The New York Knicks have once again been linked to the Utah Jazz, and not just because of Donovan Mitchell. On Sunday, Utah announced that head coach Quin Snyder had resigned. The Jazz are now in search of a new coach and New York’s Johnnie Bryant is a candidate for the job (subscription required).
Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Bryant, Terry Stotts (who most recently served as head coach for the Portland Trail Blazers), Alex Jenson (an assistant coach for Utah), Will Hardy (an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics), and Adrian Griffin (an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors) have all emerged as candidates for the position.
The Knicks lost assistant coach Kenny Payne to Louisville a few months ago and the team is now at risk of losing their associate head coach. Before New York made it known that Tom Thibodeau would be back as the head coach in 2022-23, many advocated for Bryant to take his place.
Now, the 36-year-old could be taking someone’s place, but not Thibodeau’s. It’d be a ‘full circle’ moment for Bryant, who played at the University of Utah and later got his first coaching opportunity with the Jazz.
Knicks’ Johnnie Bryant emerges as Utah Jazz head coach candidate
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Utah’s not going to delay its search for a new coach. The organization has more questions to answer regarding the futures of both Mitchell (who Bryant is close with) and Rudy Gobert, so Snyder’s departure came at a bad time.
It could also end up coming at a bad time for the Knicks. If things go south with Thibodeau next year, New York could fire him mid-season. That certainly isn’t a scenario that fans should hope for, but it’d leave a hole that Bryant could fill.
So, it’d be extremely bittersweet if Bryant were to be hired for his first head coach opportunity with the Jazz. You couldn’t help but be happy for him, but it’d be tough to see him part ways with the Knicks organization, especially given how Thibodeau and New York are coming off a 37-45 year. There was talk in the front office about firing Thibodeau during the All-Star break, so he’s already on thin ice.
Leon Rose should be doing his best to encourage Bryant in Utah’s head coach search, but also working to retain him at the same time.
It’s a good sign that members of the Knicks’ coaching staff have been considered/elevated to higher positions, but at the same time, it’d be nice for New York to keep some of that success within the organization. It’d be smart for the Knicks to learn from the Brooklyn Nets and Ime Udoka situation.
Imagine if Bryant became the Jazz’s new head coach, successfully mended the fences between Mitchell and Gobert, and led Utah beyond the first round of the playoffs, all while New York experienced yet another year of being eliminated from the playoffs. That’s enough to make you shudder.
Knicks fans should be rooting for Bryant’s best interest, but also hoping at the same time that New York won’t lose Thibodeau’s talented right hand man. And you never know, if Bryant sticks around, he could soon end up being the next head coach for the Knicks…