Knicks Rumors: Latest Buzz on Tom Thibodeau, NY's Coaching Search

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 22, 2020

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 30:  Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 30, 2018 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The New York Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale and named Mike Miller as his replacement on an interim basis Dec. 6.

They were off to a 4-18 start under Fizdale and went 17-27 under Miller before the NBA suspended the 2019-20 campaign March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to SNY's Ian Begley on Thursday, New York will either move forward with Miller or bring in Tom Thibodeau:

"Last month, agents and other coaches with a vested interest in the Knicks' coaching search said they believed Thibodeau is the most likely hire if [Knicks president Leon] Rose decides not to retain Miller. Rose and Thibodeau have a close relationship. ...

"Rose and the Knicks haven't started the interview process yet. That will likely be on hold until the NBA regular season concludes or is canceled."

Thibodeau has been linked to the Knicks since at least April:

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

The Nets' process to name a full-time replacement for Kenny Atkinson is not expected to hit top speed until this season is either completed or canceled, but they have been collecting names and, at this juncture, Tom Thibodeau is believed to be solely a Knicks candidate

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported May 4 that Thibodeau will garner "strong interest" from the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets as well. However, Begley also reported Thursday, "People with knowledge of Thibodeau's past thinking believe that he'd put the Knicks at the top of his list if multiple teams pursue him."

Thibodeau joined ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski for a recent episode of The Woj Pod and disclosed a renewed perspective on what it means to be a head coach and what he would bring to the Knicks or any team he lands with next (h/t Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News):

"When you have people that are smart and have character and work well together, good things can come out of that. You want to share the same value system. Every situation there's going to be challenge. When I went to Chicago, basically it was a .500 team. I went to Minnesota, it was a rebuilding team. I've been through highs, been through lows. All those experiences have helped me."

The 62-year-old served as the Chicago Bulls head coach from 2010 through 2015, leading to the team to a 255-139 record and five straight playoff appearances—making it as far as the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.

The Minnesota Timberwolves hired Thibodeau as head coach and president of basketball operations in April 2016, but he told Wojnarowski that he would not be interested in handling both roles for a franchise again. The Timberwolves were 97-107 under Thibodeau with just one postseason appearance, which ended in the first round (2017-18).

The T-Wolves fired Thibodeau in January 2019.

Should Thibodeau be named the Knicks' next head coach, he would presumably draw heavily from the lessons he learned with a rebuilding Minnesota. There is no team more deeply enveloped in the rebuilding process than New York.

Shortly after Fizdale was let go, the Knicks fired longtime president Steve Mills on Feb. 4. Rose was hired as his replacement March 2. The Knicks have not made the postseason since 2013 and have posted seven straight losing records since—including a league-worst 17-65 mark last season.