach, and that ought to matter plenty.

Report: Knicks to discuss coaching vacancy with Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer

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Mike Budenholzer is restless in Atlanta, seeing a rebuild coming and looking at other jobs (something Hawks management is fine with). He went down the road a ways with the Suns before pulling out of that process, but he’s still looking around.

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their search, talking to virtually everyone looking for coaching jobs.

So, this seemed inevitable, right? Budenholzer and the Knicks are going to talk, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will be very preliminary. The Knicks have already had some level of conversation with Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, David Blatt, Mike Woodson, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (Jackson and Fizdale are the rumored early leaders). Budenholzer has established a style and culture in Atlanta, giving the franchise a path forward. New York could certainly use that.

However, the Knicks job comes with real challenges, too. That starts with James Dolan as owner and the erratic, at times paranoid culture he has created there. Also, expectations in New York are always high, but the team will be without Kristaps Porzigis for at least half (maybe all) of the upcoming season as he recovers from an ACL injury, and that puts a ceiling on the team in the short term. Is all that worth leaving Atlanta for?

 

James Harden, Kristaps Porzingis star in Kobe-written BodyArmor ads

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On the court, Kobe Bryant went right at whoever he wanted to attack, wherever he saw a weakness.

No shock, but when Kobe wrote a series of ads for BodyArmor — the sports drink in which he owns a stake of the company — he went right at the main competition: Gatorade.

James Harden and Kristaps Porzingis star in two of the ads — Mike Trout and Skylar Diggins-Smith also have spots — and the theme is them not using outdated dress or communications. It’s the tagline of the ads — “thanks Gatorade, we’ll take it from here” — that is pure Kobe on the attack.

Plus, they’re well done.

Stephen Curry, Warriors lead NBA in merchandise sales. Again.

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Fans still love them some Stephen Curry. And the Golden State Warriors. For the past two seasons, when it came to player jerseys sales, Curry has been on top of the list of players. His Warriors have been the top seller of team merchandise.

That did not change this past season.

The NBA released the Top 15 players in jersey sales this season, and some familiar names were at the top.

Top 15 Most Popular NBA Jerseys:
1. Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
2. LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
3. Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
4. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
5. Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)
6. Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
7. Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks)
8. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
9. James Harden (Houston Rockets)
10. Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
11. Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
12. Lonzo Ball (Los Angeles Lakers)
13. Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
14. Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
15. Jimmy Butler (Minnesota Timberwolves)

The top three remained the same as last year, but Antetokounmpo leapt up to fourth from ninth as his popularity continues to skyrocket. Irving moved up a spot with his move to Boston. Porzingis and Leonard remained in the top 10 despite injuries on the court limiting their play. Lonzo being above Lillard just seems wrong on a gut level, but that’s the world we live in.

As for team merchandise, which is now made by Nike:

Top 10 Most Popular Team Merchandise:
1. Golden State Warriors
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Los Angeles Lakers
5. Boston Celtics
6. Milwaukee Bucks
7. Oklahoma City Thunder
8. New York Knicks
9. Chicago Bulls
10. Houston Rockets

If LeBron is on the move again this summer, it will shake up the team rankings considerably.

Knicks interviewing every coaching candidate under the sun except Jeff Van Gundy

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Mark Jackson. David Fizdale. Jerry Stackhouse. David Blatt. Mike Woodson.

At this point, if the Knicks announced they were interviewing Kendrick Lamar for their head coaching vacancy, I’d believe it. (Then I’d wonder why he would take that pay cut.)

They seem to be interviewing everyone in their efforts to replace Jeff Hornacek… except Jeff Van Gundy. The former Knicks coach turned ABC/ESPN analyst is not on the list, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.

The New York Knicks have not shown any interest at this point in Jeff Van Gundy as a candidate for their head-coaching position, league sources told ESPN.

Van Gundy, a former Knicks coach and current NBA analyst for ESPN, would be open to talking about the position if he were approached by New York, league sources say. But league sources familiar with the matter say that despite contact between the team and Van Gundy’s representatives, there is no interest currently.

Maybe there is some residual tension in the organization around Van Gundy, maybe they want someone who has coached in the league more recently, maybe a lot of things. It’s the Knicks, trying to deduce their motives is like trying to divine meaning in abstract art — good luck.

What the Knicks need to consider near the top of the list: Which coach is going to have a good relationship with and get the most out of Kristaps Porzingis. Yes, Porzingis is going to miss at least a healthy chunk of next season coming off his torn ACL, but he’s the future and the next coach needs to maximize his development and put him in spots to succeed. The Knicks may want to do something crazy like even talk to Porzingis throughout the process, maybe even listen to what he has to say. Just an idea.