Tom Thibodeau

Brand: Sixers “Not Looking To Trade” Embiid Or Simmons

Confirming multiple reports that have surfaced since the team was eliminated from the postseason on Sunday, Sixers general manager Elton Brand said today that there are no plans to shake up the roster by moving either Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons this offseason.

I’m not looking to trade Ben or Joel,” Brand said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). “I’m looking to complement them better.”

While the 76ers have faced questions about how to maximize the Embiid/Simmons duo on the offensive end of the court, the team sounds committed to giving its next head coach a chance to solve that puzzle. As Brand suggests, finding the right complementary pieces to share the floor with the two All-Stars will be part of the equation too.

In his comments to reporters today, Brand also spoke in general terms about changes that might be coming to Philadelphia’s front office. Following the departure of former head of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo in 2018, the Sixers’ front office took a collaborative approach to decision-making, but Brand said on Tuesday that “we feel the collaboration days didn’t work” (Twitter link via Bontemps).

Brand, who is expected to retain decision-making control in the front office, added that he’ll be leading the coaching search and will present his choice to ownership. He also addressed what sort of executives the club may be looking to add to its basketball operations department, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets.

“We’re strong in the strategic and analytic standpoint,” Brand said. “Get some more basketball minds in here. But all options are open.”

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Some of the executives and coaches who spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about the Sixers believe that trading either Embiid or Simmons might be the right move for the franchise. One Eastern Conference GM said he’d trade Embiid because it’s easier to build a roster around Simmons, but multiple executives suggested that Simmons’ shooting woes would make him the more logical trade candidate. Of the respondents who made the case for keeping both players, most argued that it would be difficult to get fair value for either one in a trade, Scotto writes.
  • Noting that managing the Sixers’ stars will be the primary challenge facing the team’s new head coach, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic weighs the pros and cons of Tyronn Lue, Jay Wright, Ime Udoka, and Dave Joerger, four candidates who have been linked to the position so far.
  • The timing of the Knicks‘ head coaching search allowed them to secure Tom Thibodeau before other teams got a chance to pursue him, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who hears from a source that the Sixers held some appeal to Thibodeau (Twitter link).

New York Notes: Walker, Fine, Durant, Fizdale

Kemba Walker‘s interest in signing with the Knicks as a free agent last summer was “very serious,” the Celtics guard said in a Ringer podcast (Twitter link). The New York native revealed that “before Boston actually came along, the Knicks were one of my top priorities. I was thinking they were going to get another player (top free agent) but it didn’t work out.” Walker wound up agreeing to a four-year, $141MM max contract with Boston.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • The Nets were fined $25K for failing to comply with league policies regarding the reporting of injuries, according to an NBA.com post. The fine was not related to public injury reports distributed to the media, but rather something related to its own internal database, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets.
  • If Kevin Durant has his way, he’ll be playing next season with Caris LeVert, Chris Chiozza and Jamal Crawford. Durant praised the trio on the Play for Keeps podcast, Lewis relays. That could influence the way the Nets approach roster changes in the offseason. LeVert is considered to be the Nets’ best asset to acquire a third star but Durant may feel differently. “[LeVert] is definitely better than I thought,” Durant said. Chiozza is on a two-way deal, while the veteran Crawford was signed as a substitute player for the restart.
  • Ex-Knicks coach David Fizdale endorses his former team’s selection of Tom Thibodeau as its new head coach, according to Ian Begley of SNY. Fizdale made his comments during a Sirius XM Radio interview. “I think (Thibs) is a great hire. I think Thibs is a hell of a coach,” Fizdale said. “He demands hard work and toughness out of his guys.”

New York Notes: Stoute, Thibs, Temple, Crawford

Knicks “branding manager” Steve Stoute is confident he can recruit stars to the team, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Stoute, who joined New York’s front office in January, mentioned in a recent conversation with The Breakfast Club show that he, team president Leon Rose and senior vice president William Wesley have strong relationships with some of the NBA’s top stars. Stoute anticipates they will be able to capitalize on these friendships, making the Knicks an attractive free agent destination once again.

“With having Leon in, World Wide Wes and myself, the three of us, we’re the best sort of team as it relates to being able to speak with free agents,’’ Stoute said of the Knicks’ new front office team.

Though every club’s cap situation is fairly up in the air following the anticipated revenue loss caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Knicks could have one of the lowest payrolls in the NBA next season, with only about $55MM currently committed to guaranteed salaries. The club could have even more cap flexibility in 2021.

There’s more out of the Empire State:

  • While speaking in a recent press conference, Knicks GM Scott Perry detailed how new head coach Tom Thibodeau won him over during a series of Zoom interviews, according to a separate Marc Berman piece for The New York Post“During this process, it allowed me personally to get to know the man better and really see how our personalities could come together and mesh,” Perry said. “I felt really good about our time talking basketball. He’s got a lot of the same values about the game that I was raised in that came through clear to me throughout the process.’’
  • Despite the Nets being one of the most injury-ravaged squads among the 22 NBA teams in Orlando, wing Garrett Temple expects his Brooklyn teammates to compete, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “We’re trying to win,” Temple said after the seventh-seeded Nets defeated the East’s top-seeded Bucks today. “We’re not going out here to just mess around or have moral victories.”
  • Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn is cautiously optimistic about the health status of injured 40-year-old guard Jamal CrawfordBrian Lewis of the New York Post noted in a separate article. Crawford played just five minutes before apparently suffering a strained left hamstring. “I’m telling you, I love having him around and it was awesome to see him on the floor, and look forward to him being on the floor again,” Vaughn said.

