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No NBA franchise breeds dysfunction quite like the New York Knicks, who fired second-year coach David Fizdale on Friday after a 4-18 start that everybody outside of the Big Apple saw coming.
Even the great Red Auerbach probably couldn't lead New York's mismatched band of power forwards to the playoffs, but interim coach Mike Miller will try until Knicks management inevitably replaces him for the 2020-21 season.
Oddsmakers released a list of potential candidates to succeed Miller, headlined by former NBA players and current TV personalities Mark Jackson and Kenny Smith. Here's the list, and we'll note a few names that stand out.
|Jeff Van Gundy||10-1|
|Stan Van Gundy||28-1|
Mark Jackson (5-1)
When a coach is fired, the immediate "favorite" to replace them is often more of a joke suggestion than a genuine candidate. But Jackson to the Knicks actually makes a ton of sense.
The former Knicks All-Star was born in Brooklyn, drafted by New York in 1987, and returned to the team via trade in 2001. He interviewed for the job in 2018, so the interest is there on both sides, and his experience laying the groundwork for the dynastic Warriors should give him a leg up.
Kenny Smith (6-1)
Smith, another New York native, also interviewed for the Knicks' coaching job and the general manager job before that. He's been vocal about his desire to coach the team despite zero coaching experience, and he can't be completely discounted as long as James Dolan is running the show.
Ettore Messina (9-1)
Messina is a respected name in NBA circles but might be unknown to the casual fan. He coached as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio from 2014-19 before returning this offseason to the EuroLeague, where he's won four championships and two Coach of the Year awards. He's probably the best candidate available ... if he wants the gig.
Jerry Stackhouse (14-1)
Stackhouse's name jumps off the board and he would be a savvy choice if Knicks management can avoid the temptation of a splashier hire. The 18-year NBA veteran is a rising star in coaching circles after two stints as an NBA assistant, a G League championship, and a hot start in his first year with Vanderbilt.
He was a finalist for the job before Fizdale's hiring in 2018 and has long expressed a desire to be a head coach in the NBA. Stackhouse might be a better bet than any of the candidates above him.
David Blatt (16-1)
Blatt was hired to rebuild a Cavaliers roster that was more promising than this one in 2014 and has a strong coaching pedigree overseas. He also has a connection with Knicks president Steve Mills, who played with Blatt at Princeton from 1978-81. Will Mills be the one making that call? And would Blatt, who resigned from a recent job for health reasons, be ready to take on the rigors of this position?
Patrick Ewing (22-1)
There are crazier ideas than the Knicks luring Ewing, the franchise great and current Georgetown coach, back to New York. The former Hoya is dealing with controversy at his alma mater and could jump ship to the Knicks, whose fans would likely welcome him with open arms. His history as a dominant post player also might actually make stylistic sense with the roster.
Jason Kidd (33-1)
This makes too much sense for odds this long. Kidd was one of the bright young coaches in the league when he first started with the Nets and Bucks, but he left both jobs unceremoniously. He's spent this season rehabilitating his coaching image in Los Angeles, where he's helped Frank Vogel lead the Lakers to a 21-3 start as of Monday.
Kidd was a strong veteran presence for the Knicks the last time they made the playoffs, and he's right at the intersection of "too good to be an assistant" and "too risky to land an elite job." This could be the bet to make.
Brian Shaw (33-1)
Shaw was once among the top coaching candidates in the league, and he was linked to the Knicks' position in 2016 when Phil Jackson was still calling the shots. He's one of the only names on the board with NBA head coaching experience and has been lauded by his former players, which could make him a good fit for New York's young, fractured roster.
Becky Hammon (33-1)
Like Messina, Hammon is among the top assistants in the league after years working with Popovich, and the former New York Liberty star is reportedly interested in the job if the Knicks offer a long-term deal, per CNBC's Jabari Young. That alone makes Hammon an interesting bet. The elephant in the room is the ground-breaking nature of hiring a female coach. Is Dolan the owner to make that move?
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.