Surprisingly, Mark Jackson’s candidacy hasn’t gained much traction. It’s noteworthy no other club with a vacancy interviewed Jackson, whose Golden State axing in 2014 left a sourness.
It is believed one concern is the coaching staff Jackson might construct. Jackson has been out of the coaching loop four years and warred with two of his Warriors assistants, Brian Scalabrine and Darren Erman, now flourishing as defensive coordinator in New Orleans.
Budenholzer had two years and approximately $13 million remaining on his contract. He will get it all, which is a lump Hawks owner Tony Ressler did not want to swallow. But if Budenholzer is hired by another organization, which is expected — he’s currently a candidate for the New York Knicks’ job — his new salary will shrink the Hawks’ financial obligations.
Travis Schlenk doesn’t provide a lot of detail, but it is clear that the decision to part ways happened over several conversation during the past few weeks. This wasn’t something they were thinking about during the season. Schlenk emphasized “it wasn’t negative on either side” but it was time for both sides to move on.
A common point I noticed in the interview questions and in print from Atlanta reporters was the decision to let Budenholzer speak to other teams:
This split was driven by Budenholzer, but it’s not like the Hawks handled it perfectly, either. Schlenk allowed the coach to interview for other jobs. By doing so, he created a situation that made the organization look silly — and looking silly is the last thing the Hawks need. They majored in silly under previous ownership. After two weeks of this drama playing out publicly, and with no clear resolution in sight, Ressler and Schlenk likely understood something had to be done to end the embarrassment.
So why did the Hawks agree to part ways without compensation?
Ressler and Schlenk would have liked to leverage another team’s interest in Budenholzer to get draft pick compensation. But the longer this dragged on, the less time it would give the two to begin interviewing other candidates.
Enes Kanter attended the Thunder playoff game last night, and when he was informed that they couldn’t show him on the big board because of tampering, he gave an interesting response:
“I talk to Emmanuel all the time,’’ [Larry] Brown told The Post in a phone interview. “I loved the kid. He’s been injured a lot during the course of his career and only played eight games in China. But I don’t think Emmanuel has ever been in the greatest shape of his life. That position you have to be an elite athlete and in unbelievable shape. I don’t know until he got to the NBA if he has ever been coached the way he needed to be coached.”
Jean-Micheal told The Post after the February trade that brought his brother from the Nuggets that he believes Emmanuel would be a lot further along in his development if he had spent his freshman year in 2014-15 at SMU with Brown, who stepped down as coach in 2016.
“I just think if you can get him for a second-round pick and bring him to New York, surround him with people like Scott, who isn’t afraid to tell him what he needs to do, I think he’s got a great opportunity with Frank and the way Trey has improved,’’ Brown said. “Those are three darn good guards. They have an unbelievable upside. It’s all about Emmanuel being in great shape because he has a great feel for the game. When I watched him in high school, I thought if he came to SMU we had a chance to win a national championship.’’
“I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here,” Budenholzer told ESPN on Wednesday night. “From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”
Atlanta owner Tony Ressler and general manager Travis Schlenk met Budenholzer on Tuesday night in Atlanta and ultimately decided that a separation was the best course for everyone, league sources said.
And the reaction from people who follow the Hawks?
The Knicks’ list of candidates for their coaching vacancy continues to grow. They’ve interviewed Celtics’ lead assistant coach Jay Larranaga, according to a league source.
They received permission to speak to Larranaga and met with him last week, the source said.
One of Larranaga’s strengths is a Knicks’ focus now: player development. He spent two seasons coaching the Erie BayHawks, which was the Knicks’ Developmental League affiliate before they purchased their own team in 2014. Jay’s father, Jim, is the head coach at the University of Miami.
The Knicks’ list of eight interviewees could expand, but there will be no interview with Villanova stud coach Jay Wright.
According to an NBA source, the Knicks will not speak to Wright to conclude an exhaustive coaching search that has now taken them to Europe for David Blatt.
According to an industry source, at least two NBA teams reached out to Wright’s reps, one believed to be the Knicks.
Two weeks ago, Perry all but confirmed he had reach out to Wright when asked if he saw a coach in the NCAA Tournament who intrigued him.
