Leon Rose

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Mike Woodson reportedly has second coaching interview with Knicks

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Let’s start with the reality of the situation: Every source where the Knicks are mentioned, every bit of reporting on this topic, says the New York coaching job is Tom Thibodeau’s to lose. He is the runaway favorite.

But if it’s not him, is it Mike Woodson deja vu?

The Knicks have done their due diligence in this search — they interviewed 11 people — and that now includes bringing back former New York coach Mike Woodson for a second interview, reports Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

Friday was Woodson’s second interview with the club. Woodson and all other candidates had initial interviews with the Knicks last month or in the first week of July. The Knicks’ second-round interviews are expected to conclude in the coming days. It is unclear if any candidates will be asked to interview a third time.

New York plans to make a decision its next head coach before July 31, when the NBA resumes its regular season in Orlando.

Woodson is the last Knicks coach to win a playoff series (2013, if you’re keeping track) and had a 109-79 record in the job. David Fizdale — the coach the Knicks fired this season — wanted Woodson on his staff, but management shot it down, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.

It’s difficult to imagine Leon Rose‘s first big move as Knicks president would be to reach back in time and restart the Woodson era. That’s not moving the franchise forward.

But Woodson and the Knicks are talking.

Knicks’ coaching job frontrunner Tom Thibodeau interviews with team

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Tom Thibodeau has been considered the frontrunner for the Knicks coaching job since the day Leon Rose was hired as team president.

New York has done its due diligence talking to other candidates — Jason Kidd, Kenny Atkinson, Mike Woodson, Mike Brown, Ime Udoka, Will Hardy, Pat Delaney, Jamahl Mosley, Chris Fleming, and Knicks interim coach Mike Miller — but through it all Thibodeau remained the frontrunner, according to multiple sources around the league.

Thursday Thibodeau finally got his turn, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Thibodeau wants to return to NBA coaching and his decades-long friendship with Rose appears to give him an inside track.

The big question becomes, is Thibodeau the right fit? Which leads to a couple of other questions: What style of team are the Knicks trying to build? And, how do they intend to build it?

Thibodeau has shown previously to be a win-now coach who leans on veterans and a short rotation. If New York is looking to draft and develop a core of young players that can be a long-lasting foundation for winning in the future, it’s fair to ask if Thibodeau the best coach for that task. Thibodeau says he has grown and will bring a broader perspective to his next job.

The Knicks have a couple of players that could be part of a long-term rebuild, but also feel they are well positioned to trade for a star if one becomes available. As the Lakers did, the Knicks are looking to stockpile good young players, try to win with them, but if the right trade comes along — Anthony Davis for the Lakers — they will send the youth out the door. All of this sounds good, but to make it work, the new coach needs to build a player-development program in New York, something that has never been a strong suit for the franchise.

Whichever way the rebuild goes, and whoever gets the Knicks job, there is a lot of work to do to build a winner.

Rumor: Knicks could trade for Suns star Devin Booker

Suns guard Devin Booker vs. Knicks
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The Knicks’ reported plan of trading for a disgruntled star initially focused on Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. But now joined by D'Angelo Russell, Towns is more likely to stay in Minnesota. The Knicks are also expected to hire Tom Thibodeau, with whom Towns had differences.

So, New York needs a new pipe dream.

How about Devin Booker?

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

However, since Leon Rose was hired as president, the player to watch out for most is Suns combo guard Devin Booker, according to league sources.

This vague report sounds like fantasy.

Rose represented Booker before getting hired by the Knicks. But discussion of agents-turned-team executives landing their former clients far outpaces the reality of it actually happening.

With four more seasons left on his contract, Booker also has little leverage to choose his team. He could demand a trade from the Suns and make them feel compelled to move him. But the main way for players to pick their trade destination is refusing to re-sign with undesirable teams. Booker threatening to leave in 2024 wouldn’t scare off many teams any time soon. And plenty of other teams could offer more than the Knicks, whose top assets include their own first-rounders, two Mavericks first-rounders, R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox. The most valuable of those assets – New York’s own first-rounders – would become less valuable with a prime Booker.

Besides, would Booker really try to steer himself to New York? He has shown impatience in Phoenix, which has the NBA’s worst winning percentage (29%) since he entered the league and remains bad. But the team with the second-worst winning percentage in that span (33%)?

