Morning Knicks 7/27: Knicks Hire Tom Thibodeau, Could Practice in August, and More
-ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Tom Thibodeau has been named the next head coach of the New York Knicks. The former Knicks' assistant agreed to a five-year deal to be captain of Leon Rose's ship. Thibodeau was a runaway favorite for the job from the start, partially due to his relationship with Rose, and he will be the Knicks' coach for the foreseeable future. Thibodeau brings a track record of success, a hard-working attitude, and hopefully some stability given the length of his contract. Despite negotiations possibly breaking down and a late push by Jason Kidd, Rose got his guy. You can read all about the hiring from our own Kris Pursiainen. You can also check out articles about the monumental move from The Athletic's Mike Vorkunov, The New York Post's Marc Berman, Newsday's Steve Popper, and SNY's Ian Begley.
There were some other interesting reports and comments that came out about the Knicks' head coaching search coming to an end. Newsday's Steve Popper expects Mike Miller to stay with the Knicks and for Mike Woodson to potentially become an assistant on Thibodeau's staff. Our own Jonathan Macri said hiring Kenny Atkinson as an assistant is a long shot. Wojnarowski also reported that the Mavericks' Jamahl Mosley and the Spurs' Will Hardy made strong impressions on the Knicks' front office. Jeff Van Gundy was ecstatic over the Thibodeau hire, both for his former assistant and for the Knicks organization. Even Gregg Popovich praised the hire, despite two of his assistants being candidates. Marc Berman of The New York Post reported the Knicks are thinking of the hire of Thibodeau like that of Tom Coughlin for the New York Giants. There is clearly a lot of buzz about the Knicks' head coaching search as it wraps up.
-According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, the NBA is working on a plan that would soon allow the eight teams that are not in the NBA's restart to hold practices at their home facilities and possibly eventually scrimmage. The Knicks have been against most "Delete Eight" ideas, as they look to stay healthy and not risk injury to young players or upcoming free agents. However, Tom Thibodeau may want to get his squad in the gym soon to at least begin practicing some time in August.
-The Knicks' experiment of playing two big men last season was largely a failure. In the modern NBA, having players who can play multiple positions, space the floor, and handle the ball make it much easier to build winning lineups. It's time for the Knicks to step into the present. Our own Jonathan Macri wrote about prioritizing flexibility, what the Knicks can do to develop a more versatile team, and whether their new coach may be on board. Macri highlighted some great examples of this versatility from teams we're currently seeing in the NBA's restart.
-The state of New York seems to be watching Zach LaVine. SNY's Ian Begley reported that both the Knicks and Nets are "keeping an eye" on the Bulls' guard and monitoring his situation in Chicago in case a potential trade opportunity arrives. This falls in line with the idea that Leon Rose will want to make his move for a star player instead of waiting for one to come to him or rebuilding the team slowly.
LaVine is a stellar offensive player who took on a massive workload in Chicago. There's no doubting his ability to score. Unfortunately, he's also a terrible defender, and paying up for a star that simply does not play on one end of the floor would severely hamper Rose's ability to build a winning team. While it's understandable the front office may not want to tank, patience is key. If the Knicks trade for or sign a flawed player as their "star," it would be more of the same mistakes of the past.
-It's no secret the Knicks are in the market for a shooting big man. Our own Kris Pusiainen has one in mind. Kris continued his 2020 NBA Draft scouting reports with Maryland's Jalen Smith, a big who made nearly 37% of his three-point attempts last season. Not only can Smith shoot, but he also has the ability to protect the rim. Kris explains how a player like Smith could be a nice acquisition for the Knicks.
In addition to a shooting big man, the Knicks are in desperate need of a point guard. While that hole may be filled with the Knicks' lottery pick, drafting another floor general later in the draft may not be a bad idea. Nico Mannion is a player who came into the season with a lot of hype, but his athletic shortcomings and struggles getting to the rim hurt his stock. It's possible the Knicks could scoop him up later on and add a super smart passer to their backcourt. Kris wrote about the former Arizona Wildcat and whether Knicks fans should want him.