Charles Oakley has a good inkling whom the next Knicks coach will be.
Knowing Knicks president Leon Rose is Tom Thibodeau’s former agent and that the two grew close, Oakley knows how the business works.
Oakley believes the six-week, 11-candidate search will prove to have been much ado about nothing.
“There it is then,’’ Oakley told The Post. “They already know then. You know what I’m saying. That [relationship] goes a long way.’’
Indeed sources close to the situation believe Thibodeau’s ties with Rose will be the ultimate factor in him landing the job. However, Kenny Atkinson and Jason Kidd have given Rose a lot to ponder.
The Post confirmed Atkinson had a second interview with the Knicks on Monday.
Oakley is in Las Vegas doing Tuesday’s Pay-for-View broadcast of the “5 Tournament,’’ which features six NBA alumni teams, including the Knicks. It’s largely a betting event in lieu of NBA games and is sponsored by BetOnline.ag. The Knicks’ five-man club includes DerMarr Johnson, Qyntel Woods and Mardy Collins of the Isiah Thomas era.
Before Thomas, the Knicks were a 1990s powerhouse, with Oakley and Thibodeau on the same side. Oakley would like the Thibodeau selection because it delves into the glorious past, but the former Knicks power forward knows a new head coach is only the start for a downtrodden franchise that has been out of the playoffs seven straight seasons.
“I don’t know if you bring back Knicks basketball and the good quality,’’ Oakley said. “Having a face from the past could do great things, but a face from the past and not having a winning situation, you don’t want to see that.
“Hopefully, whoever the coach is could turn it around because the fans don’t want to see a face from the past as much as they want to see wins and a competitive team. It ain’t going to happen overnight. They might not be a top-20 team this year. There’s a lot here to be done.”
Oakley’s well-documented feud with owner James Dolan still hasn’t reached a conclusion. The Knicks legend is never hesitant to point the finger at ownership as partly a cause of the Knicks’ lack of stability. Whomever is next will be the eighth head coach in nine years.
“It ain’t just the coach you bring in,’’ Oakley said. “It has to start from upstairs, then the next level below. You got to get a commitment from everybody around. When you make a commitment that means we’ll take two, three years to build a team. You got to go through phases. You don’t have a superstar on your team now. And there’s talk they’re going to get a superstar overnight. It don’t work like that. You have nothing to trade to get someone right now. You can’t trade no one to get something.’’
Oakley played under Thibodeau for two seasons with the Knicks from 1996-98 when Thibodeau was Jeff Van Gundy’s top assistant. Thibodeau went on to become a winning head coach with Chicago and Minnesota, owning a 352-246 record.
If Thibodeau is hired, the .589 winning percentage would be the highest of any head coach hired the past two seasons.
“Detailed guy, knew his craft,’’ Oakley said. “He did what a coach is supposed to do, tell guys when they’re not doing stuff right or correct and show them. With a lot of teams now, some coaches don’t voice their opinions. He was an assistant coach who knew what he was doing. It’s what you put in is what you get out.’’
As for Atkinson, Oakley said, he “did a great job in Brooklyn so we don’t know why he got fired.’’
Oakley also touted Kidd as a solid candidate.
“He made the playoffs every year with Milwaukee and the Nets,’’ Oakley said. “Something had to be right.”
Either choice would be OK with Oak.
“It’s a start but everyone has to be on the same page,” Oakley said. “If you hire a head coach, you can’t still have everyone else still goes separate ways. You have a president now and you get a coach and a staff. They’re be going in the right direction. But you got to realize they still don’t have a playoff-caliber team. You can do only so much in one year.”
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