The New York Knicks have run through 10 coaches this century, including three in the past four years, so they may have trouble attracting the most established coaching candidates in their search to replace David Fizdale.
However, they are reportedly drawing interest from one of the most notable assistants in the league: Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs.
Hammon became the first full-time female assistant coach in any of the big four American sports in 2014 after a 16-year run in the WNBA. She led the Spurs to a Las Vegas Summer League title in 2015 and became Gregg Popovich’s top assistant in 2018.
Sources told CNBC's Jabari Young and Ganesh Setty that Hammon would have interest in the position if she could land a four- or five-year deal. That has been fairly standard, as the last three Knicks coaches have landed five-year (Derek Fisher), three-year (Jeff Hornacek) and four-year (Fizdale) contracts despite each getting fired with at least one year left on their deals.
That type of security would probably be necessary because the Knicks are one of the toughest coaching jobs in the NBA. The franchise has sky-high expectations despite not having a winning season since 2012-13, and a slow start cost Fizdale his job after 22 games this season.
How desirable is the Knicks job?
The next Knicks coach will inherit several young players like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina with plenty of talent but a steep learning curve. And the rest of the roster is filled out with stopgap veterans who are ill-suited for the modern NBA. The Knicks are one of the premier NBA franchises, but this team is a long way away from contention.
Hammon seems likely to land a head coaching job at some point, and there will be plenty of pressure on her as the first female coach. Nancy Lieberman did coach the Texas Legends of the G League, but the NBA carries another level of scrutiny.
The Knicks job does not seem to be set up for anyone to succeed, as Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr can attest. Organizational stability matters, and the Knicks haven’t had it under James Dolan. It will be a major milestone in sports when Hammon or any other woman is hired as a coach, and hopefully, she will get a better shake than Fizdale, Hornacek and the rest of the Knicks coaches have gotten.
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