New York Notes: Nets, Crawford, Thibodeau, Forbes List

The Nets were overmatched in their first reseeding game Friday against the Magic, and it’s a trend that will likely continue throughout their stay in Orlando, writes Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post. Brooklyn started out strong in the 128-118 loss, which dropped the team into eighth place in the East, but a lack of proven NBA talent was too much to overcome. The Nets are missing seven members of their regular roster.

“We need to embrace that stuff a little bit,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We’ll have to be extremely gritty, put a body on someone every single possession. That gave us more than 40 opportunities to shoot 3s and when teams do that you have to make them pay.”

There’s more on the New York teams:

  • Veteran guard Jamal Crawford was held out of Friday’s game and may not make his debut with the Nets tomorrow, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Crawford is listed as questionable for the contest with the Wizards because of conditioning issues. Brooklyn holds a six-game lead over Washington and can effectively clinch a playoff spot with a win.
  • Now that Tom Thibodeau is officially the new head coach of the Knicks, Jonathan Macri of Sports Illustrated looks at five of his former players who could potentially play for him in New York. He notes that when Thibodeau was hired in Minnesota, he brought in several of his ex-players from Chicago. In addition to Taj Gibson, who is already on New York’s roster and is waiting for the team to make a decision on his $9.5MM option for next season, Macri’s list includes D.J. Augustin, Zach LaVine, Jeff Teague and Dario Saric.
  • The Knicks are this year’s highest-valued NBA team on the annual list from Forbes. Despite seven straight losing seasons, the Knicks are third overall at $4.6 billion, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. The Lakers rank fourth at $4.4 billion and the Warriors are fifth at $4.3 billion.

Tom Thibodeau Notes: Butler, G League, Knicks

The Knicks officially named Tom Thibodeau the new head coach earlier this week, ending a long search for the next person to hopefully propel New York back into title contention. Thibodeau, a former assistant coach with the Knicks, brings a winning pedigree, evidenced by his strong run as Bulls head coach.

Now that the Knicks’ future is clearer, Thibodeau’s hiring has and will continue to draw analysis and reaction from around the league. Like every coach, Thibodeau has faced his share of criticism while at the head coaching helm with the Bulls and Timberwolves.

Below you can check out some more news and reaction on New York appointing Thibodeau as the one to lead the Knicks into the future.

  • Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler, who developed from a bench player into the NBA’s elite, is among those most familiar with Thibodeau. Butler, coached by Thibodeau in Chicago and Minnesota, believes his former coach will help the Knicks. “He’s going to do great. He’s going to turn those young guys into some real players; some superstars, some All-Stars,” Butler said to ESPN’s Nick Friedell (Twitter link). “I know he’s been itching for this. I know he’s been preparing for it. When you talk about Thibs and the big stage, I think they go hand in hand.”
  • One policy change under Thibodeau that could change is how the Knicks utilize the G League, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. During his introductory press conference, Thibodeau said the team would like to have players who are not getting sufficient minutes with the Knicks see more floor time in Westchester with the G League squad. Berman notes that giving underutilized players significant G League minutes was a contentious issue between the former vice president of player development/G-League operations Craig Robinson and GM Scott Perry.
  • In an earlier post this week, we relayed some other tidbits on Thibodeau’s hiring, particularly hinting at him being open to changing his coaching style to give ample rest.

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.

New York Notes: Crawford, Vaughn, Thibodeau, Knicks

Veteran guard Jamal Crawford hasn’t made his debut with the Nets yet, but feels comfortable enough with his new team that he’d be on board with the idea of sticking around for next season if Brooklyn wants to bring him back, he tells Steve Selby of The New York Post.

“That would be unbelievable for me ’cause (Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving) are two of my closest friends in the league, that I haven’t actually played with, but just have genuine friendship,” Crawford said. “I’m just trying to stay in the moment, be thankful for this opportunity.”

Although Crawford is enthusiastic about his new NBA home, he’s not expected to play in the team’s first seeding game on Friday against Orlando, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The 40-year-old still needs to get his conditioning up to game speed, per head coach Jacque Vaughn.

  • As Joe Vardon and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic and Brian Lewis of The New York Post write in a pair of stories, the Nets appear to be giving Jacque Vaughn every chance to claim the team’s full-time head coaching position. However, Vaughn’s summer audition for a job coaching Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving next season will have to be done without those two stars, resulting in an unusual evaluation period for Vaughn and the Nets.
  • Knicks GM Scott Perry said on Thursday that new head coach Tom Thibodeau will have the autonomy to fill out his own coaching staff, but Thibodeau confirmed that the team’s front office will have some input in those choices, as Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “I’m confident that we’re going to sit down, I’m going to listen (to) the people that they have, I’m going to recommend some people that I know. Some of them are going to be on both lists,” Thibodeau said. “I’m real comfortable with that. I think we’re going to get a great staff and I’m looking forward to getting started with it.”
  • In a separate story for The New York Post, Berman notes that new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose said on Thursday that there’s “no timeline” for the team to move out of its rebuild and focus on contending. “We are taking it one day at a time,” Rose said. “We felt Tom was that coach who can take us with development to becoming a perennial winner. That happens one step at a time.”