“I saw some exciting basketball during the NCAA Tournament,” Perry said smiling. “We’re not going to address any names, whether it’s college or pro, but it’s going to be an open search. Having been a former college coach, I always kind of keep an eye on those ranks anyway, so we’ll see.”
Scott Perry and Steve Mills have made clear that they are looking for a coach who would be part of the decision-making process, working as a team with the management group. Budenholzer was President & General Manager of the Hawks before stepping down last year.
How much say would he want in personnel matters if he came to New York? That could be a sticking point.
Budenholzer obviously wants out of Atlanta. His displeasure is related to losing personnel power to Schlenk last year, and Schlenk’s subsequent decision to rebuild via the draft. Remember, there were no head coach openings in the NBA after last season, so Budenholzer had little choice but to stay with the Hawks if he wanted to be a head coach in 2017-18.
Reports say Budenholzer became disenchanted with the Hawks over personnel matters.
“He had control in Atlanta then lost control. So that’s a question. Can he deal within a system where he’s not the final decision-maker?” the rival exec said.
“They probably never should have given him control to pick players and make those decisions. That’s not in his realm,” the Western exec said. “But he was in a perfect situation with new ownership. He had just done a fabulous job, it was a contract year so he could ask for what he wanted. But around the league, people think he is an excellent coach.”
Perry has consulted with Brown since acquiring point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who nearly played for Brown at SMU before opting to play professionally for a year in China. Brown stepped down at SMU in July 2016 at age 75.
It was unclear why Mike Budenholzer would want out of Atlanta with two-years and $14 million remaining on his contract, but we now might have a hint.
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.’’
Budenholzer would be the anti-tanking hire. The Knicks have talked about taking a patient approach with their rebuild; but based on this quote, if they hire Bud, you would have to believe the organization is on the same page as him in terms of wanting to win sooner rather than later.
Budenholzer appears so disillusioned with the current Hawks’ philosophy, it’s difficult to imagine him returning. Atlanta is adopting the blueprint set by the “Trust The Process’’ Sixers
“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.’’
Rod Strickland forced a trade out of New York when Mark Jackson was infringing on his playing time. It would be interesting if the two re-united as Knicks coaches all these years later.
Borrego, 41, is considered one of the top young assistant coaches in the NBA, and his time together with Perry with the Orlando Magic has played a part in his ability to interview for the Knicks’ job. Borrego made a strong impression on Perry in a 30-game stint as interim head coach in the 2014-15 season.
Borrego was the runner-up to Fizdale in the Memphis Grizzlies’ search process two years ago and made a strong impression on the Houston Rockets in meetings before they hired Mike D’Antoni. Borrego has turned down college head-coaching opportunities to remain on coach Gregg Popovich’s staff and pursue the chance to be an NBA head coach.
Knicks GM Scott Perry is planning to pair the European trip with a scouting side trip, sources said. The Perry-Blatt meeting will be telltale to Blatt’s candidacy. Blatt has a strong history and relationship with Knicks president Steve Mills, and Mills has been an advocate for Blatt to become the Knicks’ head coach when he worked with Phil Jackson and now Perry.
Nevertheless, Perry has no relationship with Blatt and would need to be convinced that they could work together — and that Blatt, 58, could be an asset in connecting with players and ultimately recruiting free agents to New York. Blatt’s credentials as a European coach are unmatched, and his season-plus with the Cavaliers included a 83-40 record and trip to the 2015 NBA Finals.
Among the Knicks’ head-coaching interviews already completed, David Fizdale and Jerry Stackhouse made strong cases for themselves, league sources told ESPN.
The Knicks also interviewed Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson and TNT analyst Kenny Smith for the vacancy. Woodson, who was fired by the Knicks in 2014 after two-plus seasons, isn’t considered to be in the top tier of initial candidates. Former Golden State Warriors coach and ESPN analyst Mark Jackson also interviewed for the job.
According to a source, Dolan last season sent an email to Hornacek saying he was disappointed in him for not buying fully into the triangle offense. This took place sometime around the All Star break. So we know that as recently as last season Dolan, who loves to tell you he’s not involved, was actually pushing Phil Jackson’s offense down Hornacek’s throat in a not-so-subtle way.