Our Short Jason Kidd Nightmare Is Over: Tom Thibodeau To Be Knicks Head Coach

From the no-longer-suspended Woj at ESPN:

The New York Knicks and Tom Thibodeau are finalizing a five-year deal to make him the franchise’s next head coach, sources tell ESPN.

Knicks president Leon Rose and agent Spencer Breecker of CAA Sports were working Saturday to complete contractual terms, and a signed agreement is expected in the near future, sources said.

There’s a popular children’s book by Louis Sachar called Sideways Stories from Wayside School, about a bizarre school and the odd students who go there. One of the earliest chapters tells the story of Joe, a kid who seemingly doesn’t know how to count, but ultimately always arrives at the correct answer in the end. Like the teacher puts down eight potatoes and asks Joe to count them and he replies, “Seven, five, three, one, two, four, six, eight. There are eight potatoes, Mrs. Jewls.”

I was reminded of that story during the Knicks’ offbeat process that led to them ending up with the coach we all knew they were going to hire if they could back in March. We got to the eighth potato somehow, even if it was all over the place getting there.

I still think Atkinson was the preferable choice, but Thibs is, at worst, a competent coach, which is a big step up from most of the recent Knick coaches. And, more importantly, he isn’t Jason Kidd, so this is fine news.

It’d be funny if the rumor that Alan mentioned the other day about the Knicks waiting for Woj to get off suspension so he could break it was true.

Jason Kidd now a frontrunner for Knicks coach as search turns messy: source

From Stefan Bondy:

The Knicks coaching search has turned messy with Jason Kidd emerging as a frontrunner after contract negotiations with Tom Thibodeau stalled, a plugged-in NBA source told the Daily News.

Kidd, an unquestioned Hall of Fame player, is viewed by the Knicks as a conduit to attracting free agents, but there are also people in the organization who are skeptical of his coaching ability following underwhelming stints in Brooklyn and Milwaukee. As a result, the Kidd hire would come with the caveat of the front office picking at least some of his assistant coaches.

“It’s basically to save Kidd from himself,” the source said.

Thibodeau has long been considered top choice but a source said James Dolan has thus far been unwilling to agree to his contract requests. It’s still possible the sides reach an agreement, but it would require a concession. Given the reservations about Kidd — who has a history of short stays and ugly breakups — retaining interim coach Mike Miller is another possibility if Thibodeau doesn’t re-emerge.

Miller went 17-27 last season after taking over for David Fizdale, impressing team president Leon Rose along the way.

According to a source, potential handpicked assistant coaching candidates for Kidd include Kenny Payne, Rod Strickland and Mike Woodson — all who have close ties to Knicks executive William Wesley.

Well, that all sounds perfectly awful.

Now I have to root big time for Thibs to get the job.

This team, this fucking team.

SNY.com: Sources: Knicks have not made contract offer to any head coaching candidates

From Ian Begley:

An update on where things stand with the Knicks coaching search: per league sources familiar with the matter, New York is not in contract negotiations with any candidate and has not made a contract offer to any of the candidates it has interviewed.

The Knicks are continuing to do their due diligence and there is a strong likelihood that they will have conversations with multiple candidates next week, per SNY league sources.

It remains likely that the club will hire a coach by the end of the month, prior to the NBA resuming its regular season in Orlando.

“They’re still exploring their options,” a league source familiar with the Knicks’ process told SNY.

Agents and coaches with a vested interest in the Knicks’ search have long believed that Tom Thibodeau is the coach most likely to be hired by Knicks president Leon Rose. The Knicks have interviewed 11 candidates for the job. All candidates are believed to have interviewed twice over Zoom calls.

Sports Illustrated reported that Kenny Atkinson interviewed with the club on Monday. That was believed to be Atkinson’s second interview.

The idea that the Knicks haven’t made a contract offer to any candidate suggests that Thibodeau’s hire isn’t as much of a foregone conclusion as the coaches and agents referenced above thought. That they may be talking to candidates again next week also tells you the Knicks haven’t fully settled on Thibodeau.

This team is so weird.

None of this makes any sense.

If Thibs is, indeed, the automatic choice, how do you not even offer him a contract? If Thibs is not the choice, then why is it taking so long to offer one of these other dudes a contract? How can they possibly not know who they want to coach the team after multiple interviews with multiple candidates?

NY Post: Tom Thibodeau doing deep dive into Knicks as coach decision looms

From Marc Berman:

While five of the Knicks’ 11 coaching candidates are in the Orlando bubble game-planning for the NBA restart, others such as Tom Thibodeau are waiting on Knicks president Leon Rose’s decision a different way.

Thibodeau, considered the leading candidate, is passing away the time poring over Knicks game film as he awaits a possible job offer, according to an NBA source.

It is characteristic of Thibodeau, known for having his teams as well-prepared as any coach.

It’s known one of the things that most intrigues Thibodeau about coaching the Knicks roster is molding young shot-blocking center Mitchell Robinson into an even better defensive player.

A decision probably will come next week as interviews have been completed, but owner James Dolan still must be consulted and sign off on it. It has been six weeks — and countless hours of interviews — since the Knicks began the search.

Thibodeau’s second interview lasted three hours as did those of many others. That’s plenty of time to talk philosophy — as the 62-year-old did on a recent podcast hosted by ex-Bull and current player agent B.J. Armstrong.

