When Tom Thibodeau was in Minnesota, he is said to have been in love with New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. prior to the 2017 NBA Draft, according to SNY.
Minnesota ended up using the seventh overall pick in that draft to trade with Jimmy Butler. Smith Jr. later went to Dallas, a pick after the Knicks took over Frank Ntilikina.
Thibodeau will have the option to coach both Ntilikina and Smith Jr. while taking on the role of head coach of the Knicks, though some have speculated that both players may be elsewhere before next season starts, whenever reality should be given. of the pandemic.
When David Fizdale was hired as the Knicks head coach in 2018, he targeted another struggling former lottery winner during his press conference, putting his arm around Emmanuel Mudiay, who has played some of his best basketball, too. if on a smaller scale, under the former New York bench boss.
It will be interesting to see if Thibodeau’s interest in Smith Jr. has continued since the young guard stepped into the league and struggled to translate his enticing athleticism into positive NBA results.
The North Carolina state product has one year remaining on its rookie contract. The Knicks may offer him an extension before the season starts, but it seems more likely they will offer it in swaps than trying to sign him for more years.
Arriving in Kristaps Porzingis’ craft in February 2019, Smith Jr. has regressed from an already mediocre start to his career. Last season was his worst as a pro, as he struggled to shoot basketball while battling personal problems and several injuries.