Knicks Officially Hire Tom Thibodeau As Head Coach

The Knicks have made it official, announcing today in a press release that Tom Thibodeau has been named the franchise’s new head coach. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported on Saturday that the two sides were finalizing a five-year contract.

“Tom Thibodeau is a proven winner who gets the most out of the players and teams that he has coached,” Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose said in a statement. “He will bring leadership, accountability, and a hard-working mentality to our organization. We are excited to bring him back to New York and look forward to collaborating with him and his staff toward a successful future.”

An assistant coach with the Knicks from 1996-2004, Thibodeau also worked on coaching staffs in Minnesota, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Houston, and Boston before getting his first head coaching opportunity with the Bulls in 2010.

In five seasons as Chicago’s head coach, Thibodeau led the team to a 255-139 (.647) record and five consecutive postseason appearances. The Bulls won four playoff series and earned a spot in the Eastern Finals during that stretch.

Thibodeau later served as the head coach and head of basketball operations in Minnesota, leading the Timberwolves to their first postseason appearance in 14 years during the 2017/18 season. However, his time with the Wolves came to an abrupt end in ’18/19 following a messy divorce with star swingman Jimmy Butler.

Thibodeau didn’t coach during the ’19/20 season, opting to take the year off to visit with a number of teams and await his next opportunity. He was cited as a potential target for the Nets and Rockets as well, but with those teams still active and not guaranteed to be seeking new head coaches this offseason, Thibodeau was increasingly linked to the Knicks, the only club that has conducted a full-fledged coaching search so far this year.

Even as they interviewed 10 other candidates, the Knicks seemed focused on Thibodeau throughout their process. There was a time last week when it appeared as if talks between Thibodeau and the Knicks had hit a snag — Jason Kidd was said to be emerging as the new frontrunner, as veteran reporter Frank Isola confirmed in a recent radio appearance (8:35 mark). However, even then, Thibodeau was viewed as New York’s top choice, and was eventually able to reach an agreement with the club that reunites him with Rose, his former agent at CAA.

The team that Thibodeau inherits is in flux. The Knicks have a number of veteran players on non-guaranteed contracts for next season after striking out in their quest for a superstar player last offseason. They’re expected to be one of a handful of teams with significant salary-cap space this offseason and also have some interesting young pieces under contract, including center Mitchell Robinson and last year’s lottery pick, RJ Barrett.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to this historic franchise as head coach and work alongside a talented front office that I have great trust in and respect for,” Thibodeau said in a statement. “I know what New York is like when the Knicks are successful and there is nothing comparable. I look forward to being a part of what we are building here and can’t wait to get to work.”

The Knicks are counting on Thibodeau to develop those young players and instill a winning culture. New York was 21-45 this season and missed the playoffs for a sixth straight season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Dana Gauruder contributed to this story.

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16 thoughts on “Knicks Officially Hire Tom Thibodeau As Head Coach

  1. arc89

    That is why they are the Knicks. They should be thinking of a rebuild by picking a coach that rebuilds. Instead their owner feels they can contend. Mark jackson would have been the right coach for the team.

    • padam

      While I agree with your statement that a rebuild type coach would’ve been a better choice – like a Brad Stevens for example, hiring Mark Jackson would be no different than Thibs. Just because MJ coached SC and KT when they were raw doesn’t qualify him as a rebuild type of coach. He has a hard approach with players, and it was that approach that rubbed players wrong and had him exited from GS. I see Thibs in the same light.

      • arc89

        His exit from GS was due to his handling of the offense. His offense direction handicap the players. Jackson is a great defensive coach the first building blocks of a rebuild. Learn to play defense. Brad Stevens would be a great coach for the knicks but the Celtics would never let him go.

        • jump shot

          And they just KNEW Steve Kerr would be a brilliant offensive coach????
          *or did they know he’d just be the opposite of his predecessor and get along with everyone in the organization – and they’d take their chances that he’d be solid as a coach, as well?

          • arc89

            They were looking for somebody who ran great plays. BB is like chess with you matching up with other teams. Watch one the playoffs hit and you will see who can coach and who can’t. Lakers is all about talent not coaching. A team like the raptors and Celtics is about coaching.

    • Wyoming Bison Expansion Team

      When he took over as bulls head coach he had a young core.

      Rose, Noah, Gibson, were young. Deng was in his 6th year and Carlos Boozer his 8th.

      He had a young core to work with during his time in Chicago and build up the system with them.

      In Minnesota he has young pieces in 2016 but Minnesota goes out and trades for Butler who was in his 7th year in 2017. They went from a young team to a more veteran team expected to win right away with Butler Teague and Gibson to supplement Wiggins and Anthony Towns in literally 1 year.

      Knicks give Thibs a young roster and 3 seasons to develop the system with that young core I think you will see results.

      You give him 1 year and then completely revamp the roster the following year with veterans and expect to compete right away you won’t see as much progress.

      • wagner13

        To add to your point, he helped develop Butler from a fringe first rounder to a bona fide superstar. Obviously, part of that was Jimmy’s willingness to out in the work, but it took some quality coaching from Thibs as well. His Minnesota tenure may have been a disaster, but it’s not like the team has improved much with Ryan Saunders at the helm

    • GoLandCrabs

      You thought you were so trendy with the “typical Knicks” then ruined it with “they should have hired Mark Jackson”. Jackson became stale for modern basketball in 2014. No, a fossil that has been out of the game for 6 years is not a good option for the Knicks.

      • arc89

        Watch and see. You need to build a good defensive team before you can build the offense. Knicks have neither. A slow build so you can make a dynasty not a team of parts.

        • GoLandCrabs

          Will I? Its been 6 years and no one wants to hire Mark Jackson. Its almost nearing “Jeff Van Gundy” is coming back level of delusion.

    • padam

      While I’d go with 2 years as my gut reaction, 3 because of his profile/level. Even Jeff H got 2 years.

      • mlbnyyfan

        I just hope he’s not like Phil Jackson and takes money he can’t refuse and does a horrible job.

  2. KnickerbockerAl

    Thibs took over all young teams. Like poster said. Butler exposed Wiggins. He couldn’t stay anymore. Thibs should of just been coach in Minny. Wiggins was later given away. So Butler was not wrong. This is a good choice. You need a veteran coach here. Plus someone who understands NY. Knicks have plenty picks next three yrs. plus plenty cap room. So expect a major in move in a yr or two. First thing is first. This draft and build the confidence of this young team. Weed out the imposters. And build the core foundation. From a young core. 3 picks in top 37 picks in draft this yr. we will be Youngest team inNBA. It’s going to get much better in NY. Sooner than you think. 2 yrs is not a long time. Thibs will be here a long time.

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      He’s going to run those young players into the dirt, though. That hard-nosed style grinds on guys when it’s night-in and night-out. You’re going to see that young core itching to escape the moment they can; and free agents definitely aren’t coming.

      • x%sure

        There’s a conventional wisdom that says Thibs is all wrong, but with Rose in charge, and Fizdale types tried & fired, and Riley the last success… Thibs seems obvious. From an opponent’s perspective, the Bulls model of about 2011 is one to worry about, not avoided because it did not reach either the sustainability or the peak it should have. Lamelo Ball could be the new Rose, skinnier but smarter.

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