Sports Illustrated: Top 5 Former Tom Thibodeau Players Who Could Wind Up on the Knicks

Jonathan Macri had an interesting bit:

If you didn’t groan (or grunt, in the spirit of the Knicks new head coach) after seeing the title of this article, you’re a kinder soul than most.

Of all the knocks on Tom Thibodeau – that he’s relentless with practices (not true), that he buries his young players (it depends), or that he’s lost his defensive edge (remains to be seen) – the one that can’t really be denied is his penchant for relying on those he’s comfortable with.

In Minnesota, President of Basketball Operations Thibs went out and acquired former Bulls Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, Derrick Rose and Aaron Brooks for coach Thibs to inject into his rotation. In just two-and-a-half years on the job, five former players has to be considered a lot.

In New York, Thibodeau won’t be wearing both hats, but it’s foolish to assume he won’t have some input on the roster, especially with more than half of the spots potentially up for grabs.

With that in mind, let’s look at the top five former Thibodeau players who could wind up wearing orange and blue, the likelihood each becomes a Knick, and whether it would be a good idea or not.

(One name you won’t see here: Jimmy Butler. The Heat are surely gearing up for a run at Giannis, not at the expense of Butler, but to pair them up. If three times ends up being the charm for Thibs and Jimmy Buckets, it won’t be for some time from now)

Click the article to see the reasoning for his picks, but it boils down to:

5. Dario Saric (under 10% chance)
4. Jeff Teague (15-20%)
3. Zach LaVine (25%)
2. Taj Gibson (50%)
1. DJ Augustin (better than 50%)

As Macri notes, Augustin might not be the ideal move in terms of blocking other players, but since the Knicks likely will be trying to win, he makes some sense as a stopgap.

NY Post: Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks rebuild starts now: ‘A dream come true’

I just thought it was funny that this was the most subdued New York Post article about the Thibodeau hiring. It really reads like the Post is saying, “Please, we need a new inside source! Look at the fawning press we can offer you!”

Here’s Marc Berman:

New Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau grew up in New Britain, Conn., and still owns his old house — 85 miles from the Knicks’ practice site in Tarrytown.

During his introductory Zoom press conference Thursday, Thibodeau referred to his new position as his “dream job.’’ He said it four times.

“This is a dream come true for me,’’ Thibodeau said. “This is my dream job. … Maybe part of that, I grew up in Connecticut. My father, my family, we grew up as Knicks fans. I’ve been there before, I have a great understanding of New York. I think we have the best city in the world, best arena and the best fans. I was there throughout the ’90s and that was an incredible experience.’’

For the first time in nearly eight months, the Knicks officially have a permanent head coach. They announced it on the first day of the NBA’s 22-team restart, as the Knicks try to restart their dead franchise that has missed the playoffs seven straight years.

Larry Brown once called the Knicks his “dream job’’ and left after one 17-65 disaster. Thibodeau is a former assistant coach from the 1990s glory days who went on to become a marquee coach with the Bulls and even broke Minnesota’s 13-year playoff drought in 2018.

But now Thibodeau may face a bigger task with James Dolan’s moribund Knicks. Asked how he can turn around a perennial mess, Thibodeau didn’t shy away from mentioning a championship, which the team hasn’t won in 47 years.

“You don’t make major jumps without going through each step,” he said. “So I think the first step is to establish the work ethic and how we want to play. There’s a lot of work to do. One of the most important things when you’re studying a team is just to look at efficiency, and when you see your [net rating] is a minus-6.54, you realize there’s a lot of work. And hopefully we can get the players to play for each other and start building those habits.

“Of course the ultimate goal is to bring a championship back to the city, where it’s synonymous with winning and championships, and that’s in New York.’’

Knicks president Leon Rose will be on the hook if Thibodeau’s old-school ways don’t work. Rose, his former agent at Creative Artists Agency, said there was “a comfort level’’ in hiring Thibodeau because of their long-term relationship.

Rose called the 62-year-old Thibodeau “the perfect candidate for this job from the standpoint of he’s going to demand accountability, he’s going to have development and he’s going to create a winning culture.”

“We hired not only a great basketball coach but an elite coach,” Rose said. “His principles and goals embody everything Knicks basketball represents.”

Thibs defended his Minnesota experience as, “It was more of a total rebuild, a team that had not won a lot for a long time. So I think you take from each experience, but each experience is different.” Ah, yes, Minnesota, with Karl-Anthony Towns and then Jimmy Butler in year two, was more of a “total rebuild,” different from this gig. Good point, Thibs.

He then described the three reasons he wanted this job so bad, and at least here, it made some sense, and wasn’t “No, no, Minnesota was a total rebuild. That’s much different than the Knicks right now for…reasons”), as he noted, “The three main reasons why this job was so appealing to me was the current roster that we have now is young and talented and there’s room for growth. That’s exciting to me. Secondly, is to work for Leon and Wes [William Wesley], two people I’ve known for an extremely long time. And thirdly is all the draft picks that have been acquired and also the cap space. We have many different ways to improve the team.” If you were to come up with reasons to want to coach the New York Knicks, that would be what you’d say, right? So can’t quibble with Thibs there. That was fine.

