Knicks Rumors: Johnnie Bryant Hired as Assistant Coach on Tom Thibodeau's Staff

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2020

James Dolan, executive chairman of  Madison Square Garden, sits at a news conference next to the team logo where he introduced Phil Jackson as the new president of the New York Knicks, Tuesday, March 18, 2014 in New York. Jackson, who won two NBA titles as a player for the New York Knicks, also won 11 championships while coaching the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The New York Knicks reportedly have hired Utah Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant to serve as an associate head coach under new head coach Tom Thibodeau, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. 

Steve Popper of Newsday added more context to the reported hire:

Steve Popper @StevePopper

Bryant is still under contract with the Jazz and will continue to work with the team through the playoffs.

Bryant carved out an important role for the Jazz during his time on Quin Snyder's staff and is "renowned for his player development," according to Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune, who added it was a "a big loss for Utah."

Jazz radio announcer David Locke added that "from a basketball aspect this is significant. Johnnie is great at what he does. He has a great relationship with Donovan [Mitchell] and he is a great skill teacher. Developing and losing talent is hard if it is a coach or player your organization has invested in."

Mitchell chimed in on Instagram after the news broke (h/t Daily Knicks):

Daily Knicks @DailyKnicksFS

Donovan Mitchell on his IG account following the news of Johnnie Bryant leaving for the Knicks “What’s understood doesn’t need to be explained! Love always! Now before you go we got some shit to handle first!” https://t.co/pgcnWyauUd https://t.co/EXLXBeYcQ0

"He's really intense, but he's laid back at the same time—he's always got something to say," Mitchell said in 2018, per the Salt Lake Tribune. "I work as hard as I possibly can to shut him up."

Bryant's player development background will be important for a Knicks team with a lot of young talent, including RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, among others. Those players are the future of the organization, and getting the most out of their upside will be key for a Knicks team that has been mired in mediocrity for years. 

Bryant's work ethic also impressed Mitchell. 

"I watch film a lot, but I've never met someone who watches it more than me," he added in 2018. "He's always trying to find ways to get guys better and find little tweaks to improve your game."