The New York Knicks and new president Leon Rose have finally come to a decision on their new head coach after a thorough and diligent process that lasted weeks. They interviewed about a dozen candidates multiple times for the job, but in the end the Knicks went with the guy who had been considered the favorite since the day Rose was hired:
The New York Knicks and Tom Thibodeau are finalizing a five-year deal to make him the franchise’s next coach, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 25, 2020
Despite Tom Thibodeau, 62, being the most likely candidate due to his strong relationships with Rose and Knicks new executive Vice President William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, rumors started swirling in recent days about the Knicks and Thibodeau running into problems over contract discussions and Jason Kidd becoming the new favorite for the job. Fortunately those reports either ended up being false or the two sides were able to come to an agreement, because Thibodeau is the new leader of the pack.
Thibodeau has a great head coaching résumé, having coached the Chicago Bulls for five seasons and then Minnesota Timberwolves for two and a half seasons. He has a total win-loss record of 352-246 which gives him a .589 winning percentage. That ranks him 11th in NBA history in winning percentage among coaches who have coached at least 500 games.
Thibodeau has a total of six playoff appearances, five with the Bulls and one with the Timberwolves. He led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 after finishing 62-20 in the regular season, and they were widely considered title favorites that year until injuries to point guard Derrick Rose, who won the MVP that year, derailed their championship aspirations.
Having a head coach who brings plenty of playoff experience and knows how to get a team there is exactly the kind of direction this young Knicks team needs. Thibodeau also isn’t new to the team he will now officially be coaching, as he was an assistant coach for the Knicks for seven seasons under Jeff Van Gundy. So not only does Thibodeau have some familiarity with the Knicks and the New York market, he also knows what it was like when the Knicks were good. Under Van Gundy the Knicks were a powerhouse and a perennial playoff team, even making it to the NBA Finals in 1998-99, and Thibodeau was there for pretty much that whole era. Thibodeau later made the Finals twice as an assistant for the Boston Celtics under Doc Rivers, having won it all with them in 2007-08 before eventually becoming a head coach.
Thibodeau is a widely respected around basketball and has been around the game for a very long time. He is known as an elite defensive mind who is also good at developing players and getting the most out of his guys. He is also extremely hard-working and passionate about the game. He does have a bit of a reputation for overworking his players and being a too tough at times, but he has reportedly been studying the changes to the game since he’s been out of coaching and learning from what went wrong in his past experiences in order to properly adjust his coaching style.
At the end of the day, Knick fans can only hope for the best. They’ve been down this road countless times before and can only pray that Thibodeau is the head coach that finally sticks around longer than two years and leads the Knicks back to contention. He may not be perfect, but Thibodeau is a strong hire who has the track record and work ethic that you look for in a head coach. He is a leader and a proven winner, and he should have great camaraderie with the front office.
Now that the head coaching decision has been made, it will be very interesting to see who is brought in to fill out Thibodeau’s coaching staff. Knicks interim head coach Mike Miller and former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson are two names that interviewed for the current head coaching position and have been heavily linked to possible assistant coaching spots if they didn’t get the job. Once the staff is put together, Thibodeau and the Knicks will turn their full attention towards preparing for free agency and the NBA Draft.
There is still a lot of work ahead for the Knicks in the coming months, but they have gotten off to a good start and now they have tackled one of their most important tasks with a big-time hire.