Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Wednesday afternoon that the Knicks are expected to start their head coaching search “soon” and that Tom Thibodeau is their top target.
Thibodeau has been out of coaching since he was fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves in January of 2019. The firing came just a few months after some very public internal drama with Jimmy Butler which led to the All-Star wing being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. Although Thibodeau’s time with the Timberwolves wasn’t exactly a success, he did manage to lead Minnesota to their only playoff appearance since 2004.
Thibs has a 352-246 career record with a .589 winning percentage. He only has one season in his coaching career where his team finished with a winning percentage under .500 (excluding his last season with Minnesota in which the the Timberwolves were 19-21 at the time of his firing). The Knicks have not finished over .500 since 2013. In his first season as a head coach, Thibodeau led the Bulls to 62 wins and Derrick Rose to an MVP win, but the team lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Despite Thibodeau’s on-court success, he has a reputation for overworking his players. His stars routinely finish near the top of the league in minutes played and he does not seem to adhere to the notion that load management is beneficial to both athletes and teams. Some even blame Thibodeau for Derrick Rose’s ACL tear in 2012, saying his workload contributed significantly to the catastrophic injury that derailed his career.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported in early May that the Rockets and Nets are also interested in Thibodeau. The Rockets are currently in a contract dispute with head coach Mike D’Antoni, who’s deal expires after this season. The Knicks haven’t had a head coach last at least three full seasons since Mike D’Antoni resigned in 2012.
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