How weird is this story? So, the dude’s studying Knick game tape? What the what? How is he not the coach then? And with so many good coaching gigs either definitely available this offseason or very possibly available, why in the world would he want the Knicks job so badly?

But if the guy is studying Knick game tape, then I would imagine that he wants this job for some reason. It’s so darn weird.

But whatever, I can live with Thibs. He’s no Jason Kidd.

And hey, if famed coaching expert, BJ Armstrong, recommends him, then he must be good, right (seriously, how hard up are you for a story when it’s “Hey, what does BJ Armstrong think about the Knicks coaching options?”?).

The Athletic: Knicks’ coaching search becoming clearer, but team has 1 other big hire to make

From Mike Vorkunov (behind a paywall, but come on, it really isn’t that expensive to get a subscription):

If Thibodeau were to get the job, it would continue an emerging theme during Rose’s first spring as the team president. Though the Knicks have been generally lauded for their front-office hires, the people Rose has brought in have also had longstanding relationships with him. He and Wesley have been friends for decades from their South Jersey beginnings. He has strong existing relationships with Aller and new assistant general manager Frank Zanin. Thibodeau, along with his successful résumé as a coach, could benefit from that closeness with Rose and other members of his front office. Wesley reportedly represented Thibodeau when he worked for CAA. It is not unusual for executives to hire people they have known awhile, and Rose is doing so in his first offseason on the team side after 20-plus years as a player agent.

The Knicks still have another critical hire to make in the front office. Craig Robinson left the organization, a league source confirmed, to take over as the executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Robinson had been the Knicks’ VP of player development since 2017, when he was hired by former president Steve Mills.

Robinson’s exit had been expected for months. He was a holdover from the Mills regime, and his contract was set to expire next month. The Knicks had already been putting out feelers for someone to replace him before he left.

Whoever the Knicks hire to take over player development will have an important job. The roster is filled with young and talented players but who have shown limited or stilted growth in their careers. Strong player development has been the backbone of contending teams, and the ability to find and develop late picks and undrafted players into contributing rotation members or starters has powered teams such as the Raptors, Spurs, Bucks and others. The Knicks also have had uneven results from their top-10 picks, leaving them at risk of attaining little value from years atop the draft.

It would be nice to have player development be an asset here instead of a detriment.

SNY.com: Knicks interview Mike Woodson with head coaching decision expected by July 31

From Ian Begley:

Former Knicks coach Mike Woodson interviewed for the club’s head-coaching vacancy on Friday, sources said.

Friday was Woodson’s second interview with the club. Woodson and all other candidates had initial interviews with the Knicks last month or in the first week of July.

The Knicks’ second-round interviews are expected to conclude in the coming days. It is unclear if any candidates will be asked to interview a third time.

New York plans to make a decision its next head coach before July 31, when the NBA resumes its regular season in Orlando.

It’s interesting that they are planning on dragging this out for another 20 days.

Speaking of dragging things out for seemingly eternity, we’ve consciously uncoupled with one of our commenters, bobneptune.

SNY.com: Knicks Mailbag: What would you do as the team’s GM?

Ian Bagley did a mailbag at SNY and he had an interesting question about what he would do if he were made GM of the Knicks with a relatively long term contract:

@Bennie_Blanco: Play the GM role and tell us what moves you would make to improve next season
How many years do I have on my contract? If I have long-term job security, I’m using my picks to draft players, continuing to try to find a strong young core to build around and one that’s attractive to free agents. If I’m on a short-term deal, I would, selfishly, take more of a ‘quick fix’ approach to try to get this team in the playoffs ASAP so I can keep my job.

For argument’s sake, let’s say I have a five-year deal with a team option for the fifth season.

In that case, I’d look for a lead guard who can knock shots down with my lottery pick. I think this type of guard can benefit Robinson and Barrett. I’d also look for a perimeter shooter/big man who can shoot later in the draft (New York has a late first-round pick and early second-round pick).

Again, I’m thinking of benefitting Barrett and Robinson – and balancing out my roster – with these selections.

I’d use my cap space this summer to do one of the following: trade for an unwanted contract and acquire draft picks/young players in the deal; overpay for a young player in free agency by offering a big-money, short-term contract; if OKC will agree to a deal that doesn’t include future draft picks or Barrett/Robinson, trade for Chris Paul and see if he is open to restructuring his contract (if it’s allowed under the next CBA). Getting Paul on the roster will jumpstart the Knicks’ effort to build a winning culture and benefit New York’s young players exponentially, I think.

No one on my roster would be totally off limits in trade talks. If the opportunity to trade for a young, ascendant star presented itself, I’d be open to packaging picks/young players to get the deal done.

Lastly, depending on how the offseason goes, I would sell my roster on the idea of trying to make the playoffs in 2020-21. This, ideally, would engender a winner’s mentality among the young Knicks. But I wouldn’t be upset if we ended up in strong lottery position again in 2021, when the draft is expected to include several talented players.

I think some of those ideas are a bit contrary to each other (“I’d take on players for draft picks, but also trade for Chris Paul’s gigantic contract without getting anything in return”), but for the most part, I think Begley’s take on the future of the team is reasonable enough.

What do you folks think about his ideas?