Tom Thibodeau’s first media availability as New York Knicks head coach was all about positivity and looking towards the future.
Life is coming full circle for Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks. The grizzled veteran of a head coach is returning to the place he once called home to coach the team he grew up rooting for in Connecticut. Thibodeau was an assistant on Jeff Van Gundy’s staff in the ’90s when the Knicks were among the toughest teams in the NBA.
“This a dream come true for me,” Thibodeau said in a Zoom press conference. “This is my dream job”
“Maybe part of that is I grew up in Connecticut,” Thibs later continued. “My father, my family, we grew up as Knicks fans. I think I experienced it during the ’90s that there’s no better place to be than Madison Square Garden. And so I love challenges, I love that city, I love the arena, I love the fans and I’m excited about the team.”
Aside from some front-office maneuvering and a few minor roster moves here and there, this is Leon Rose‘s first major move as team president.
“Tom Thibodeau is a proven winner who gets the most out of the players and teams that he has coached,” said Rose. “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.”
We knew Thibodeau was the frontrunner to land this job for quite some time, but the Knicks made sure to conduct an exhaustive search for the job. Credit for that, but again, this always seemed like Thibodeau’s job if he wanted it.
Now that he has it, what’s he going to do with it?
Three Reasons For Thibodeau
“The three main reasons the job was appealing to me was the current roster that we have now,” Thibodeau explained. “It’s young and talented, and there’s room for growth — and that’s exciting. Secondly is to work for Leon (Rose) and Wes (William Wesley), two people that I’ve known an extremely long time. I’m just getting to know Scott (Perry) now. He’s one of the most respected executives in the league. And then thirdly, all of the draft picks that have been acquired, and also the cap space that we have. We have many different ways to improve the team.”
We already know all about the Knicks’ draft capital and cap space. Thibodeau’s relationship with his former CAA agent who is now running the Knicks is well documented. Let’s drill deeper into that “young and talented, and there’s room for growth” part.
The Knicks’ “young and talented” core consists of RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina, and Kevin Knox. There are other guys on the roster who are in that conversation as well, but these are the homegrown first-round picks—with the exception of Robinson.
Here’s what Thibodeau has to say about that group:
“Just based on film I’ve seen, I really think that RJ (Barrett) has a very bright future, as does Mitchell Robinson. So those are two that stand out, but I think we have a lot of young talent. I don’t like to make qualifications on people until I get around them.”
“With Frank (Ntilikina) and Kevin (Knox), they’re both young guys that have talent. That being said, as I mentioned earlier, I’m not making any real observations or evaluations until I get to be around them.”
There’s no point in making any sweeping conclusions based on the hire of Tom Thibodeau, yet. The Knicks wanted a proven head coach who knows what its like to coach in New York City. They’re getting that now.
The real hard part comes next.