The New York Knicks are prepared to see whether Jay Wright’s magic touch can work in the NBA.
The Villanova University coach is a candidate to become the Knicks’ next head coach, The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reported Thursday, citing a source close to the NBA team. Wright recently led Villanova to its second national championship in three years, and Knicks management believes he’s the “perfect” candidate to lead the team through its rebuilding phase, according to Isola’s source. The Knicks reportedly intend to contact Wright to gauge his interest in replacing Jeff Hornaceck, whom they fired Thursday morning after two losing seasons.
However, the Knicks’ pursuit of Wright likely will be fruitless, as a source close to Wright told Isola the Villanova coach’s long-term ambition is to keep the school among college basketball’s powerhouse programs.
“He told me years ago that he wanted to make Villanova into the Duke of the Northeast,” says a person close to Wright. “It would take a lot for him to leave.”
Wright told The Athletic’s Dana O’Neil on Tuesday he’s happy at Villanova.
“I?m staying,” Wright said when O’Neil asked him about his interest in coaching in the NBA. “I love it here. I love what we?re doing. I?m just really happy. … I don?t need another challenge. I like happy better than a new challenge.
“The NBA does intrigue me. … Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don?t see that happening.”
Other candidates for the Knicks job include David Blatt, David Fizdale, Mark Jackson, Doc Rivers, Craig Robinson and Jerry Stackhouse.
Robinson, the ex-Oregon State head coach and brother of former United States First Lady Michelle Obama — currently is the Knicks’ vice president of player and organization development and is considered a long-shot candidate, according to Isola.
That’s something Robinson and Wright apparently have in common.