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.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Celtics, Thibodeau, VanVleet

When the Nets take on the Magic to begin the seeding games on Friday afternoon, they might be without a couple of players. According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link), Brooklyn head coach Jacque Vaughn was “non-committal” about Jamal Crawford or Donta Hall playing. Vaughn added that they want to be healthy for the entire restart and the focus is not just this one game against Orlando.

Crawford, who is the elder statesmen of this young Nets team, was signed earlier this month as a replacement player. The 40-year-old guard last played in NBA in the 2018/19 season for the Suns. In 64 games with Phoenix, he averaged 7.9 PPG, 3.6 APG, and 1.3 RPG.

Hall, meanwhile, was also signed earlier this month as a substitute player by the Nets. The 23-year-old big man spent some time with both the Grand Rapids Drive (the Pistons’ G League affiliate) and Detroit this season. With the Drive, the former Alabama Crimson Tide standout averaged 15.4 PPG and 10.6 RPG and earned second-team All-NBAGL honors. Then with the Pistons, Hall received two 10-day contracts. But his latest one in March did not roll over, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • In a radio interview on Wednesday, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said that starting point guard Kemba Walker‘s knee “is the strongest it’s been since he got here in September” (h/t NBC Sports Boston). Stevens also mentioned that Walker will be on a minute restriction against the Bucks on Friday, likely playing between 14-20 minutes.
  • Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams believes that the Knicks‘ success hinges on the long-standing relationship between new team president Leon Rose and soon-to-be head coach Tom Thibodeau, writes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “I think it’s really important. It’s important for Tom,” Adams said. “For somebody starting out like Leon, I think it’s important for him to thoroughly know another person for a long period of time. And it can’t be anything but helpful for both parties.” Adams was on Thibodeau’s staff in Chicago for a few seasons and saw first-hand how successful things were when everybody was working on one accord. Thibodeau will have the tall task of trying to get the Knicks back to the playoffs.
  • If Raptors point guard and impending free-agent Fred VanVleet wants to take his game to another level, he needs to be a better finisher at the rim, opines Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Murphy points out that the play styles of VanVleet and starting point guard Kyle Lowry are similar in multiple ways, but what separates them is the ability to finish at the rim. As of right now, VanVleet ranks towards the bottom third in restricted area field goal percentage (51.2).

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Thibodeau, Wanamaker, Hall

Sixers star Ben Simmons has undergone a fundamental change in his thinking when it comes to shooting threes, according to head coach Brett Brown, as relayed by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

Simmons has reached a new level of familiarity behind the arc, becoming more and more comfortable with taking three-pointers as the year’s progressed. He attempted a pair of threes in the team’s scrimmage against Memphis on Friday, connecting on one in the corner.

“Just playing,” Simmons said. “We’ve been practicing, working on just finding that corner. I’m very comfortable over there, and I’ve been shooting those shots, so I’m glad my teammates are finding me.”

Brown has used Simmons at power forward since landing in Orlando, testing a lineup that features Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Simmons and Joel Embiid in limited time. The team is hopeful Simmons can build on his new position and thinking in the longterm, especially in a league primarily centered on spreading the floor.

“I get excited [watching it] … He doesn’t flinch,” Brown said. “The sport told him, ‘I’m open, nobody is guarding me, shoot it,’ and he did. There was no hesitation about what’s next, or, ‘What decision do I have to make now?'”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Former Knicks center Joakim Noah believes Tom Thibodeau is a perfect hire for the organization, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. Noah, who was coached by Thibodeau in Chicago from 2010-15, praised his defensive tenacity and winning ways after the news broke. “Defense and practice habits,” Noah wrote in a comment on social media. “The Knicks are in good hands. All he cares about is hoop. Perfect fit.” Thibodeau is finalizing a five-year agreement with the organization, according to ESPN.
  • Celtics guard Brad Wanamaker is taking advantage of his opportunity with the team, Taylor Snow of Celtics.com writes. Wanamaker has earned the respects of his teammates as a natural leader, averaging 6.6 points, 2.5 assists and 19.3 minutes as a back-up point guard this season. He recorded nine points, four rebounds and four assists in the team’s scrimmage win against Phoenix on Sunday, logging 21 minutes.
  • Nets big man Donta Hall has practiced with the team for the first time since inking his contract earlier this month, Zach Braziller writes in a separate story for the New York Post. Despite not playing in Saturday’s scrimmage against San Antonio, Hall is expected to receive action in the coming days with the team. “We’ll be able to see if we’re able to have some growth from him during this bubble period and he definitely should get some minutes to help us along with these games,” interim coach Jacque Vaughn said.