Although some fans will be upset if the Knicks coach’s quest ends with hiring Tom Thibodeau, the truth is that Thibs started in New York, has a solid reputation and is considered one of the toughest workers in basketball.
Leon Rose has quietly remodeled the front office since hiring the Knicks in March, but it’s no secret that his biggest primary decision is to hire a coach. Rose seems to understand the weight of that responsibility, as the Knicks have interviewed an entire list of basketball candidates, from Kenny Atkinson to Jason Kidd.
Thibs has been the alleged front runner for a while, and at this point it would be surprising if he hadn’t nodded. The search for coaching is probably running out, so an ad may arrive earlier than you think.
Hiring Thibodeau would not be a repeat of mistakes from the recent past. In fact, it may be the right decision.
Tom Thibodeau was an assistant coach with the Knicks for seven seasons between 1996 and 2004, which meant that Thibs was there when the team unlikely made the 1999-00 finals.
He saw the Allan Houston runner fall gently into the net to beat the Miami Heat. He witnessed the outbreak of Madison Square Garden when Larry Johnson nailed that four-point game against the Indiana Pacers. He knows what it’s like to be part of MSG’s home team when the times are good.
Thibodeau’s stock declined after he failed to create a competitor in Minnesota, but his .475 payout percentage with the Timberwolves is much better than each of the last five Knicks coaches. In an interesting twist, Mike Woodson is the newest Knicks manager to post a higher payout percentage at 0.580. Overall, Thibodeau boasts a better career win percentage, beating Woody from .589 to .463.
Thibodeau’s bulls were a force of nature, and while Derrick Rose was obviously a driving force in the offensive part, Thibs’s impact cannot be discounted. Many players have made a career out of being part of Thibodeau’s Bulls: Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah to name a few, and Taj Gibson, Omer Asik and Kirk Hinrich to name a few.
The Bulls won nine playoff games in the first season of Thibodeau at the helm in 2010-11 before being knocked out in the Eastern Conference Finals by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Miami Heat. The Knicks have won nine total games since the season since the finals of ’99.
Overall, Thibodeau has coached 56 games in the playoffs and has been out of the first round three times in the past decade, including the appearance of the Eastern Conference finals against Heat’s Big Three. The Knicks appeared in 21 total playoffs in the same period and only left the first round once.