Woj: Tom Thibodeau 'Safe' as Knicks Head Coach, Won't Be Fired After Season Ends

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 5, 2022

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau directs his players on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
AP Photo/John Raoux

The New York Knicks have been among the most disappointing teams in the league this season, but head coach Tom Thibodeau reportedly will not be fired as a result.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said Thibodeau is "safe" in his role for the 2022-23 campaign during Tuesday's episode of NBA Countdown:

"People have speculated about the Knicks and Tom Thibodeau, who was just Coach of the Year last year. I'm told he is safe in New York. He's got the support of ownership, Leon Rose the GM, and largely the locker room—the important players in the locker room. And one more thing, I'm told: He signed an original five-year deal to be coach of the Knicks. The fifth year was a team option, wasn't guaranteed. I'm told that the Knicks picked up that fifth year over the summer after he won Coach of the Year"

Expectations were high in New York after it finished with the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and battled the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs.

After all, its roster picked up key postseason experience and had Julius Randle and RJ Barrett returning. The second round seemed like a reasonable goal, especially given the raucous crowds that showed up at Madison Square Garden.

So much for that.

New York is 35-44 and eliminated from contention for the play-in tournament for the Nos. 7-10 seeds. Instead, it is battling for draft position and will go another season since its last playoff series win during the 2012-13 campaign.

It seemed as if Thibodeau was in charge of an impressive turnaround when the Knicks made the playoffs in his first season at the helm in 2020-21. It was their first postseason appearance since that 2012-13 season, and there were enough young pieces in place to feel optimistic about the immediate future.

Yet New York was unable to take the next step, even though Barrett has shown flashes of his potential while scoring a career-best 20.1 points per game in his third season.

Randle has taken something of a step back and is averaging 20.1 points per game on 41.1 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent shooting from deep after he was an All-NBA second team selection last season while averaging 24.1 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting from the field and 41.1 percent shooting from deep.

Whether he can return to form in 2022-23 will be key, and it appears as if he will have the same coach on the sidelines despite this season's struggles.