After speculation aplenty over the future of New York Knicks’ head coaching job, Tom Thibodeau is now set to ink a five-year deal to become their new man in charge.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Knicks president Leon Rose and agent Spencer Breecker of CAA Sports were working today to complete contractual terms.
A signed agreement and official announcement is expected in the near future, according to those same sources.
As I first reported last month, Rose and executive vice president William Wesley are completing a two-month search process for their new head coach.
Many supporters and critics alike have praised their diligence during the interview process, which included credible candidates across the league.
Although Thibs was linked with Brooklyn and Houston, the 62-year-old will be tasked with a difficult rebuild job in New York at a dwindling franchise.
They finished 21-45 this season, missing out on this month’s Orlando resumption and have missed the postseason for a seventh successive year.
Julius Randle led the team in three of the five main categories (points, assists and rebounds) this term and has two years left on his $62m deal.
2019 number three draft pick RJ Barrett impressed in flashes too, while 22-year-old center Mitchell Robinson is firmly part of an ever-growing young core.
New York need Thibodeau – who has player development experience – to integrate a program restoring a much more competitive edge with the Knicks.
That’s easier said than done considering their bloated roster. It features the likes of Wayne Ellington, Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson, who are owed a combined $33m salary in 2020-21.
Thibodeau is 11th in career winning percentage for coaches with 500 or more games. He has a 352-246 (58.9%) record, after eight seasons with Chicago and Minnesota.
Positive reactions from fellow coaches, former players
Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford, a close friend of his, had nothing but praise after finding out during the Magic’s scrimmage against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“It’s great news. Look, he’s one of my closest friends – one of the league’s best coaches and understands New York.
He was in New York for a long time. New York is a different animal. He understands the fan base, New York media, and he’s a great, great coach. So he’ll do great there and it’s a great hire on their part.”
Magic point guard D.J. Augustin, who enjoyed a career renaissance under Thibodeau in 2013-14 with the Bulls, said he enjoyed his experience alongside a demanding head coach, appreciating how hard he coached.
“He was a great coach, great guy, great motivator, so I’m really happy for him and I’m excited he got that job. That’s a great job for him and for that organization.”
For more on this story and how Thibodeau has his work cut out in New York, read this piece on The Athletic (subscription required).
Quotes source: ESPN