The New York Knicks are not renewing the contract of assistant coach Josh Longstaff, according to a team official.
Longstaff has a strong relationship with Kristaps Porzingis and several other young players on the roster. It is unclear if there is any correlation between the organization’s decision not to renew Longstaff’s contract and its current issues with Porzingis.
Longstaff, 34, was well-respected in the Knicks’ locker room, so the decision will likely come as a surprise to players.
Players such as Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez, Ron Baker, Chasson Randle, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Marshall Plumlee credited Longstaff and fellow assistant Dave Bliss with helping them with individual development. He played the same role in the development of Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway.
Longstaff was the assistant coach who was closest to Porzingis.
He was the lone Knicks coach to attend Porzingis’ camp in Latvia last summer. Porzingis worked closely with Longstaff and presumably will be unhappy with the club’s decision not to bring the coach back.
Porzingis had already been frustrated about the dysfunction and drama surrounding the team, and that led him to skip his exit meeting with team president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills.
It is unclear whether the Knicks will fill Longstaff’s role on the bench. Jeff Hornacek hired three of his own assistants last season (Jerry Sichting, Howard Eisley and Corey Gaines), brought back Bliss and Longstaff and retained Kurt Rambis as associate head coach.
Longstaff originally was hired by former Knicks head coach Derek Fisher. Fisher developed a relationship with Longstaff, Bliss and former assistant Brian Keefe as a player in Oklahoma City.
The club’s decision not to renew Longstaff’s contract was first reported by the New York Daily News. A team official said the organization wished Longstaff the best going forward.