Tom Thibodeau

New York Notes: Randle, Quickley, Simmons, Curry

After a 2021/22 regression from his lone All-NBA Second Team appearance the year before, Knicks power forward Julius Randle is amenable to an increased offensive pace and fewer touches, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Bondy notes that the club’s pace ranked 30th during head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s first season in New York and 29th in 2021/22.

“It’s just the way the game is going,” Randle said of the speed adjustment. “There are so many more possessions, high-scoring games. So, it’s just the way the league is going and an adjustment that everybody has to make.”

Bondy adds that the 27-year-old shed some pounds during the offseason in service of an anticipated uptick in pace this year.

“Because of the strength of the club, we can use him in different ways,” Thibodeau said. “He doesn’t always have to have the ball. He can play off the ball [as a secondary playmaker in transition].”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Third-year Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley is hoping to raise his field goal shooting percentage in 2022/23, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. To do that, Quickley has been fleshing his mid-range game over the summer. “I think it will help my field-goal percentage a lot,” the 6’3″ guard out of Kentucky said. “Just being able to do everything when I’m on the floor is a versatility thing I like for myself.” For his career, the 23-year-old is a 39.3% shooter.
  • Nets forward Ben Simmons underwent cryotherapy sessions as he rehabilitated his surgically-repaired back during the 2022 offseason, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscriber-only link). “I’ve put myself in position,” Simmons said of his development this summer. “I’ve been working on myself this past year to get back on the floor and play at a high level… I deserve to take this opportunity to get back on the court, so I’m excited to team up with these guys, these coaches.”
  • Nets shooting guard Seth Curry has yet to engage in 5-on-5 play with Brooklyn as he continues to work his way back from a May left ankle surgery, reports Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter link). Curry indicates that he is continuing to feel comfortable during individual workouts. Friedell adds that head coach Steve Nash remains hopeful that Curry can round into form in time to play in the team’s final preseason game next week.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Montero, Staff, Brunson

While Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau could end up on the hot seat if the team has another disappointing season, he says pressure is essentially not in his vocabulary as the franchise enters a pivotal year, Steve Popper of Newsday writes.

“I’ve never felt pressure, ever,” Thibodeau said. “See, when you put everything you have into your job, that’s all you can do. So I’ve never felt pressure. Others can say this, that. That ain’t happening here. Just get ready. I’ve been at this a long time. I approach it the same way. I put everything I have into each and every day. I’m willing to live with that result. There’s no one — no one — who studies this team harder than I do.”

Thibodeau has some financial security, having signed a five-year contract in 2020.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • While most teams entered training camp with a full 20-man roster, the Knicks are one player shy of the maximum. According to Ian Begley of SNY TV (Twitter link), the possible reason is that they are hoping to reduce guard Jean Montero’s buyout with overseas club Gran Canaria. Montero impressed the Knicks, among others, during Summer League games. The Knicks reportedly agreed to an Exhibit 10 deal with Montero in June.
  • The team officially announced its coaching staff for this season, Begley tweets, including the additions of Rick Brunson and Othella Harrington. Johnnie Bryant is the associate head coach.
  • Regarding Rick Brunson, father of free agent signee Jalen Brunson, the team has declined to comment on whether there was an internal investigation regarding allegations of misconduct that led to his resignation from the Timberwolves staff in 2018. Thibodeau was somewhat vague when asked about the elder Brunson, according to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski and Fred Katz. “I’m not sure exactly of everything that was done, but I know whenever they hire anyone, they’re going to vet them,” he said, adding “I feel strongly about him.”

Atlantic Notes: Knicks Rotation, Barrett, Udoka

Knicks team president Leon Rose will not impose minutes limits or rotational guidelines on head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s lineups this season in New York, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “We love our young players, too,” Rose said during an interview with the team’s cable channel MSG Network.

