The New York Knicks are faced with plenty of personnel decisions during the offseason. But at least now they won't have to worry about a coach.
The Knicks have scheduled a news conference for today to announce they are sticking with Jeff Van Gundy for next season.While the NBA team would not confirm the appointment, a source said Tuesday night the choice was Van Gundy, who finished out the season after Don Nelson was fired.
The Knicks reportedly exercised their two-year option on Van Gundy's contract, which had not been guaranteed. The deal, signed shortly after Van Gundy took the position, will pay him $1 million a season.
Van Gundy, 34, took over as head coach March 8 and guided the Knicks into the second round of the playoffs. He has a seven-year association with the Knicks, having worked as an assistant under Nelson, Pat Riley, John MacLeod and Stu Jackson.
While there was speculation the Knicks would pursue a more prominent coach in hopes of recapturing some of Riley's glamour, management decided to stick with its self-deprecating career assistant who produced results in two months on the job.
Knicks president-general manager Ernie Grunfeld had said Van Gundy's performance would be evaluated after the season. The Knicks fared better in the playoffs than most expected.
They swept Cleveland in three games in the first round, then made things tough for Chicago before losing to the Bulls in five games.
Van Gundy, instituting many of Riley's defensive principles and returning the team to an ethic of hard work, won the endorsement of Patrick Ewing and the respect of an often difficult group of players that had bickered and languished under Nelson.
Settling on a coach is the first of many decisions confronting the Knicks. Derek Harper will be a free agent this summer, as will J.R. Reid, Willie Anderson, Gary Grant and Herb Williams. Ewing has only one season left on his contract.
New York will have about $10 million of salary cap room to play with in the free agent market, and will be trying to land some of the league's headliners.