The New York Knicks are at the tail end of another losing season, but interim coach Kurt Rambis says he believes the club is well-positioned for a quick turnaround.
"If we get the right pieces and continue to grow as a team and everything, we see this turning around real quick," Rambis said Sunday. "The potential is there to turn it around really quick."
The Knicks have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and, with a loss Tuesday, will have recorded back-to-back seasons of at least 50 losses under team president Phil Jackson.
One of Jackson's first tasks of the offseason will be to hire a coach.
Rambis remains a strong candidate for the job, but, according to league sources, Jackson plans to do his due diligence in the search and consider other candidates who are available.
One name that the Knicks are considering, according to league sources, is former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt.
Jackson views Blatt favorably, according to sources. It’s also worth noting that Blatt played basketball with Knicks GM Steve Mills at Princeton.
Blatt was fired by the Cavs in January and was replaced by Tyronn Lue.
It wouldn't be a surprise if Jackson considered other candidates outside of Blatt as well, though Rambis is still believed to be one of the top candidates.
The ex-Minnesota Timberwolves coach took over for Derek Fisher in early February and holds a 9-18 record since the move.
Other coaches who will likely be available include Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and Scott Brooks. It is unclear at this point whether Jackson will consider any of them for New York's vacancy.
Jackson's interest in Blatt is evidence that he's open to considering candidates who don't have experience running the triangle offense. Running the triangle remains a priority for Jackson, but having experience running the offense is not necessarily a prerequisite for the job, according to league sources familiar with the team's thinking.
Some fans are understandably frustrated with how Jackson’s first two full seasons as team president have gone. Rambis understands that frustration but also views the Knicks' struggles as a necessary portion of a rebuild.
"There's nobody on this staff that feels comfortable not making the playoffs; we're all in the same boat with that. We all know that we have to do things better and we have to get better in order to make that happen," Rambis said. "It's a process [to build a winning team], but I'm not thinking 10 years from now. We're all assuming it's going to happen a lot sooner rather than later.
"We're looking at it from a standpoint of new management, new coaching staff, so last year was a year that I calculate as Year 0, just trying to clean things up and move forward. This is our first year of really trying to move forward and seeing what we have and the direction that we want to go and adding pieces. This is a natural process of what happens in the NBA."
If this is considered a true rebuild, then Jackson set things back with his decision to hire Fisher as his first coach. He fired Fisher in early February and now will have to find another coach to lead the franchise.