As we relayed this morning, the Knicks suffered a crushing 111-106 loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday, in which New York blew a 28-point lead, intensifying scrutiny on head coach Tom Thibodeau. The Knicks are just 3-13 over their last 16 games and currently hold a 25-34 record, 12th in the East.
“A byproduct of losing is everyone wants to place blame. And I understand that,” Thibodeau said after the game. “We all have jobs to do. (The season) has not gone as well as it has. It didn’t go great last year until the end, right? Lock into what we have to do. Don’t get caught up in getting distracted. And focus on how we can do better. That’s where I want the focus to lie.”
Sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that, in conversations with owner James Dolan, executive vice president William Wesley has been blaming Thibodeau’s coaching as a significant factor in the team’s struggles this season.
Thibodeau, the reigning Coach of the Year, was hand-picked by Wesley and president Leon Rose, and the three men have known each other for years, Begley writes. However, something is clearly amiss between the coaching staff and the front office.
Thibodeau was angry that the Knicks didn’t make trades ahead of the deadline last week and believed that a roster upgrade would have been beneficial, sources tell Begley. Thibodeau has been consulted with for personnel moves, and although his opinion is considered, New York’s front office has made several roster moves that didn’t align with Thibodeau’s thinking, per Begley.
In a separate article for SNY.tv, Begley states that he would be surprised if Thibodeau was fired before the end of the season — but confidence in the coach has clearly diminished within the organization.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News contends that the onus is on Rose to speak up with the embattled coach twisting in the wind. Sources confirmed Begley’s reporting to Bondy, that Wesley has Dolan’s ear and has been blaming Thibodeau for the team’s struggles. Wesley is also unhappy with Thibodeau’s reticence to play younger players.
The front office forced Thibodeau to add two assistant coaches — Johnnie Bryant and Kenny Payne — onto the staff as a condition of his hiring in 2020, sources tell Bondy. Should Thibodeau be fired, Bondy believes either of those coaches could named the next head coach.
Rose hasn’t spoken to the media since September, before the season started, and prior to that it had been more than a year since he’d spoken publicly, Bondy writes. He believes Rose needs to address the situation and back Thibodeau — or not — because the silence is leading to a lack of clarity on the team’s direction.