NBA offseason moves: Trades, free agency and draft decisions

April, 16, 2018
Apr 16
9:53
PM ET

ESPN Insider Bobby Marks is breaking down the moves every eliminated team can and should make in the offseason.

You can find all of his analysis on the Knicks, Lakers, Spurs and six more teams here, including an outline of the key points for each team.

More teams will be added between now and the NBA Finals.

San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina and former Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale are set to interview for the Charlotte Hornets head-coaching job in the coming days, league sources told ESPN.

Messina and Fizdale are considered two of new Charlotte GM Mitch Kupchak's top candidates to replace Steve Clifford, league sources said.

Fizdale has interviewed for openings with the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns.

After the death of coach Gregg Popovich's wife Erin, Messina coached the Spurs' Game 3 playoff game against Golden State and is set to do so again in Game 4 on Sunday.

Messina has been one of the world's top coaches for decades, a legendary international coach with four EuroLeague championships as a head coach. Messina has coached such global powers as Benetton Treviso, Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow.

Messina made a strong impression on Kupchak with the Los Angeles Lakers, where Kupchak was GM and Messina was a part of Mike Brown's coaching staff that also included Quin Snyder. Messina, 58, has been part of Popovich's Spurs staff since 2014.

Fizdale has become one of the market's most coveted coaching candidates. He was 43-39 in the 2016-7 season, including a six-game playoff loss to the Spurs. He was fired in Memphis after a 7-12 start to this season.


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David BlattDavid Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty ImagesDavid 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.

The New York Knicks plan to interview former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt in Europe next week, league sources told ESPN.

Blatt is coaching a team in Turkey this season.

After the trip overseas, the Knicks are expected to meet with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego in New York, league sources said. The Spurs granted permission to New York to interview Borrego, sources said.

The Knicks also will meet with Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer on Sunday, sources said.

Among the Knicks' head-coaching interviews already completed, David Fizdale and Jerry Stackhouse made strong cases for themselves, league sources told ESPN.

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.

Borrego, 41, is considered one of the top young assistant coaches in the NBA, and his time together with Perry with the Orlando Magic


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TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks' head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.

Smith, who played from 1987 to 1997 with six NBA teams, has never coached in the NBA.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this week that the four top candidates are former Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt and former Toronto Raptors assistant Jerry Stackhouse.

The expectation was that three of the four would interview this week, with Blatt's interview coming next week.

New York also received permission to talk to former head coach Mike Woodson, who now is serving as an assistant for the LA Clippers, sources told ESPN. Woodson, who was fired by the Knicks in 2014 after two-plus seasons at the helm, isn't considered to be in the top tier of initial candidates.

Knicks president Steve Mills -- a former teammate of Blatt's at Princeton -- and general manager Scott Perry are conducting the search, which was to include interviews with candidates beyond Fizdale, Jackson, Stackhouse, Blatt and Woodson, league sources said.

The Knicks fired coach Jeff Hornacek last week after seasons of 31-51 and 29-53 in New York.


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Stephen A. Smith says the Knicks' culture is so bad that they need a coach like Mark Jackson who can give the organization a new face.

The New York Knicks have not shown interest 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 said. But league sources familiar with the matter said that despite contact between the team and Van Gundy's representatives, there currently is no interest.

Van Gundy coached the Knicks for parts of seven seasons, leading the club to six consecutive playoff appearances and an Eastern Conference title in 1999. New York has won one playoff series since Van Gundy's departure in 2001.

The Knicks are searching for a coach to replace Jeff Hornacek, who was fired Thursday morning.

The club earlier this week was finalizing plans to meet with their four top candidates: David Fizdale, Mark Jackson, Jerry Stackhouse and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Jackson will interview with the team Wednesday, sources said. The Knicks plan to meet with Fizdale and Stackhouse this week and with Blatt, who is expected to travel to the United States, the following week.

New York also has received permission to talk to former head coach Mike Woodson, who's now serving as an assistant for the LA Clippers


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Bobby Marks breaks down the reported list of candidates for the Knicks' head-coaching position and a timeline for a decision.

What moves can and should the Knicks make in the offseason?

April, 16, 2018
Apr 16
2:15
AM ET

A different offseason but more of the same in New York.

Missing the playoffs once again correlates with the New York Knicks interviewing for a new head coach, their third search since 2014.

While the head-coaching search is the first priority (and most important) this offseason, New York is faced with questions ranging from the health of (and the potential extension for) Kristaps Porzingis, finding a resolution with Joakim Noah and continuing a rebuild with a top-10 selection in June.

More summer focus: Click here for every team so far


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The New York Knicks are finalizing plans to meet with the four top candidates for their head-coaching job: David Fizdale, Mark Jackson, Jerry Stackhouse and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, league sources told ESPN.

The Knicks plan to meet with Fizdale, Jackson and Stackhouse this week, and with Blatt, who is expected to travel to the United States, the following week.

New York also has received permission to talk to former head coach Mike Woodson, who's now serving as an assistant for the LA Clippers, league sources told ESPN. Woodson, who was fired by the Knicks in 2014 after two-plus seasons at the helm, isn't considered to be in the top tier of initial candidates.

The Knicks are searching for a coach to replace Jeff Hornacek, who was fired Thursday morning.

