New York Knicks

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

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Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright. 

Sixers must adjust rotations to make up for Joel Embiid's absence

Sixers must adjust rotations to make up for Joel Embiid's absence

Brett Brown has had to shuffle his lineups countless times throughout his years as commander of “the process.”

This time may be his toughest juggling act yet.

The Sixers announced on Thursday that Joel Embiid suffered a left orbital fracture that will require surgery and a concussion after colliding with Markelle Fultz (see story).

The crunch will be on for Embiid to return for the start of the NBA playoffs. But the pressure is also turned up on Brown, who will have to figure out a new frontcourt mix without the Sixers’ centerpiece that can keep the team in position to secure home-court advantage in the first round (see story).

In the immediate aftermath of Embiid’s injury, expect veteran Amir Johnson to take over the starting center role. However, Johnson missed the Sixers’ last game with an illness, which could open the door for Richaun Holmes.

Whether Holmes gets the start or comes off the bench, Brown is sure the big man will be ready.

“We understand I’ve been playing Amir over Richaun, and it’s getting down to the end of the season. How do people handle that, and I thought Richaun tonight was excellent,” Brown said after Holmes put up 15 points (6 for 11 FGs) and seven rebounds in 21:56 of action during the team’s 118-101 win over the Knicks. “He really responded well to that and we needed it all.”

The Sixers will need even more than just Johnson and Holmes to patrol the paint without their All-Star center. Look for Brown to get creative with both Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova manning the middle in spurts. 

“We played Ersan more at the five than we normally do,” Brown said. “… Without Joel, how do I handle it I think is your question, is you do it by committee. You do it by a team, and you buy some time until somebody says that Joel can return to play.”

That return remains unknown at the moment, but the Sixers do have a roster — one with serious length — they hope can hold onto that precious home-court advantage in the interim. Brown experimented with some of those looks on Wednesday as the Sixers outscored the Knicks 51-38 during the second half for their eighth straight victory.

“I think you’re just always learning,” Brown said. “Like tonight, look at the unlikely group we ended the game with. “Saric at five, (Robert) Covington at four, (Marco) Belinelli, (JJ) Redick and Ben (Simmons). They showed there’s another level of firepower, offensive firepower, in that group. We’re big enough to switch on some stuff [defensively] and keep the game in front of us.

“The team can kind of morph into many different types of looks.”

Sixers play waiting game after Embiid suffers facial injury

Sixers play waiting game after Embiid suffers facial injury

BOX SCORE

And now the Sixers wait. 

Wait for the results of additional testing. 

Wait to learn when their centerpiece will be able to return to the court.

Wait to determine how they will approach the remainder of the regular season and gear up for the playoffs. 

Joel Embiid suffered a facial contusion early in the second quarter Wednesday of the Sixers’ 118-101 win over the Knicks when he collided with Markelle Fultz on a handoff attempt (see observations). Embiid spun around after contact and hit the court grabbing his face. 

“I was trying to get the ball,” Fultz said. “At the same time, I was watching him. My heart dropped really because I know he hit me. But he’s a tough guy and I know he’s going to be OK. All I can do is pray for him.”

After Embiid left the floor, he went through the concussion protocol, which ruled out a concussion. He went to a local hospital following the game to undergo precautionary concussion testing. Once those results are in, the team will be able to begin to determine a timeframe.

That update could come Thursday or Friday.

Embiid posted a slightly worrisome Instagram story late Wednesday night from a hospital bed with the words "Not Good."

“Whatever the collision was, it didn’t sound good,” JJ Redick said. “That was scary.” 

In the meantime, the Sixers had to adjust with only two available centers. Amir Johnson also was sidelined by gastroenteritis. Richaun Holmes and Ersan Ilyasova filled the void, the pairing of centers that could be utilized moving forward depending on the timetables for Embiid and Johnson.

“We played Ersan more at a five than we normally do,” Brett Brown said. “You do it by committee, you do it by a team, and you buy some time until somebody says that Joel can return to play.”

The Sixers, as a team, stepped up in Embiid’s absence. Notably, Dario Saric led them with a 26-point, 14-rebound double-double. Ben Simmons neared a triple-double, which is becoming the norm, with 13 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Holmes came off the bench with 15 points and seven boards. Double-digit stats stretched across the scoreboard. 

“Maybe I had a little bit more space in that case,” Saric said. “Maybe I took a little more responsibility when Joel [left]. Obviously, I think all players share a little bit responsibility.”

The Sixers kick off a two-game road trip by traveling to Atlanta Thursday. It remains to be seen if Embiid will join them. They have eight games left in the regular season, eight opportunities to chase home-court advantage. There's no one on the Sixers who thrives off the home crowd more than Embiid, and the rest of the team will have to do so if he's unable to play for an extended period of time.

“Obviously, he’s our horse, he’s our guy. We need him out there," Redick said. "Whatever it takes for him to get back out on the court, we’ll be ready for him.”