On a small scale Saturday night time, Josh Longstaff confirmed the Knicks why, but once more, they could have tossed away the incorrect assistant coach.
The checklist of their latest castoffs is lengthy, in fact, and miserable: Tom Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson, Steve Clifford, Michael Malone. Longstaff, solely 35 years outdated, is attempting to affix that group as an NBA head coach, whereas now reducing his tooth within the G-League as head coach of the Erie Bayhawks, an Atlanta Hawks affiliate.
The Bayhawks, like Longstaff, are a piece in progress with rising potential, having gained 9 of their final 12 video games to maneuver a half recreation out of the division lead. Their newest was a comeback Saturday over the Westchester Knicks, the staff with one of the best document within the G-League, with Kristaps Porzingis’ brother and agent, Janis, within the crowd to indicate help for Longstaff.
“I noticed a chance to be a head coach and that’s what I wish to do. And I additionally noticed a chance from what I discovered from OKC and New York, being across the gamers and the coaches, there was a chance to go educate it as a head coach,” Longstaff stated afterwards. “Taking issues at some point at a time has at all times been the strategy that I discovered in Oklahoma Metropolis and I believe that chance has been one of the best for me – the issues I discovered from Russell (Westbrook) and Kevin (Durant), Carmelo (Anthony) and Kristaps (Porzingis), all the blokes I’ve been round to only cross it alongside.”
Longstaff nonetheless retains in touch together with his former gamers, together with Porzingis, however the dialog is now not about basketball – “I really feel like that’s not my place anymore,” the coach stated. However he does use his former partnership with Porzingis as motivation for the Bayhawks gamers.
“These guys ask me questions on guys like Kris on a regular basis,” Longstaff stated. “As a result of I used to be truly there to see it and reply it. And I believe if I say, ‘Kristaps used to do this,’ they’re going to hearken to that greater than me telling them to do it. In order that helps as effectively.”
Longstaff was dropped at the Knicks from OKC by Derek Fisher. He spent three seasons as a participant growth coach earlier than his contract wasn’t renewed over the summer season. He cast shut relationships with gamers who had been appreciative of his work ethic, particularly Porzingis.
Longstaff was the one Knicks staffer to journey with the All-Star to Latvia and help with coaching throughout the summer season of 2016. When Porzingis skipped his exit assembly and remoted himself from the Knicks the next 12 months, he nonetheless requested that Longstaff be a part of the Latvian teaching workers for the European championships.
Though the Knicks struggled immensely the final three seasons, their participant growth – spearheaded by Longstaff and assistant Dave Bliss — was a constructive as children Langston Galloway, Lance Thomas, Willy Hernangomez, Ron Baker and Porzingis all exceeded expectations.
In touchdown the job with the Bayhawks, Longstaff joined an Atlanta Hawks group identified for participant growth. Tim Hardaway Jr., for example, reworked his recreation, mentality and work ethic throughout his stint with the Hawks that included a humbling demotion to the Bayhawks.
In different phrases, the Hawks needed to extract the Knicks out of Hardaway Jr. earlier than he went again for $71 million.
“I’ve advised the Tim Hardaway story many instances, simply how quote-unquote we held him accountable,” Atkinson, who was a Hawks assistant after leaving the Knicks, stated. “Coach Budenholzer did an excellent job of waking as much as – you higher get in form and also you higher defend otherwise you’re not going to outlive right here.
“Timmy took that message, went to the D-League at the moment and turned it round, got here again like a brand new man. Humbled, in form, hungry, and turned out to be a superb defender for us, wonderful shooter. It was like actually a magical turnaround.”
For Longstaff, the turnaround — or the push in the appropriate path — is crucial a part of the job. Then it is out of his palms.
“You at all times miss the gamers. Once I left Oklahoma Metropolis, I used to be excited to be a coach however I missed all these guys and similar factor in New York,” Longstaff stated. “They’re all tremendous gifted they usually’re going to be good it doesn’t matter what. It’s identical to there’s two paths you’ll be able to take, this one or this one, and also you promote one, however then when you get them on that path they don’t actually need you, to be trustworthy with you.”