Report: Nets, Rockets to Have Strong Interest in Tom Thibodeau Amid Knicks Buzz

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2020

Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau argues a call during the first quarter of the team's NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Multiple teams are reportedly interested in bringing former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau back to the sidelines.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets "will have strong interest" in the coach. Berman noted Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni is set to be a free agent following the season.

This comes after a February report from Berman revealing Thibodeau would be on New York Knicks President Leon Rose's short list of potential coaching candidates, assuming they don't keep interim coach Mike Miller.

Thibodeau is well known for his ability to coach defense, but there were some issues with his previous two stops.

His Bulls teams never quite reached their full potential as championship contenders in large part because of injuries, especially to star point guard Derrick Rose. The coach was widely criticized for how many minutes he played some of the players during the regular season, which could have contributed to bodies breaking down come playoff time.

Berman also pointed out he "clashed with Bulls management on the way out" and had a falling out with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins as the head coach of the Timberwolves. Towns even said the way he handled young players was "a disrespect and a slap in the face to their development."

Still, he was also largely successful when it came to wins and losses.

He finished with a 255-139 mark during five seasons with the Bulls, advancing as far as the Eastern Conference Finals. It is not an unreasonable stretch to suggest Chicago could have won a championship with Thibodeau on the sidelines if Rose had stayed healthy and continued developing from his league MVP status.

The coach was just 97-107 in Minnesota but led the team to its only playoff appearance since the 2003-04 season.

The Knicks are in need of a quick turnaround as one of the league's marquee franchises that hasn't been to the playoffs since the 2012-13 season. They were well on the way to winning fewer than 30 games for the third straight season when play was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Houston has been far more successful of late and will participate in its eighth straight playoffs if and when play resumes, but it is yet to advance past the Western Conference Finals in that stretch.

Brooklyn hasn't won a playoff series since the 2013-14 season, and Thibodeau reportedly has the support of its two key players with Berman noting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving respect the coach, who was an assistant for Team USA when they represented their country.

"Kevin's a basketball junkie, he loves him," one NBA source told Berman. "Great players want to be coached, except the lazy ones. If they think the coach has a higher basketball IQ than them, they're all in."

It seems as if multiple teams could be all-in when it comes to convincing Thibodeau to return to coaching.