The New York Knicks appear to have some competition in the race to acquire Frank Vogel’s services. Find out which team is after Vogel.
In an answer to the prayers of the masses, the New York Knicks reached out to free agent head coach Frank Vogel on Friday, May 6. It was an exploratory conversation between general manager Steve Mills and Vogel’s representatives, with the talks reportedly yielding the determination that Vogel has preliminary interest in filling the Knicks’ vacancy.
Unfortunately for those who were hoping for a path with no resistance, the Knicks aren’t the only team interested in hiring Vogel to be their head coach.
Phil Jackson is at his home in Montana, “Clearing his thoughts,” as he prepares for the defining stretch of New York’s high-stakes coaching search. He’s already interviewed David Blatt, but news of Vogel’s availability prompted Mills to reach out within 24 hours of the announcement of his firing.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, another team has entered the mix for Vogel’s services: the Memphis Grizzlies.
That certainly complicates the Knicks’ interest in hiring Vogel.
Memphis stunned the basketball community by firing head coach Dave Joerger on Saturday, May 7. Joerger reportedly requested permission to interview for another team’s head coaching vacancy, which was the second time in three years that he’d done such a thing.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports that Joerger and the Kings are already close to agreeing to a new deal.
That all but rules Joerger out of the Knicks’ coaching search.
With all eyes shifted to Vogel, the pressure now mounts for New York to get something done. The 42-year-old is one of the most well-respected defensive minds in the NBA, and has the youth to suggest he can evolve into a better strategist offensively.
If Memphis’ interest weren’t concerning enough, the Houston Rockets, which are in the market for a new coach, extensively interviewed Vogel for the team’s coaching vacancy in 2011.
Based on the success Vogel has experienced in the five seasons since then, it stands to reason that the Rockets’ interest will persist.
Vogel won 58.0 percent of the regular season games he coached during his stint with the Pacers. He led Indiana to the 2013 and 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, and helped the team finish in the Top 5 in scoring defense in five consecutive seasons.
That includes 2014-15, when franchise player Paul George suffered a compound fracture in his right leg and missed 76 games.
Memphis, which has made six consecutive postseason appearances on the strength of its defense, certainly has the personnel to appeal to Vogel’s senses as a coach. Marc Gasol won Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and Tony Allen is widely regarded as one of the most dominant on-ball defenders of this generation.
Starting point guard Mike Conley will be a free agent, however, and that could complicate the appeal of what Memphis has to offer.
Houston, meanwhile, has one of the most dynamic offensive players in the NBA in shooting guard James Harden. The defense was in shambles in 2015-16, but both Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley are regarded as high-caliber on-ball defenders.
The Knicks only hope that their compilation of assets and home-area appeal will persuade Vogel to choose New York over Houston and Memphis.
New York finished the 2015-16 season at No. 1 in the NBA in defensive field goal percentage at the rim, which is all but certain to intrigue Vogel. Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez wasted no time in coming together and forming what was, statistically, the most dominant combination of rim protectors in the Association.
Throw in nine-time All-Star and former scoring champion Carmelo Anthony, who averaged a career-high 4.2 assists and held opponents to 42.1 percent shooting in 2015-16, and New York has an intriguing frontcourt.
The question in New York is a big one: what will the team be able to offer Vogel as far as perimeter personnel is concerned?
Jerian Grant and Tony Wroten are promising at point guard, but there’s not much stability in terms of guaranteed production and defensive consistency in the backcourt. New York is expected to make a run at Mike Conley, but there’s no guaranteeing he’ll be signed.
Regardless of what the Knicks manage to do in free agency, Porzingis has captivated the masses in a way that leads one to believe Vogel would be intrigued by the possibility of coaching the 20-year-old phenom.
What New York has in its favor is the value of local ties.
Vogel grew up in Wildwood, New Jersey, which is less than three hours away from Madison Square Garden—when traffic permits, of course. The hope is that Vogel would be open to what would essentially be a return home.
Whether Memphis is a significant threat or just another interested party, the pressure is mounting for Jackson and Mills to make a decision on whether or not the Knicks should hire Vogel to fill the head coaching vacancy.
You won’t find many who say they shouldn’t.