“Thibs decides who plays, how many minutes, what the rotations are. The one thing I know about Thibs – he’s going to make decisions based on who is going to win us a basketball game. That’s his role and I have full confidence in that.” During a lottery-bound year last season, the team’s intriguing young players Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes were all still given relatively limited run in favor of the team’s older starters.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Though newly-extended Knicks small forward RJ Barrett may still have All-Star upside, he has plenty to prove in New York, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I will not be surprised if that contract ends up looking as an overpay,” an NBA source tells Berman. “But I don’t blame the Knicks for signing him to an extension. Expectations aside, he’s improved into a solid starter in the NBA who can provide offense. I don’t think he’s good enough to be a top-three guy on your team. But some views on him are colored by expectations as a No. 3 pick in the [2019] draft.”
  • Celtics employees are grappling with fallout from the bombshell news of Boston’s year-long suspension of head coach Ime Udoka following a workplace affair with a female staff member, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic“We have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought yesterday was really hard on them,” team president Brad Stevens said on Friday in addressing rampant online speculation about the identity of the female staffer with whom Udoka engaged in an affair. “I think that nobody can control Twitter speculation… But I do think we as an organization have a responsibility to make sure we’re there to support them now, because a lot of people were dragged unfairly into that.”

Knicks Notes: L. Rose, Brunson, Barrett, Thibodeau

Even though his pursuit of Donovan Mitchell fell through, Knicks president Leon Rose said on Friday in a television interview that he’s “thrilled” with the roster heading into training camp, relays Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Bondy points out that Rose made his comments to MSG Network, which is owned by Knicks owner James Dolan. Under Dolan’s direction, the team has been boycotting outside media apart from sessions that are mandated by the league.

“We went through that process (of trying to trade for Mitchell) and at the end of the day we made a decision to stay put,” Rose said. “And we’re thrilled with where we are. Taking a look at the summer, we feel great about what transpired.”

Rose emphasized “internal stability” that was created by re-signing Mitchell Robinson, giving RJ Barrett a four-year, $107MM extension that carries the largest yearly salary in team history and retaining the team’s 11 first-round picks over the next seven years. Rose also touted the free agency addition of Jalen Brunson, who is being counted on to solve a long-standing problem at point guard.

“He fills one of the biggest voids that we have. The starting point guard,” Rose said. “That is such an important role on our team. We needed that person that was going stabilize us.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Even though he got his extension, Barrett was treated poorly by the Knicks this summer, Bondy contends in a separate story. Barrett had to listen to weeks of rumors that he was headed to Utah as part of the package for Mitchell, and Bondy called the eventual extension announcement “sloppy” because it was tweeted by the team shortly after news broke that Mitchell was headed to Cleveland. The Knicks also didn’t have a press conference to celebrate Barrett’s extension because of Dolan’s media blackout.
  • Coach Tom Thibodeau may start to feel some heat if the Knicks get off to a bad start, Bondy adds. Thibodeau was criticized last year for not trusting his young players, and he may become an easy scapegoat for management.
  • Zach Braziller of The New York Post (subscription required) grades the Knicks’ offseason moves, giving high marks to the addition of Brunson (B+) and the signing of backup center Isaiah Hartenstein (A-). He was less enthusiastic about the decision to hang onto draft assets instead of cashing them in for Mitchell (C+) and cites the risks of giving $60MM over four years to Robinson considering his injury history (C-).

Eastern Notes: Tatum, Herro, Oubre, Thibodeau, Brunson

Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum played with a small non-displaced fracture in his left wrist this past season, he revealed in an interview with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report. Tatum suffered the injury on February 13 against the Hawks.

In May, Tatum revealed he was dealing with wrist pain after being fouled by Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, but he wouldn’t go into more detail. He received a cortisone shot for the pain and continued playing.

