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Thibs in Trouble? Do Knicks Need NBA Playoffs for Coach to Keep Job?

Some Knicks watchers might suggest that the organization's long-standing struggles are the responsibility of people well above Thibodeau's pay grade. But there sits the "hot seat.''
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The New York Knicks, at some point, need to make a leap. It is obviously not the fault of present coach Tom Thibodeau that the club has made the NBA playoffs just four times since the start of the 2004-05 season - and indeed, since the start of the 2013-14 season, they've qualified for the postseason just once ...

And that was with Thibodeau at the helm in his first season as the head coach of the team.

So is a "hot seat'' awaiting the coach, who oversaw a team that fell short again last year and now in theory has an updated and upgraded roster?

“I think the baseline should be an improvement from last season,” said Knicks beat writer Stefon Bondy on a recent HoopsHype Podcast. "If they’re struggling like they did last season, I think Tom Thibodeau’s in trouble.''

Some Knicks watchers might suggest that the organization's long-standing struggles are the responsibility of people well above Thibodeau's pay grade.

But it is true that there is a sense of optimism now, in some circles, the Knicks having done something right in the offseason additions of Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein ... even as there is some massive disappointment in the "done deal'' of acquiring Donovan Mitchell never did get done.

An issue for Thibs for certain: Look at the NBA East and try to find all the teams that New York should rightfully be judged to be able to leap over.

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The Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks seem to sit atop the conference. The Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers (now with Mitchell) might all be better.

That's nine contenders or semi-contenders.

Does New York really fit somewhere in there? And if the answer is "no,'' is changing out the head coach again - the Knicks in Thibodeau now employ their eighth different acting head coach in a decade - going to fix anything?

Bondy is surely right, no matter what, when he notes of an unsuccessful team, “It’s always the coach that’s the first one to go.”

But that is different than failure actually being Tom Thibodeau's fault.

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