Knicks president Steve Mills -- a former teammate of Blatt's at Princeton -- and general manager Scott Perry are conducting the search, which will include interviews with candidates beyond Fizdale, Jackson, Stackhouse, Blatt and Woodson, league sources said.

Woodson was 54-28 with the Knicks in 2012-13, leading them to the franchise's only postseason series victory over the past 18 years. The Knicks went 37-45 the following season, resulting in Woodson's departure. 


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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis says he doesn't need to have any input on the New York Knicks' coaching search.

"That's [management's] job. They're going to do their part and I'm going to do my part. We'll keep it like that," Porzingis said Saturday before meeting with Knicks team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

Mills and Perry fired Jeff Hornacek earlier this week and have begun a search for the next Knicks coach.

Former Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, former Cavaliers coach David Blatt (now coaching in Turkey) and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson (now an ESPN analyst) are among the candidates the Knicks planned to contact after Hornacek's firing, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

New York also planned to contact Jerry Stackhouse -- coach of Raptors 905, Toronto's G League affiliate -- according to sources.

Whomever the Knicks hire will be Porzingis' fourth coach in four NBA seasons in New York.

"The situation is what it is. I'm sure the front office, they will make the right decisions and build something that can go a long way," said Porzingis, who averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 48 games. "I think they will make the right decisions, so we have to trust them."


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The Charlotte Hornets dismissed coach Steve Clifford on Friday morning, the team announced, ending a five-year run that included two trips to the playoffs.

After hiring Mitch Kupchak as president and general manager on Sunday, owner Michael Jordan has afforded him the autonomy to reshape the franchise's basketball operations and coaching staff. Charlotte joins an increasingly crowded group of teams pursuing new head coaches, including Orlando, New York, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Memphis.

Leaving the Hornets clears the way for Clifford to become a candidate for openings with any of those teams.

Charlotte missed the playoffs the past two seasons after two playoff appearances in Clifford's first three seasons as coach. Clifford's NBA coaching peers view him as a strong tactical coach with the ability to build strong relationships with his players.

All-Star guard Kemba Walker recently said of Clifford, "He's been great from Day 1. He's been a great coach for me, very motivational. He got me to another level. I just love him as a coach, as a person. He's been special for me in my career."

Clifford finished with a 196-214 regular-season record, including a 36-46 record each of the past two seasons. Before that, Clifford was a 13-year NBA assistant coach with the Knicks, Rockets, Magic and Lakers.

Clifford, 56, has recovered from a several-week bout of headaches and insomnia that caused him to take a leave of absence this season.


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Kristaps PorzingisOscar Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Knicks are taking a patient approach, building around Kristaps Porzingis and hoping to attract big-name free agents in 2019.

New York Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry cited issues with player accountability and on-court consistency as two reasons why they fired coach Jeff Hornacek.

 "Jeff did a good job in some areas and in some areas he could have done a little bit better job," Mills said on Thursday. "[We] just thought that there was an opportunity to get someone who really fit where we wanted to be three to five years from now."

Mills and Perry fired Hornacek early Thursday morning after the team landed at a New York airport following Wednesday's season-ending win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Knicks executives said on Thursday they have already been contacted by coaching candidates -- or their representatives -- about the job opening.

"I think this is a very desirable place and job, and I think a lot of candidates will see and understand the vision that we have, the type of people that we are," Perry said. "In conjunction with the city of New York and the historical significance of the New York Knicks, this will be an attractive job for a lot of coaches and [there] will be a lot of interest in this job."


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The New York Knicks concluded their season Wednesday the same way as the previous four: out of the playoffs.

The difference this time was, having traded veteran Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder before the season, the Knicks weren't necessarily focused on getting to the postseason. With all their own first-round picks going forward, New York can utilize conventional methods to rebuild the roster after a series of efforts to jump-start the process in free agency have fallen short.

So, after firing head coach Jeff Hornacek, how far are the Knicks away from returning to the playoffs? The answer to that question will hinge on the health of injured star Kristaps Porzingis.


Porzingis injury slows timeline

Before Porzingis went down with a torn ACL in February, New York was hanging around the fringes of the playoff race at 23-31. Without Porzingis, the Knicks finished the season 6-22 -- an 18-win pace over a full season, though that must be understood in the context of a shift in their motivations.


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After a 2016-17 season with no coaching changes, there has been plenty of movement on that front in 2017-18. Three coaches lost their jobs during the season, and the offseason firings began just hours after the regular season ended. We'll be on top of all the moves as they happen.

Atlanta Hawks

Who's out: Mike Budenholzer?

Who's in: TBD

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Hawks granted coach Mike Budenholzer permission to speak with the Phoenix Suns about their head-coaching vacancy, but Budenholzer has since withdrawn his name from consideration for that job. Budenholzer led the Hawks to the Eastern Conference finals in 2014-15, but the team declined every season since, missing the postseason altogether in 2017-18 to end a 10-season streak. Budenholzer, an Arizona native who has two years left on his contract, had been Atlanta's president of basketball operations until he relinquished front office control with the arrival of new GM Travis Schlenk in the spring of 2017.

Charlotte Hornets

Who's out: Steve Clifford

Who's in: TBD


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Stephen A. Smith explains why Mark Jackson could be the next head coach in New York.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kristaps Porzingis
PTS AST STL MIN
22.7 1.2 0.8 32.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsE. Kanter 11.0
AssistsJ. Jack 5.6
StealsT. Williams 1.1
BlocksK. Porzingis 2.4