A number of reports are circulating that suggest that, among others being considered, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt is generating some interest in regards to the head coaching position of the New York Knicks. While the position isn't necessarily completely vacant yet; interim coach and Phil Jackson cohort Kurt Rambis is also being said to be considered for the full-time job, it would appear that the Knicks are at least reaching out to likely personnel. Blatt is an interesting consideration for head coaching choice, but one that I definitely think is worth considering. Not for his lack of achievement in Cleveland, but what he was able to accomplish in the European league, and what elements he brought to those teams that maybe we didn't get to see amidst all the Lebron-blustering.
It's worth noting firstly, that the style of coaching that brought Blatt his most success in the Euroleague was one of significant rotation; something that San Antonio and Gregg Popovich devotees will already be familiar with. In the most recent year when the Blatt-coached Maccabi Tel Aviv squad won the Euroleague championship, they did so using a 10-man rotation, with all 10 players receiving significant playing time.
As we saw in that 2014 San Antonio team and last year's Warriors, teams are considering bench depth to be more and more critical to their success, and coaches who know how to effectively utilise said depth will be worth their weight in gold in the coming years. It's not the first time Blatt's coaching style has drawn comparisons to Popovich either. After the Blatt-coached Russian national team won gold at the 2007 EuroBasket, Tournament-MVP Andrei Kirilenko told the Russian media that Blatt "gave everybody a chance to feel that he is important and the result of the team depends on each player".
This is only my opinion, but just the fact that Blatt has demonstrated himself to be a highly-adaptable coach who values depth screams that he is the shot in the arm that the Knicks so desperately need. After a season of watching Porzingis riding the bench for 20 minutes at a time, set-in-stone rotations and god knows how many Arron Afflalo iso post-ups, I give my left thumb for a coach whose gameplan is at least FLEXIBLE.
Now, let's take a look at his offense.
Blatt is mostly known (at Maccabi Tel Aviv, at least) for running variations on the Princeton offense. Which makes sense, as Blatt played point guard for the creator of the Princeton offense, Pete Carril, while attending Princeton. The hallmarks of the Princeton offense are a 1-in 4-out matchup that emphasises passing until a mismatch is created, with backdoor cutters and outside-shooters working in tandem to create havoc for help defense. One of the biggest reasons for running the Princeton offense is to nullify the superior athletic ability that certain opposing teams may have: the Princeton offense can often be slow-developing, with sometimes 8 or 9 passes occurring before a shot attempt.
Currently, I can't think of anyone in the Knicks starting line-up who exemplifies "superior athletic ability". Carmelo, who I still feel is a great player and leader on this Knicks team, is declining physically and our future in Porzingis, who definitely demonstrated some hops this year, is still at the stage where he can be pushed around at times. It just makes sense to employ an offensive system that would play to those non-athletic strengths.
At this point, it goes without saying that Blatt was shackled somewhat in his coaching tenure at Cleveland by ego management. What we would've seen in Cleveland, if not for the antics of Lebron, might've actually been quite similar to the Adelman-coached Sacramento teams of the early-2000's that also heavily utilised the Princeton offense. Now, i'm not saying that hiring David Blatt as coach would solve every problem the Knicks have, but it absolutely would demonstrate that Phil Jackson and the Knicks are not chained to the idea of the triangle, and by playing to each player's strengths rather than enforcing a potentially-archaic system, they WILL become a better team.