NBA Rumors: Latest on Tom Thibodeau, Warriors' Draft Plans and More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2020

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts to a call during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

While the timetable for an NBA return remains uncertain, it does appear that one could be on the not-too-distant horizon.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, the league could begin issuing guidelines for a return on June 1. This is great news for teams and fans eager to get to the NBA postseason. It also means that the 2020 offseason will soon follow.

For some, the coming offseason is even more important than the playoffs. Unemployed coach Tom Thibodeau, for example, is hoping it brings him a new job opportunity. According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, he has been seeking input on his next job opportunity.

Those opportunities could include the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets.

"Thibodeau, according to sources, has been canvassing the league and asking which open coaching job will be the best to take," Bondy wrote. "That doesn't mean Thibodeau will be offered each job, but he's culling opinions. The Knicks, Nets and Rockets are among the expected vacancies."

The Chicago Bulls could also be seeking a new head coach by the offseason. According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, Jim Boylen will likely only hold the job until then.

"If there's a resumption of the 2019-20 season for all 30 teams, I think it's more likely than not he coaches those games," Johnson wrote. "Beyond that, I haven't seen any belief or reporting, including mine, that suggests Boylen will be the long-term answer for this regime."

While a return to Chicago would seem unlikely—Thibodeau coached there from 2010 to 2015—if the Bulls enter the coaching market, it could impact his job search.

More available jobs, after all, typically mean more opportunities.


Warriors Eyeing Okongwu

The Golden State Warriors are also far more interested in the offseason than the playoffs. For the first time since the 2011-12 season, they aren't going to make the postseason. In fact, Golden State owns the league's worst record and has a shot at the No. 1 pick in the draft.

While prospects like LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman could interest the Warriors, the team is even more intrigued by USC big man Onyeka Okongwu.

"Believe it or not, the Warriors are actually higher on Southern Cal's Okongwu than James Wiseman," Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote. "If they end up taking a big man in the top five, it'll almost definitely be the 6-foot-9 Okongwu. His game is well-suited for the Warriors' style. Unlike Wiseman, Okongwu can shuttle between multiple positions with ease."

Okongwu, who averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists this past season, could be the missing piece for another Warriors championship team. With teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers using physicality to emerge in the Western Conference. Golden State could use a rim-protector like Okongwu.

Whoever the Warriors select in the draft will be joining a corps that includes a healthy Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins and likely Draymond Green.

Green is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason.


Ball Being Steered Toward Knicks?

If the Warriors opt not to add a big man—or instead target one in free agency—then Ball could be on their radar. Perhaps the most intriguing prospect in this draft, his ability to score and create opportunities would make him a nice fit for Golden State's second team.

However, he may already have a destination lined up.

"Some league sources believe the Ball camp will try to steer the 18-year-old point guard to the Knicks, though such a maneuver will seem difficult if Leon Rose's club doesn't rise into the top four in the lottery," Marc Berman of the New York Post wrote.

While trying to force a destination in the draft is easier in practice than in theory, it isn't impossible. The willingness to play for a franchise—or the lack thereof—can go a long way. However, as Berman pointed out, the Knicks would first have to secure a lottery pick.

New York currently owns the sixth-worst record in the NBA.