Hiring Tom Thibodeau Would Be the (Dumbest) Most New York Knicks Move Ever…

Photo: Jonathan Daniel | Credit: Getty Images

Earlier this week, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau is in the running for the New York Knicks vacant head coaching position. Other candidates for the job include current interim-head coach Mike Miller and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

Thibodeau has been a head coach for a total of 7 ½ years — 5 with the Chicago Bulls and 2 ½ with the Timberwolves. During those years, he made the playoffs six times. Not bad, huh? Must be a good coach.

Eh. Not really.


Past Transgressions

However, anyone who watched the Timberwolves during Thibodeau’s tenure knows that this would be a terrible, though not unprecedented, move by the Knicks. Other than trading for Jimmy Butler and leading the Wolves to the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04, Thibodeau was a total disaster. Let’s recap some of that:

  • Per his request, Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in November of 2018, just 13 games into the season.
  • Even though Thibs was considered a defensive coach, the Timberwolves were below-average defensively during all 2 ½ years of Thibodeau’s short tenure, as shown below.

YearDefensive Rating Overall
*Fired After 40 Games

  • He tarted the infamous TimberBulls, a collection of past Bulls whom Thibodeau signed to the Wolves.

  • Tom was fired midway through the 2018-19 season, after a 19-21 start. The move came after an impressive win over the LeBron-led Los Angeles Lakers.

Since being let go from the Timberwolves, Thibodeau has scanned the league for the right fit. I don’t think that fit is the New York Knicks.

Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

The Knicks have one of the youngest rosters in the league — their average age of 25 years old was 6th in the NBA at the start of the 2019-20 season — and that, plus Tom Thibodeau on top, is not a recipe for success..

When the former Wolves coach made the Eastern Conference Finals with the Bulls in the 2010-11 season, Chicago’s average age was about 28 years old. With the Timberwolves, the roster wasn’t much younger.

In my opinion, the young Knicks won’t be able to handle the demanding nature of Coach Thibodeau. We all saw how it turned out with Wiggins and Towns.

On top of that, his coaching style doesn’t fit today’s game. He has built a reputation for playing his guys too long, both in Chicago and Minnesota (one could associate that with both Zach Lavine and Derrick Rose’s ACL tears). Additionally, his game strategy doesn’t fit in with that of today’s style.

In 2017-18, the year the Timberwolves made the playoffs, Minnesota was dead-last in three-pointers attempted. They only put up 22.5 per game. To put that into perspective, the Houston Rockets attempted a jaw-dropping 42.3 three-pointers per game in the same season. 

If Thibs has somehow evolved from his never-taking-my-starters-out-of-the-game or old-school coaching style, then I think he can become a good head coach in today’s game. If not, the Knicks would be making another huge mistake (which isn’t something new to them by the way).

“In all my years one thing has never changed; you win with serious, tough-minded players. That never changes.” — Tom Thibodeau

Looking at the quote above, it seems that if Thibs is hired, he won’t be winning anytime soon.

Carson Ruen | Minnesota Sports Fan

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