Knicks’ Josh Hart refutes ‘idiotic’ claim that Tom Thibodeau is to blame for team’s injuries

Dec 5, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau talks with New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) on the sideline against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has received loads of criticism this week over his minutes distribution with the roster, most notably former NBA player Chandler Parsons publicly blaming Thibodeau for the team’s injury issues this season.

Josh Hart defends Tom Thibodeau

Dec 5, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau gestures towards New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) on the sideline against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau gestures towards New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) on the sideline against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

“This is why that players poll came out with guys that don’t want to play for [Tom Thibodeau], because it doesn’t last, you can’t sustain it in such a long season,” said Parsons on FanDuel TV’s Run It Back.

Knicks forward Josh Hart came to Thibodeau’s defense in light of recent comments surrounding his head coach Tuesday before a pivotal Game 5 against the Pacers at Madison Square Garden.

“It’s idiotic to put that on him… people are gonna say things for clicks… if they’re not in this building or in this locker room, whatever they say, it doesn’t mean anything,” said Hart to reporters (h/t New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield).

Thibodeau’s past still haunts him

NBA: Utah Jazz at New York Knicks
Jan 30, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball fans who were around for Thibodeau’s tenure as head coach of the Chicago Bulls most certainly remember the infamous Derrick Rose career-altering injury that many blamed Thibodeau for keeping the MVP in a game that was essentially already decided. Those fans seem to have not forgotten about that, which is likely why he has once again been at the forefront of an injury situation. However, this is a unique situation that the Knicks are dealing with.

The Knicks have dealt with a multitude of injuries lately, with Jalen Brunson playing through a foot injury, and OG Anunoby dealing with a hamstring strain. Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Mitchell Robinson have all already been ruled out for the remainder of the postseason. Pretty much all those injuries are not the result of playing an extended stretch of minutes and were rather unfortunate injuries that come with playing a high-contact sport.

The Knicks are running out of reliable options

May 10, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) reacts to a made basket during game three of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
May 10, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) reacts to a made basket during game three of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The dreadful situation has made Thibodeau’s rotation extremely thin, which has caused players like Hart to play nearly the entire game for a majority of the playoffs thus far. Signs of fatigue really began to show in Game 4, when the Knicks were pummeled by the Pacers to a score of 121-89.

Alec Burks and Precious Achiuwa, two guys who were out of the rotation entering the playoffs, are now the team’s only bench players. The rest of the remaining players available are all guys who have been out of the rotation for months, which is why Thibodeau has been reluctant to use them in crucial playoff games.

Until Anunoby returns, the Knicks will essentially be running a seven-man rotation, as it is highly unlikely that Thibodeau empties his bench further to expand the rotation. It’s an unfortunate situation that they are dealing with, but this team has displayed strength and resilience through adversity all season.

The series is currently tied 2-2, and the Knicks still have the home-court advantage. The focus will be to get through the series with the group they currently have available, and hope that with time they can get a little healthier for the next round if they advance.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: