Tom Thibodeau, a former New York Knicks assistant coach from 1996-2004, has emerged as the favorite to become the team’s next head coach. On Thursday, he had the chance to make his case officially, as he formally interviewed for the job, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Thibodeau hasn’t coached since he was fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves in January of 2019 after the team failed to make substantial progress during his two-plus seasons as their coach and general manager. However, his stock around the league remained relatively high, thanks largely to his reputation as an excellent defensive mind. In addition to the Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets are also reportedly interested in Thibodeau.
Thibodeau isn’t the only candidate on the Knicks’ radar. Kenny Atkinson, who was fired by the Nets in March, is expected to get an interview, according to Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov. Knicks interim head coach Mike Miller, who took over after David FIzdale was fired in December, is also expected to get an interview. Former Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd is also a potential target thanks in part to his strong relationship with impending 2021 free agent Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom the Knicks will surely target.
Whoever ultimately gets the job will be tasked with molding a young roster that includes RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox and in turn leading the Knicks back to perennial contention in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks would reportedly like to make a decision regarding their next head coach in the next few weeks. Whoever does land the job will have a higher lottery pick to work with as well. The Knicks are currently slated to have the sixth-best odds in the NBA Draft Lottery.
In February, the Knicks parted way with Steve Mills after seven years as president of the organization. At the time, Scott Perry took over basketball operations for New York on an interim basis. Then in early March, former CAA agent Leon Rose was officially named the Knicks’ new president. After taking the job, Rose asked Knicks fans for patience as he tries to help the team climb back to contention.
“Our team has young talent, significant future assets [including seven first-round picks over the next four years] and an ample amount of financial flexibility in the coming years,” Rose said. “Everyone — from ownership to athletes to staff and especially our fans — wants this team to be a winner. We will have all the resources necessary to create a great organization — one that supports our efforts to build a winning culture and gives Knicks fans, and the city of New York, the team you deserve.”
When it comes to coaches, the Knicks haven’t had much luck recently. Since 2012, they have shuffled through seven different coaches, and they only have one playoff series victory to show for it. With Rose now calling the shots, the organization will look to turn around their luck in that department with their next hire.