The Knicks.

Idea for LeBron James’ ‘Decision’ show started with question from fan

LeBron James Decision
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“The Decision” — a televised announcement about LeBron James‘s free-agent plans in 2010 — was an idea that sounded good to LeBron’s tight circle of advisors. They loved the idea, the drama. Other fans across America… not so much. It came off like as egotistical, felt like slap in the face to Cleveland and the other teams he didn’t choose, plus it just played poorly with casual fans everywhere. The event did raise money for charity but started a PR backlash against LeBron that took years for him to overcome.

Whose idea was “The Decision?” Not LeBron’s. Not his business partner Maverick Carter’s. Not Jim Gray’s. Not his agent Leon Rose or World Wide Wes. Not anyone in his inner circle.

The idea came from someone writing into then ESPN employee Bill Simmons’ mailbag column, something confirmed in an episode of “Backstory,” this one on The Decision, which first at 9 p.m.  Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. From a story on that show:

“What if LeBron announces he will pick his 2010-11 team live on ABC on a certain date for a show called ‘LeBron’s Choice?'” wrote Drew, with no last name published. “What type of crazy ratings would that get?”

Simmons replied, “If LeBron were smart, he would market the event through his company, sell the rights to a network and reveal his choice on that show … He could even make it pay-per-view … I’m pretty sure they’ll pony up for $44.99 for “Decision 2010: LeBron’s Verdict.”

The story goes on to tell how Simmons pitched the idea to LeBron’s camp at the 2010 All-Star Game in Dallas, it was a hit with that inner circle, and while it stalled for a while it picked up steam during the Finals. ESPN eventually wanted in. Organizers found a charity and thought that because the money raised (ultimately $2 million) went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America it would come off as a selfless event.

It did not.

The PR backlash only grew as LeBron and his new teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were the heart of pep rally’s in Miami — “not three, not four, not five…” — that played poorly outside South Beach.

That Heat team was the beginning of a wave of the players exercising their power and changing the NBA. Plus, that squad one a couple of rings with LeBron as the leader. Professionally, choosing Miami worked out for LeBron.

“The Decision” did not. It will be interesting to watch how that all came together.

Knicks hire William ‘Worldwide Wes’ Wesley as new VP, senior adviser

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William Wesley — better known to fans as “Worldwide Wes,” a man with incredible influence on players as a friend and father figure — has had a lot of influence within the Knicks organization over the years. Now, he is doing so officially.

The Knicks hired Wesley as their Executive Vice President – Senior Basketball Advisor. Wesley long has been new team president Leon Rose‘s right-hand man, but shortly after Rose was hired the Knicks shot down the idea Wesley would be following him into the front office. That proved to be a smokescreen.

“We are very excited to announce the hiring of William Wesley, someone that I have known for over 40 years and consider to be family,” Rose said in a statement (which is all he has officially ever done, he has yet to have a press conference since taking over the team, but he is sitting down with Mike Breen this week for television). “He is one of the most well-connected and respected people in the basketball community and he will be a tremendous asset and resource to both myself and the New York Knicks.”

“My long history with and respect for Jim Dolan and Leon Rose, as well as the chance to be part of the New York Knicks made this an opportunity I wanted to pursue,” Wesley said. “I look forward to joining the current staff and moving the organization toward a successful future.”

Wesley has long had influence in the Garden, but he preferred to work more in the shadows. Wesley was tight with Carmelo Anthony and, after Isiah Thomas was forced out of the Knicks hierarchy, Wesley was the guy who had owner James Dolan’s ear. Wesley’s gift is that he is seemingly everywhere — he is “worldwide” — having relationships at Nike, with college players, at the AAU level, with all kinds of pros. He builds relationships and had the trust of people at every level of basketball.

The Knicks have made some other smart hires: both Walt Perrin and Frank Zanin are assistant general managers, Brock Aller is a VP of basketball and strategic planning, and the Knicks picked up Alex Kline and TJ Zanin as scouts.

The Knicks still need to hire a head coach for next season, and while they are conducting a lot of interviews Tom Thibodeau is considered the clear frontrunner around the league.

Can Rose lead all these people to start to turn the Knicks around (which is going to be like turning an oil tanker around at sea, it’s going to take some time)? Can Rose save Dolan from his instincts around the team? Time will tell.