The New York Knicks plan to reach out to Villanova coach Jay Wright about becoming their new head coach, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.
Wright, who earlier this month led the Wildcats to their second national championship in three years, is one of several candidates mentioned by the Daily News to succeed Jeff Hornacek. Hornacek was fired Wednesday night after the Knicks concluded their season with a win over Cleveland.
Wright, 56, had received heavy interest from teams after each of Villanova’s previous Final Four appearances during his tenure as head coach – Kentucky in 2009 and the Phoenix Suns in 2016 – but remained at the university.
He was asked after the Wildcats’ victory over Michigan in the championship game about his current job, which he called “the best job in the country.”
“It’s my hometown, my wife’s alma mater, my favorite team growing up,” he said. “I’ve got a great president and a great [athletic director]. I just love going to work every day. Our guys graduate. You see these kids are great kids to coach. As a coach, there’s just nothing better.”
In an interview this week with The Athletic, Wright acknowledged that the challenge of coaching an NBA team is “appealing,” but that he wouldn’t want to give up what he already has.
“Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes,” he said. “But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”
Wright earns about $2.6 million per season. The Knicks could offer him twice that amount or more; Hornacek signed a three-year, $15 million contract when he took the job starting in the 2016-17 season.
The Daily News listed other candidates for the job as former Knicks player and ex-Golden State coach Mark Jackson, current Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, one-time NBA head coaches David Fizdale and David Blatt, and former 76ers player Jerry Stackhouse, a head coach in the NBA G-League.