Tatum sounded optimistic that the wrist won’t be an issue going forward, as he’s no longer dealing with pain. The 24-year-old led Boston to its first NBA Finals berth since 2010 this season, averaging 25.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists in the playoffs.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • Heat guard Tyler Herro unsurprisingly wants the team to run it back with the same group this season, as relayed by Betr (Twitter link). This would require that the team doesn’t acquire Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell, both of whom would likely require Herro to be traded. Miami suffered a significant blow when P.J. Tucker signed with the Sixers in free agency, but otherwise looks very similar to last season’s team.
  • Hornets forward Kelly Oubre Jr. should be monitored as a potential trade piece this season, an NBA executive told Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Oubre, 26, averaged 15.0 points on 44% shooting last season. If the Hornets look to improve their center position, it’s possible he could be included in a deal.
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is “ecstatic” about the arrival of Jalen Brunson this season, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Thibodeau believes he can turn Brunson from a B-minus player to a B-plus one, a source tells Berman, which would largely start on the defensive end. Brunson signed a four-year, $104MM deal to join the Knicks this offseason.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Brunson, Mitchell, L. Rose, Barrett

Knicks president Leon Rose expressed his support for head coach Tom Thibodeau in a recent interview and he backed it up in a letter sent to season-ticket holders this week, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. There was reportedly some desire for a coaching change among the front office during the season, but Rose’s letter leaves no doubt that Thibodeau will return.

“Our coaching staff is at the heart of our young core’s development and confidence to compete at the highest level, as well as our vets’ ability to produce in their roles,” Rose wrote. “We have seen multiple players take leaps over the last two seasons under Coach Thibodeau’s tutelage and commitment to playing the right way.”

Thibodeau was named Coach of the Year in 2021 after leading the Knicks to a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. Although the team fell out of the playoffs this year, it posted a 12-7 record to finish the season with several veteran players unavailable.

There’s more from New York:

  • The Knicks had a large contingent at today’s playoff game between the Mavericks and Jazz, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Executive vice president William Wesley was there, along with front office members Allan Houston and Makhtar N’diaye and the scouting staff. Julius Randle met the group as well. The Knicks are known to have interest in Dallas guard Jalen Brunson in free agency, and there have been reports that they would make a trade offer for Utah’s Donovan Mitchell if he ever becomes available.
  • Rose will likely make at least one significant move this summer to shake up the roster, Ian Begley of SNY.tv. predicts in a column for Yahoo Sports. Begley notes that owner James Dolan has given Rose the financial freedom to make whatever changes he believes are necessary, so it would look bad for Rose if next year’s roster is virtually the same.
  • It may be difficult for the Knicks to finalize a rookie-scale extension with RJ Barrett during the offseason, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Barrett is eligible for a deal that would start around $37MM in the 2023/24 season. Gozlan believes the team will try to get him to take a starting salary in the $25MM range, similar to the extensions for Jaylen Brown and Jaren Jackson Jr. If Barrett doesn’t reach an agreement, he’ll be on track for restricted free agency next summer.

Knicks Notes: Thibodeau, Randle, Robinson, Fournier

In a rare media appearance, Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose spoke to MSG Network’s Mike Breen over the weekend about the state of the franchise, head coach Tom Thibodeau, and forward Julius Randle, among other topics. Rose acknowledged it was a “disappointing” season in New York, but expressed confidence that the team’s long-term plan is on track.

“Absolutely. We have to stick to the plan,” he said, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “We have to build one block at a time, be patient. We feel like we’re set up, you know, really well as far as like, we’ve got 13 draft picks over the next three drafts, four first-round picks. With regard to opportunities that may come along, we’re very flexible. We want to show patience, we want to show prudence in making those decisions and continuing to develop what we have.”

Rose said the Knicks fell short of their goal of being a playoff team, but added that he saw some positive signs from the club during the season’s home stretch. Following a seven-game losing streak that began in February and ended in March, New York went 12-7 the rest of the way and got solid production from a handful of young players.

Jericho (Sims) going against starting centers, the 58th pick in the draft,” Rose said, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Obi (Toppin), the last week or so has just taken it to another level, scoring a career-high the last game. Quentin (Grimes), who had already established himself in the rotation. (Miles McBride) getting minutes and doing a good job with it. (Immanuel Quickley) playing point guard and showing some signs.

