Kenny Payne

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Pinckney, Zipfel, Payne

Tom Thibodeau was officially hired as the Knicks’ head coach on Thursday and calls it his “dream job,” according to Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press. Thibodeau was an assistant coach with New York under Jeff Van Gundy from 1996-2003.

“I think I experienced it during the ’90s that there’s no better place to be than Madison Square Garden,” he said. “And so I love challenges, I love that city, I love the arena, I love the fans and I’m excited about the team.”

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Thibodeau gained a reputation of riding his star players but he’s more open now to keeping them fresh, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. It’s easier to do that with so many teams employing load management strategies for their top players. “Those numbers (minutes) have gone down now. So you won’t be at that disadvantage where they have the best player out there and you don’t,” Thibodeau said. “Talking with sports scientists and athletic trainers, you’re always are monitoring that.”
  • Ed Pinckney, an assistant coach under Thibodeau with the Bulls and Timberwolves, is getting strong consideration to join the Knicks’ staff, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. He would be the team’s “big man” coach if hired. Pat Zipfel could be hired as an advance scout or bench coach, Berman adds. Zipfel also worked for Thibodeau in his previous head coaching stints.
  • University of Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne is under consideration as a potential addition to the coaching staff, Ian Begley of SNY reports. There are also discussions within the organization to hire a significant number of player-development coaches, according to Begley.

Jason Kidd Emerging As Frontrunner For Knicks’ Coaching Job?

1:17pm: Thibodeau is the Knicks’ first choice, but if he doesn’t reach an agreement with the team it could open the door for Kidd, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who hears from a source that Kidd “really wants” the job.

One source who spoke to Berman estimated that Thibodeau still has about a “65 percent” chance to end up with the job. Berman also reports that a final decision isn’t expected to be made until next week.


11:27am: Jason Kidd is emerging as a frontrunner in the Knicks‘ head coach search, a “plugged-in” source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

According to Bondy, Kidd’s odds of becoming New York’s next coach increased after negotiations with presumed frontrunner Tom Thibodeau hit a snag.

Considered a player-friendly coach, Kidd is viewed by the Knicks as an asset for attracting top free agents. However, according to Bondy, some people within the organization aren’t entirely sold on the former Bucks and Nets head coach, given how his stints in Milwaukee and Brooklyn played out.

Bondy suggests that if the Knicks go with Kidd, the front office would want to pick “at least some” of his assistant coaches. A source tells The Daily News that Kenny Payne, Rod Strickland, and Mike Woodson – who all have close ties to new Knicks exec William Wesley – would be candidates to join the staff as assistants.

Bondy hears from a source that the Knicks and owner James Dolan have been unwilling so far to agree to Thibodeau’s contract requests. According to Bondy, Thibodeau remains a possibility for the open position, but one side or both would have to make concessions. Retaining interim coach Mike Miller hasn’t been ruled out either, Bondy adds.

Ian Begley of SNY.tv reported on Thursday morning that the Knicks weren’t currently engaged in negotiations with any of their head coaching candidates and hadn’t made a contract offer to anyone. That doesn’t necessarily contradict Bondy’s report — it’s possible the team had earlier negotiations with Thibodeau and never got to the point where an offer was made. It’s also possible negotiations took place in the last 24 hours, after Begley’s report was published.

Begley also indicated on Thursday that there’s a “strong likelihood” the Knicks will have conversations with multiple candidates next week, so it may still be several days before the team finalizes its decision. The club is expected to have a new head coach in place by the end of the month.