The New York Knicks took an interesting approach to their off-season, missing out on big-name free agents and failing to even spark any interest in joining the ranks at The Garden. However, it is important to note that the Knicks are actively rebuilding, specifically through a youth agenda that includes RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and newly acquired draft selections Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley.
The plans for next season are hard to decipher from an outside perspective since the Knicks signed a number of stop-gap players on one-year deals and injected mediocre talent into multiple positions to compete.
They also have similar players in Toppin and Julius Randle, so figuring out how they will play both of them simultaneously is an interesting debate. Nonetheless, new head coach Tom Thibodeau made it clear that he will not be favoring anyone even if it means development minutes for the rookies and youngsters.
This counteracts the entire concept of a rebuild, but it is the way Thibodeau coaches.
New York Knicks’ head coach Tom Thibodeau detailed his approach toward the 2020-21 season:
â€œNothing will be given to anyone,â€™â€™ Thibodeau said on a Zoom interview, via the NY Post. â€œYouâ€™re going to have to earn your minutes. Those decisions on rotation will be based on performance and what gives the team the best chance of winning. A player is not going to get minutes just to get minutes. You have to impact winning, you have to put the team first.â€™â€™
Winning is a cultural aspect, as New York teams have failed to grasp over the last two years. Looking at the New York Giants, they have established a winning culture with a new coach in Joe Judge, Â and the Knicks are attempting to do the very same thing.
Ideally, they can continue to progress upward regarding wins but also get their young players plenty of time on the floor. That all depends on their off-court development and understanding of the system.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot that goes into development,â€™â€™ Thibodeau said. â€œOftentimes people say, well, you have to play them in a game. And you do. But you also have practices, which is where it starts. You have to get that part down first. Then you have to have film study, meetings with your coaches and you also have to have the opportunity to use the G-League.
Thibodeau has coached many teams and reach the playoffs on a number of occasions, so he understands how young players rise through the ranks and earn minutes on the floor. Whether it starts in the G-League or the practice court, they will have to prove themselves first before earning what is rightfully theirs.
â€œThereâ€™s obviously different roads you can go down,â€™â€™ he said. â€œAnd I think if you study it, how teams are built â€” and I went through this in Minnesota â€” the draft is critical, free agency is critical, player development is critical and trade opportunities are critical. And when you look back at Philadelphia and what they went through with a lot of losing, they were able to get [Joel] Embiid and [Ben] Simmons. But when they added veterans, thatâ€™s when they took off.â€
We should expect a very conservative approach with Thibodeau and the Knicks, who will not just inject youth for the sake of development. They have to be sure they are contributing positively on the floor, which is something they havenâ€™t done in recent years.