“And RJ (Barrett) is only 21 years old. We have nine players on our team who are 24 years old or younger and Julius is only 27, so … we look at that like development is key. And just in this part of the season, we’ve seen some good development and just need to work and continue on and build on that.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Rose said that Randle “loves it here in New York (and) wants to be in New York,” according to Begley. The Knicks’ president also praised the job Thibodeau did in a challenging season. “I mean, again, he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA,” Rose said, per Popper. “So obviously none of us are happy with the results this year. But he’s a guy who prepares our team better than anybody. I feel that he’s done a good job under the circumstances.”
  • According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Rose was “dead-set” against letting Thibodeau go during the season when at least two members of the front office recommended making a coaching change. Berman also hears from a source that some Knicks executives and players didn’t love the fact that the coaching staff didn’t hold Randle more accountable for his “miscues” throughout the season.
  • Randle and Toppin have talked about the possibility of playing together in small-ball lineups next season, as Peter Botte of The New York Post relays. “There are so many different things we can do when we’re both on the court,” Toppin said. “But we’ve definitely talked about it and hopefully we’re both back here next year and we can see that. I feel like we can definitely do some damage in the league if we’re on the court together.”
  • Although he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer, Mitchell Robinson remains eligible to sign an extension with the Knicks up until June 30 and Rose hasn’t ruled out that possibility, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. “With Mitchell, there has been ongoing discussions throughout the year with his agent,” Rose told Breen. “And those discussions will continue, will continue for the remainder of the time until free agency.” The Knicks are limited to offering Robinson about $55.6MM over four years on an extension — they could go higher in free agency.
  • Knicks swingman Evan Fournier intends to represent France in this September’s EuroBasket tournament, tweets Katz.

New York Notes: Durant, Hunt, Tanking, Knicks Staff

The Nets had all kinds of issues this season — Kyrie Irving‘s refusal to get vaccinated, James Harden‘s desire to be traded to Philadelphia, Joe Harris‘ injury — but Kevin Durant believes his knee injury was the biggest reason they nosedived in the standings.

“To be honest, I feel like our season was derailed by my injury,” Durant said to ESPN’s Nick Friedell and other media members. “So, I’m not looking at it like we’re just not a good basketball team. It’s like there wasn’t a lot of continuity with me and Kyrie out of the lineup, that’s just what it is. When we’re all on the floor together, I like what we got.”

The Nets will have to fight their way out of the play-in tournament but Durant isn’t worried about the extra challenges ahead.

“I don’t care who we play. I don’t care that we’re in the play-in. Just tip the ball up, see what happens,” he said. “That’s all you can control. It’s too stressful thinking about we’re trying to dodge a team, lining up, just play the game. We’ll see what happens.”

We have more on the New York teams:

  • With Julius Randle shut down for the rest of the season, power forward Feron Hunt could see some action in the remaining Knicks games, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Hunt was signed last month to a two-way contract. In seven games with the G League’s Westchester Knicks, Hunt averaged 16.9 PPG. “We like who he is, so I want to get a chance to see him as well,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.
  • The Knicks have won five of their last seven games, which won’t help their chances of winning the draft lottery. RJ Barrett would rather finish the season on a high note than go into tank mode, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. “This helps build momentum, trying to finish out the season strong and carry that momentum into next year,” Barrett said. “Every game is important for us as a team for guys to develop and see who we are and who we’re going to be.”
  • When the Knicks hire a replacement for assistant coach Kenny Payne, it will signal whether Thibodeau has regained autonomy over his staff, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News opines. As a condition of getting hired, Thibodeau agreed to take on Payne, Mike Woodson and Johnnie Bryant as his top assistants. One of Thibodeau’s hand-picked assistants, Darren Erman, moved to the front of the bench when Payne left to coach Louisville. If the Knicks add another assistant not associated with Thibodeau, it will signal that team executive William Wesley is once again exerting his influence.

Eastern Notes: Beal, Irving, Fultz, Thibodeau

Wizards star Bradley Beal isn’t opposed to receiving interest from rival teams, he said on Draymond Green‘s podcast, as relayed by James Herbert of CBS Sports. Beal will be eligible to sign a five-year, $245MM contract with Washington this summer if he turns down a $36.4MM player option and becomes a free agent.

