NBA Rumors: Analyzing Latest Buzz on Tom Thibodeau, Jayson Tatum, More

Martin FennContributor IIIJune 30, 2020

Minnesota Timberwolves' head coach Tom Thibodeau calls out to his team during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 108-86. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

The New York Knicks are in still in the throes of their head coaching search, but all indications are their top target remains the same.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Tom Thibodeau is still regarded as the favorite to land the Knicks job, though he added New York is doing its "due diligence" on former head coaches such as Mike Brown, Mike Woodson and Jason Kidd, among others.

Thibodeau has seemingly been in the driver's seat for some time now, though. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported in May the job was "Thibodeau's to lose" and the 62-year-old had already begun making calls to prospective staff members.

The former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach has not manned the bench since being dismissed by the Timberwolves 40 games through the 2018-19 season. However, he told Frank Isola of The Athletic in March he wanted to return to coaching.

New York would pose a different sort of challenge for Thibodeau. In Chicago and Minnesota, he inherited teams boasting young superstars such as Derrick Rose and Karl-Anthony Towns. Though the Knicks might be hoping R.J. Barrett can eventually reach "superstar" status, he is coming off a season in which he shot barely over 40 percent from the field while being a major liability on the defensive end.

Moreover, the Knicks are a franchise in the middle of a major transition. Leon Rose has taken over as the new president of basketball operations, and his hiring of Creative Artists Agency consultant William Wesley has garnered plenty of criticism

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New York will once again have a top pick in the upcoming draft, and perhaps hiring an experienced coach such as Thibodeau would set it up to sign big-name free agents in the future. Alternatively, there is a chance his hard-driving style could alienate some of the younger players on the roster.

In any case, the Knicks look to be angling toward hiring Thibodeau as their next head coach.

           

Jayson Tatum Leaning Toward Max Extension

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics faced an interesting dilemma this past offseason with respect to fourth-year swingman Jaylen Brown.

The 23-year-old was coming off three productive (though somewhat unspectacular) years in the NBA, but the Celtics had to decide whether his play merited a max contract extension.

Ultimately, the two sides came to terms on a four-year extension worth $115 million. The decision has paid off in spades, as Brown was averaging career highs in points (20.4) and rebounds (6.4) while shooting over 38 percent from beyond the arc in his first 50 games.

The Celtics have another youngster due for an extension this summer in Jayson Tatum. Given his outstanding play, though, this decision might be less complicated.

He made his first All-Star team this season, averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. He was particularly dominant after the All-Star break, averaging 29.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists to go along with a 60.2 percent true shooting mark, per Basketball Reference.

The former Duke star is no slouch on the defensive end, either. He ranks sixth in defensive win shares among all qualifiers, per NBA.com.

Given his tremendous progression, Tatum might have an even larger market if he opted to play out his contract until he reaches restricted free agency in 2021. However, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reported he is leaning toward signing a max extension this summer in order to secure financial security for the future.

Indeed, the former No. 3 overall pick was one of five young players who spoke with National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts about insurance allowances in advance of potential contract extensions, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Celtics surely would have little problem with Tatum taking a max extension now. At just 22 years old, he has already become one of the best two-way swingmen in basketball and a franchise cornerstone. 

              

'Several' Teams Interested in Lance Thomas

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Numerous teams have used the NBA's one-week transaction window to address roster needs ahead of the league restart in Orlando, Florida in late July.

The Los Angeles Clippers finalized terms with veteran big man Joakim Noah, while the crosstown rival Lakers are reuniting LeBron James with former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate JR Smith, per Marc Stein of the New York Times. But another, less heralded vet is also garnering some interest.

Ian Begley and Alex Smith of SNY.tv reported "several" teams are interested in big man Lance Thomas, who last played with the New York Knicks.

The 32-year-old appeared in 46 games for the Knicks last year, averaging 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds on 17 minutes per game. He was signed by the Brooklyn Nets in September but promptly waived before the season began.

The former Duke standout was mostly a paint-bound player during his time with the Blue Devils but has since adapted his game to become more of a stretch big in the past few years.

Thomas shot 38.5 percent from beyond the arc on 1.6 attempts per game in five seasons with the Knicks. While it is a small sample size, the numbers hint at his versatility and potential value as a role player.

Perhaps the Nets would consider bringing Thomas back, particularly after center DeAndre Jordan announced he was opting out of the restart.

          

All stats obtained via Basketball Reference, unless otherwise noted.

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