New York’s own Knicks fired head coach Jeff Hornacek hours after the regular season ended, and now the search is on.
New York natives and former players Mark Jackson and Kenny Smith are at the top of the list to replace him, with the latter not having coaching experience. But according to Smith, nearly two decades in sports broadcasting is all he needs to land the job, and that’s exactly what he told SiriusXM NBA Radio Tuesday.
“The 18 years that I’ve been on TNT has prepared me for a lot of things and coaching being one of them. The preparation and the reservoir of information, relationships to players to everything. Players to coaches to assistant coaches everything. From being in college basketball to the Final 4, AAU teams. Every element I’ve covered has kind of prepared me for more direction,” said Smith.
The 53-year-old anchor interviewed for the job last week and said coaching for his hometown team is definitely something he’d like to accomplish. “As long as it’s basketball, it’s always going to be me. Coaching is definitely on the aspiration list. I did meet with the Knicks and it was a lot of fun. We’ll see,” he added.
The Knicks hiring The Jet is a long shot, as former coaches like Jackson, ex-Cavs head coach David Blatt, and current Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer are in the running as well.
Smith is currently the on-air host of TNT’s basketball coverage alongside fellow legends and big personalities Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley. Together, they offer up tons of color commentary while cracking jokes on each other. The last time the Knicks decided to hire a coach with no prior experience it was for triangle offense, using Derek Fisher who led the team to a 17-65 record during the 2014-15 season— the worst record in franchise history.
Regardless of the past, Smith thinks he’s got what it takes and the fact that execs from organizations have been reaching out to him over the past few years speaks volumes. He said, “18 years in this game and having relationships and general managers calling you for your opinion off the record and all those kind of things prepare you for these moments.”
This isn’t the first time Smith’s tried to get a job in the organization. He interviewed for the GM job in 2008 and also took a meeting for the Houston Rockets, where he played most of his career, for a head coaching job in 2016. The Knicks are set to interview Blatt in Europe next week and do some scouting while overseas as they’ll likely get the ninth or tenth pick in this year’s draft. The overseas prospects have done well for the Knicks as of late, with the unicorn Kristaps Porzingis becoming a team leader and Frank Ntilikina developing.