“I’m kind of embracing everything,” Beal explained, “so I’m not upset about the rumors, I’m not upset about, you know, teams wanting me. I feel like that’s a good thing, right? We put in the work and we’re wanted by a lot of people, not just where we’re at.” 

Beal has seen his name surface in trade rumors, but the 28-year-old hasn’t requested a trade and Washington hasn’t appeared willing to deal him. Beal’s production dipped this season, but he still managed to average 23.2 points and 6.6 assists per game on 45% shooting from the floor.

“It’s kind of funny. I’ve never been a free agent,” he said. “It’s kind of reminding me of college recruiting. Like I hear every single game somebody’s recruiting me. Someone’s like tagging on me, whether it’s another player or whether it may be a coach or whoever it may be, somebody’s chit-chatting: ‘B, what you want to do this summer? What you doing this summer?'”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Kirk Goldsberry considers what Kyrie Irving‘s full-time availability will mean for the Nets and their title chances. As Goldsberry notes, while Irving certainly makes Brooklyn’s offensive attack more dangerous, the team’s defense remains a question mark.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz is starting to feel more comfortable just one month after his return, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel writes. Fultz missed more than a year due to a torn ACL, making his debut on February 28 against the Pacers. He most recently finished with 16 points, three assists and three steals in 19 minutes against the Kings on Saturday, showing potential on both sides of the ball.
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is offended by claims that he’s stunted Obi Toppin‘s growth by not giving him enough minutes, plus that he mistreated Kemba Walker, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Thibodeau also lashed out at some social media critics and writers. “It’s a team, not an individual thing,” he exclaimed. “Can’t pick up a box score after and say, ‘How many people are watching to the end of the game’ to really know exactly what happened in the game. I see a lot of opinions, but I don’t see guys doing the work to actually study it.’’ 

New York Notes: Dragic, Irving, Thibodeau, Payne

With James Harden traded away and Kyrie Irving unavailable for most of their remaining games, the Nets were able to stabilize their backcourt by signing Goran Dragic, who had been inactive for most of the season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Dragic, who hadn’t played since November 13, signed with Brooklyn following a buyout with the Raptors. He quickly got into game shape and moved into the rotation.

“Physically I’m good. So I got in shape in one week; it’s crazy,” Dragic said. “The last game (Sunday against the Knicks) I played 38 minutes. I even talked to (coach Steve Nash) and tell him ‘Steve, that’s too much.’ But he’s like ‘Yeah, we don’t have nobody else, a couple of guys are hurt.’ So, do whatever it takes for the team. I still have to have to catch my rhythm, but I’m just happy to be out there and to help and try to organize everybody and put the right situation and try to make it easier.”

Nash was hoping to ease Dragic into the lineup, but circumstances have dictated otherwise. Seth Curry and Cam Thomas are both dealing with injuries that forced them to miss tonight’s game and Irving will only be eligible for three more games during the regular season, so there’s not much choice but to rely on Dragic.

“We’d like to keep him in a range though that is a little more reasonable, especially in some of these stretches where he’s playing four in six nights,” Nash said. “It’s not easy to throw him out there after having three or four months without playing and play over 35 minutes consistently, so we’ve got to try to protect him if we can. But we’re in a little bit of desperation here with guards out of the lineup.”

There’s more from New York:

  • Nets fans hoping that New York City’s vaccine mandate might be lifted soon, allowing Irving to participate in home games, were let down today by Mayor Eric Adams, per Kevin Sheehen, Bernadette Hogan and Sam Raskin of The New York Post“I’m focused on 9 million people,” Adams said. “And so, I am not looking at one person, I’m looking at my city not closing down again, not having to deal with this crisis again.”
  • Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau brushed aside speculation about his future with the team during tonight’s pre-game session with the media, tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post“I don’t worry about any of that stuff,” Thibodeau said in response to a report this morning that he’s likely to return next season. In a column that ran today, Berman supports keeping Thibodeau, arguing that a coaching change wouldn’t solve the team’s biggest problems.
  • Knicks assistant Kenny Payne will be hired Friday as the new head coach at the University of Louisville, sources tell Jeff Borzello of ESPN.