NBA Rumors: Latest Rumblings on Tom Thibodeau, Knicks Front-Office Hires

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 21, 2020

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau smiles in the waning moments as his team defeats the Orlando Magic in an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 4, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Even though the New York Knicks haven't been a factor in the NBA playoff race all season, the organization has found ways to keep itself in the news with multiple changes between the front office and coaching staff already. 

The biggest change came on March 2 when Leon Rose took over as team president. The former player agent replaced Steve Mills, who led the Knicks to a 46-118 record in his first two seasons after replacing Phil Jackson in July 2017. 

As the Knicks continue to build their front office and coaching staff, here are the latest rumors about their potential plans. 


Tom Thibodeau Looking into Multiple Teams

The Knicks could have a head coaching vacancy if they choose not to bring back interim Mike Miller after this season. 

Miller took over when David Fizdale was fired on Dec. 6 after a 4-18 start. The Knicks have fared better under Miller's watch, though their 17-27 record isn't anything to brag about. 

Per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Tom Thibodeau is believed to be a coaching candidate for New York. 

One potential wrench that could be thrown into the Knicks' plan is Bondy noting that Thibodeau "has been canvassing the league and asking which open coaching job will be the best to take."

Marc Berman of the New York Post previously reported that Thibodeau will receive "strong interest" from the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets

The Nets have already put themselves in the coaching market when they agreed to a mutual parting with Kenny Atkinson in March.

Mike D'Antoni is still with the Rockets, but his status with the organization beyond this season is uncertain after the two sides couldn't agree on a contract extension last offseason. 

Appearing on The Athletic's Brodie and The Beard podcast (h/t Reuters) earlier this month, Sam Amick noted D'Antoni and the Rockets have hit a point where they are "mutually agreeing to make the best of the time they have together" before parting ways after this season. 

Thibodeau will be looking to rebuild his reputation after a difficult end to his tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The 62-year-old was fired midway through the 2018-19 season amid criticism from players, including Karl-Anthony Towns, about his coaching style.

There was a time when Thibodeau was regarded as one of the NBA's best coaches. He made the playoffs in each of his five seasons with the Chicago Bulls from 2010-15, including an appearance in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals. He was an assistant on the Boston Celtics' 2008 NBA championship team and is an assistant on the U.S. men's national team.

The Knicks have posted losing records in seven consecutive seasons, including a 21-45 mark in 2019-20. 


Knicks Reportedly Hire New Assistant GMs

One move Rose has been able to make, according to SNY's Ian Begley, is bringing in Walt Perrin and Frank Zanin as assistant general managers. 

Begley noted that Perrin will oversee college scouting while Zanin will be in charge of the Knicks' pro personnel. 

Perrin has spent the past 19 years working as the vice president of player personnel for the Utah Jazz, with Begley writing he had a hand in the team drafting Gordon Hayward, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. 

Zanin has been a pro scout for the Oklahoma City Thunder since October 2016. He previously worked as an assistant general manager for the Nets from 2013-16. 

One opposing scout who spoke to Begley had high praise for Zanin: "If (Thunder general manager Sam) Presti hires you, it says something (about your ability)."

A big reason the Knicks have struggled for so many years is their poor track record in player development. Kristaps Porzingis, who is now a member of the Dallas Mavericks, is the only drafted player who made the All-Star team (2018) as a member of the organization since David Lee (2010). 

Bringing in people with strong development track records is the first step for Rose to make the Knicks relevant in the Eastern Conference after a long fallow period.