The New York Knicks have hired Tom Thibodeau as their new head coach, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Tom Thibodeau used to be an assistant to Jeff Van Gundy with the New York Knicks from 1996-2003, including their improbable NBA Finals appearance in 1999. He then moved with Van Gundy to the Houston Rockets, playing a large coaching role on a playoff contender led by Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.
His final stop as an assistant came in Boston, where he constructed a defensive scheme that helped the Celtics win a championship in his first year with the team.
In 2010, Thibodeau took a job as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls had gone 41-41 the previous year but amassed 62 wins in his first season patrolling the sidelines. Thibodeau would then go on to have a 255-139 record in five seasons with Chicago, a winning percentage of .647.
He helped turn promising rookie Derrick Rose into a legitimate superstar as his star point guard became the youngest MVP in NBA history during his tenure. However, some questions remained about his distribution of minutes.
Starters on Thibodeau-led teams would regularly lead the league in minutes per game, and injuries were much more common. Rose struggled with injuries after his MVP season, having multiple knee surgeries which led people to question Thibodeau’s coaching style.
These questions grew louder after he accepted the Minnesota Timberwolves job in 2016, acting as head coach and general manager. After one season, Thibodeau brought in Jimmy Butler in a trade as well as many of his former Bulls players.
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The team excelled that second year, winning 47 games and making the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference. The euphoria was short-lived, as a certain team practice went down in infamy. Butler was then traded before the start of the next season, and Thibodeau was fired after the team started 19-21. (Interestingly, the Timberwolves have had a record of 36-70 since he was let go)
Now in New York, Tom Thibodeau will be inheriting a very young and unproven team. The Knicks have young, willing defenders such as Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina. They also have former third overall pick RJ Barrett, who showed the potential to be a 20+ ppg scorer in his rookie season. The team also has seven first-round picks over the next four years.
It is currently unknown whether Team President Leon Rose wants to slowly rebuild or make moves to try and become a contender. Hiring Thibodeau looks like a move to win-now, but he’s also shown an ability to help young players realize their potential.
The NBA Draft and free agency are still months away, but one thing is now clear: The New York Knicks have their new leader.