Lawrence: Houston not a viable option as coach of Knicks

By on December 8, 2013
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Allan Houston attends the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on October 30, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)

James Devaney/WireImage

Allan Houston on the bench for the Knicks would be a disaster for James Dolan.

Jim Dolan’s obsession with Mikhail Prokorov and the Brooklyn Nets might serve the Knicks very well in one regard. Seeing how the Jason Kidd hiring has been a monumental mistake, Dolan should draw the conclusion that if he is going to pink-slip Mike Woodson, then he can’t make Allan Houston the next head coach of the Knicks.

Houston’s name surfaced as a potential successor to Woodson around the same time last week that Kidd was removing Lawrence Frank from his bench and banning him from the practice gym. Houston is assistant GM to Steve Mills, and like Kidd, has no coaching experience.

“When you see how Kidd has been a failure — his team shows no effort on a consistent basis — if Dolan would give the job to Houston, then New York fans would be in an uproar,” said one Eastern Conference team executive. “Allan Houston would be a disaster as a coach.”

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Houston does have one thing going for him and it has nothing to do with coaching. He’s been loyal to Dolan for years, which is not at all surprising since his $ 100-million contract from 2001 was paid by the Garden chairman.

Otherwise, he’s never been considered coaching material, even if he’s been taking to working out Knick players. We can’t imagine that Woodson is too thrilled by Houston venturing into territory that usually is reserved for members of the team’s coaching staff and is strictly off-limits for front-office personnel.

But Houston has the run of the Knicks’ training facility because of his long-time connections with the man in charge.

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“My job is to make Jim look good,” Houston once told me, years ago, before he stopped talking to the media because of the repercussions it would mean for his career in the organization.

Houston has been loyal to Dolan and that’s all well and good. But Dolan would be making a terrific mistake if he fires Woodson and turns to his old shooting guard to run his team. All he has to do is look across the East River and see how things are working out for his good friend Prokhorov on the coaching front.

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE . . .

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The Kidd-Frank relationship first really hit the skids when Kidd sent a message to his chief assistant by naming another assistant coach, Joe Prunty, his replacement as he served out his two-game suspension to start the season. Frank threw a fit over what he saw as a major slight, but it should have served to alert him that he was being viewed by his boss as one of three main assistant coaches, albeit working under a record $ 6 million contract, with his primary responsibility being the defensive end of the floor. We also heard from Nets people that Frank regularly honed in on other assistant coaches’ work and often acted like he was in charge. No surprise there, since in his two head coaching stints, in New Jersey and Detroit, Frank insisted on being in total control… Kidd isn’t in as much trouble as you’d think. The Nets don’t believe they’ll get an accurate picture of what he can do as a coach until they’ve got their full complement of players. That means the clock isn’t ticking on him until after Deron Williams comes back and starts playing regularly… I told you so: I told the Nets back in May before they hired Kidd that they should bring in Lionel Hollins to replace P.J. Carlesimo. Even with their injuries and obvious roster deficiencies — have you ever seen a slower, older team that doesn’t play hard? — they may have three or four more wins now with Hollins. Coming off a franchise-record 56-win season and Memphis’ first trip to the Western Conference Finals, it was a no-brainer. But the Nets hired Kidd on June 12, 18 days before Hollins’ contract with Memphis expired… The one rumor on the Kidd-Frank falling out we don’t believe: That Kidd was so upset with Frank’s attempts to undermine him, he offered to pay off the rest of Frank’s $ 6-million contract just to get rid of him… This is some gauntlet of games for the Pacers. Starting Saturday, they had three games in four nights, opening in San Antonio, then going up against Oklahoma City on Sunday, and finally heading back home off a five-game trip to face the Heat for the first time since losing Game 7 of the East Finals… Portland is 8-0 vs. the dreadful East, which has a lot to do with its shocking start. They’ve also had the benefit of playing and beating their toughest foes to date (San Antonio, Indiana and Oklahoma City) on their home court… False alarm, again: We’ve been hearing for the last two weeks that Kobe Bryant is making his season debut any day now. The latest projection: Sunday vs. Toronto, a team Kobe once hung 81 points on…. How bad is the East, compared to the West? Entering Friday’s game vs. Milwaukee, the up-and-coming Wizards were No. 3 in the East, with a 9-9 mark. If they played in the West, where only two teams, Sacramento and Utah, are well below .500, they’d be tied for 10th with the Lakers, Pelicans and Grizzlies.

* * *

SLAM DUNKS …

– Toronto coach Dwane Casey was on the hot seat already. He didn’t need to see his team lose in Golden State after being up by 27 points in the third quarter…. There’s talk that Anthony Bennett, the unproductive No. 1 overall pick last June by the Cavs, might be spending some time down in the D League. Yikes. Teammate Dion Waiters is saying all the right things after a demotion to the bench, but he’s still ticketed for a trade, maybe back home to Philadelphia… Charlotte might miss Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s length and defense for the next six weeks as his broken hand mends, but the Bobcats certainly won’t miss his three-point shooting. In 96 career NBA games, Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick in 2012, has made all of two three-pointers.

– Sacramento’s ultra-talented DeMarcus Cousins has shed his baby fat, is doing a much better job of keeping his composure and has stopped going after opposing teams’ broadcasters. But the Kings’ fourth-year center still loves to talk to the opponent’s bench, especially when he’s the target of trash talk. Which is almost nightly and continues to make him an easy mark… With John Wall making outside shots and finally performing the duties of a point guard better than ever, and Marcin Gortat giving them 13 points, nine rebounds and a physical presence inside each game, the Wizards went 8-8 in November. It’s the first time they had eight wins in that month since 1984. Gortat is a major upgrade from Emeka Okafor, who was traded to Phoenix for Gortat. Okafor has a neck injury and is not in the Suns’ plans, as he is in the final year of his contract.

– Remember when Mark Jackson revealed during his Warriors’ first-round playoff series against Denver that a Nugget player secretly came to him to say he didn’t condone the physical style of play that Denver was using to combat Stephen Curry? George Karl came out this past week and identified the mole as Andre Iguodala, who three months later went to the Warriors as a free agent. That little revelation isn’t going to make Karl any more popular in the Bay Area.

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