The New York Knicks have reportedly expanded their list of head coaching candidates, giving a look to Warriors’ assistant, Mike Brown.
The Knicks have no aces up their sleeve. In fact, at this point, they don’t really have sleeves at all. It’s a white dress shirt with the sleeves cut off to be used as bandanas or to fashion a crude shelter, Survivor Man-style.
That’s the problem with the Knicks reportedly considering Mike Brown for their head coaching position, a hire that in-and-of-itself is defensible. He’s a coach with plenty of high-level experience, a career win percentage of better than .600, good defensive credentials and a reputation for getting along with players and managing personalities. He’s also a bit uninspiring considering his last head-coaching gig was a 33-49 campaign with the Cavaliers and he’s spent the last four years with the Warriors, unable to find another head-coaching opportunity.
Would Mike Brown be the right head coach for the New York Knicks?
But the Knicks have already gone this route, they’ve hired the “safe” candidate who was supposed to raise the floor if not necessarily the ceiling. It didn’t work with Jeff Hornacek or Mike Woodson. They’ve also tried the “hire a legend” plan, to see Larry Brown and Lenny Wilkens wash out. They’ve gone outside the box (Mike D’Antoni), they’ve gone inside the box (David Fizdale), they’ve even talked themselves into thinking there wasn’t a box at all (Isiah Thomas and Kurt Rambis).
What they have to show for it is three winning seasons in the 19 years since Jeff Van Gundy left, and a track record for (briefly) committing to plans that are transparently built on novelty rather than a careful assessment of the past and present and a cautious projection of the future. Like Brown, the other coaching candidates they’ve publicly been linked with (Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson, Woodson, Ime Udoka) can each be neatly slotted into one of those previous groups. They’ve always seemed more fascinated by the idea of their next head coach than the actual coach himself.
Maybe the Knicks aren’t doing business as usual. Maybe Mike Brown is the right coach for the job. But if he is it won’t be just because he’s a zig from the Fizdale zag and it won’t be because he brings some free-agent-attracting luster back to the Knicks brand. It won’t be because of what he represents or what he says about the team’s approach and value, it will be because he finally gets them winning more games than they lose.