The Knicks and Tom Thibodeau are finalizing a five-year contract to make him their head coach, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.
Thibodeau has been considered the favorite to land the job for months. However, Lakers assistant Jason Kidd reportedly emerged as a frontrunner after negotiations with Thibodeau appeared to hit a snag. Those differences have obviously been ironed out.
Thibodeau has strong ties to the new front office regime, as team president Leon Rose is his former agent. Thibodeau has a .589 winning percentage (352-246) as a head coach with the Bulls and Timberwolves, though his tenure with Minnesota ended midway through the 2018/19 season when the team was floundering below .500 at 19-21.
The Knicks conducted an extensive search for the position. Ex-Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, interim Knicks coach Mike Miller, former NBA coaches Mike Brown and Mike Woodson, and a handful of current assistants from around the NBA were considered for the job. Thibodeau was interviewed twice, including a three-hour session in his second interview. Overall, Rose and his front office team met with 11 candidates.
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, including center Mitchell Robinson and last year’s lottery pick, RJ Barrett.
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 the sixth straight season.
Thibodeau has long-standing ties to the organization as an assistant under Jeff Van Gundy from 1996-2004.
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