Sources: Legitimate support within Knicks organization for Kenny Atkinson as head coach

Ian Begley
SNY

Ian Begley, SNY.tv Twitter | 

While there is no specific timetable known for the Knicks' head-coaching search, there is legitimate internal support within the organization to name Kenny Atkinson as its next head coach, league sources tell SNY.

Atkinson is among the group of coaches expected to interview for the Knicks' head-coaching position. 

Tom Thibodeau, interim coach Mike Miller and former head Knicks head coach Mike Woodson join Atkinson among the group of coaches expected to talk to the Knicks about their vacancy. 

Agents and other coaches with a vested interest in the Knicks' search continue to see Thibodeau as the most likely hire if team president Leon Rose decides not to bring back Miller as head coach. Other outlets have reported that Thibodeau is the early favorite. 

Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd both have fans in the organization, but it's unclear at this point whether they will interview for the job.

With regards to Atkinson, the support among some at MSG for the former Nets head coach stems, in part, from the success he's had developing young players. 

As a head coach in Brooklyn and an assistant with New York and Atlanta, Atkinson built a reputation as one of the top player development coaches in the NBA. 

The Knicks have several young players - RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina - on the roster. The club also has two first-round picks and one early second-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Unless New York uses those players and picks in a package for a trade, the club will have one of the youngest rosters in the NBA next season. 

Thibodeau has a close relationship with Rose. But Rose has probably developed close relationships with several NCAA and NBA coaches. Among them? Kentucky's John Calipari. 

The New York Post reported on Sunday that Calipari would be the favorite for the job if he had interest. But Calipari said publicly in March that he wouldn't coach the Knicks. He's reiterated that message to others more recently.

The head-coaching hire is Rose's biggest decision as team president since taking over in March. The Knicks finished the shortened regular season at 21-45 and have six straight seasons of sub-.400 winning percentages.

Rose and the Knicks have tools to rebuild the roster. The club will have significant cap space this summer and has seven first-round picks in the next four drafts.

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