The whole press interactions by Rose and Thibs were fine. They said all of the right things.

We’re now a couple of months away from seeing what Rose will actually do with this team.

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 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?

ESPN.com: Knicks hire CAA’s William Wesley to advisory role

From Woj:

The New York Knicks have hired CAA’s William Wesley as executive vice president/senior basketball adviser, the team announced Wednesday.

Wesley has been a consultant in the coaching division of CAA for 13 years and has a long professional and personal relationship with new Knicks president Leon Rose.

Rose and Wesley worked together at CAA and have a history back to their starts in New Jersey.

“My long history with and respect for Jim Dolan and Leon Rose, as well as the chance to be part of the New York Knicks, made this an opportunity I wanted to pursue,” Wesley said in a statement. “I look forward to joining the current staff and moving the organization toward a successful future.”

Known as World Wide Wes in basketball circles, Wesley is considered one of the great connectors and relationship builders in the sport. Wesley joins a front office that includes Rose, general manager Scott Perry and chief strategist Brock Aller.

Rose said in a statement that Wesley is “one of the most well-connected and respected people in the basketball community and he will be a tremendous asset and resource to both myself and the New York Knicks.”

This had been rumored at the time that Rose was hired, but was premature at the time since Wesley was under contract with CAA at the time.

It’s probably a meaningless hire either way. He has worked with Rose for years, so it makes sense Rose would bring a guy with him.

I don’t think it means that the Knicks will starfuck any more than they were already going to starfuck (which could be a lot no matter what).

Knicks Realize They Are Interviewing Too Many Good Head Coaching Candidates, Add Jason Kidd and Mike Brown to the Mix

As noted, the Knicks had put together a compelling list of head coaching candidates, where only Thibs and Mike Woodson were typical retread candidates. Their list of candidates was really intriguing and taken by many, including me, as a good sign that Leon Rose might actually know what he’s doing.

So the Knicks have realized that that list wasn’t Knicksy enough and have now added Jason Kidd and Mike Brown to the list.

What’s funny is that if you’ve foolishly latched on to some silly “Thibs must be a good coach! Just look at his career winning percentage!” argument, then you’d certainly have to say that Mike Brown is even more impressive, as he has an even higher career winning percentage than Thibs (and he took a second team to the playoffs and won a playoff series, which is more than Thibs has done). And they both have Coach of the Year awards. But luckily, most of us get how stupid “Just look at his winning percentage!” sounds, or else we’d be pushing for Tyronn Lue, who also has a higher winning percentage than Thibs and is the only one of the three coaches (Thibs, Brown and Lue) to have won a title as a coach.

The rumor with Kidd is that the Knicks think that he would help them with Giannis. That sure sounds like one of the dumbest, Knicksy thing, huh?

I’m going to assume/hope that these two new additions to the now ten-person interview list don’t mean much, but hey, ya never know.

ESPN.com: Sources: Kyrie Irving plays key role in Friday call with players

From Woj:

When the National Basketball Players Association conducted a conference call and vote on restarting the season a week ago, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was an active participant — although his questions were of a mundane nature.

Sources say Irving asked, as an injured player, if he would count among the Nets’ allotted 35 people should he want to join the Orlando, Florida, bubble. Could he sit in the stands to cheer on his teammates? Use a sauna for his rehab?

He had a question about NBA sponsors on campus, and whether they would be supplying players with products. A union official asked him for an example, and Irving mentioned a popular adult beverage — before insisting that he had indeed simply shared an example — and wondered what food might be provided to players under league partnerships.

All in all, his inquiries weren’t of weighty consequence.

There were two dozen-plus team representatives and several more executive committee members on the call, and Irving’s stature as one of the NBPA’s six elected vice presidents, in addition to his credentials as an NBA champion and All-Star Game MVP, elevated him among those peers voting on the call. The final tally: 28-0.

Looking back, the call itself was much less a discussion on the merits of restarting the season, and much more a Q&A with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and president Chris Paul on the mechanics and rules expected to govern teams, players and the bubble environment, sources said.

So, yes, it surprised several of his NBPA colleagues that Irving — lost for the season with shoulder surgery in March — was simultaneously lending his voice to a far different discussion with rank-and-file union members on upending the league’s plans for a 22-team restart at Disney World in Orlando, sources said.

On a call that included nearly 100 players and several stars on Friday night, Irving made an impassioned plea for players to make a stand and sit out the season’s resumption in Orlando, sources said. Around 90 minutes in length, the call included several players suggesting they’d be willing to sit out the season — and numerous more discussing social issues, league economics and, ultimately, a sense that they needed to be united in a decision.

Where it leads the NBA now remains unclear. Even after the call, there was still a belief within the league that the NBA would have the players’ support it needed to resume the season, but no one could be as sure as they seemed to be a mere week ago.

What a fascinating turn of events. With Lebron pushing players to support re-opening, I would bet on that side ultimately winning, but it’s interesting to see what will happen here.