Tom Thibodeau has been considered the frontrunner for the Knicks coaching job since the day Leon Rose was hired as team president.
New York has done its due diligence talking to other candidates — Jason Kidd, Kenny Atkinson, Mike Woodson, Mike Brown, Ime Udoka, Will Hardy, Pat Delaney, Jamahl Mosley, Chris Fleming, and Knicks interim coach Mike Miller — but through it all Thibodeau remained the frontrunner, according to multiple sources around the league.
Thursday Thibodeau finally got his turn,
Thibodeau wants to return to NBA coaching and his decades-long friendship with Rose appears to give him an inside track.
The big question becomes, is Thibodeau the right fit? Which leads to a couple of other questions: What style of team are the Knicks trying to build? And, how do they intend to build it?
Thibodeau has shown previously to be a win-now coach who leans on veterans and a short rotation. If New York is looking to draft and develop a core of young players that can be a long-lasting foundation for winning in the future, it’s fair to ask if Thibodeau the best coach for that task. Thibodeau says he has grown and will bring a broader perspective to his next job.
The Knicks have a couple of players that could be part of a long-term rebuild, but also feel they are well positioned to trade for a star if one becomes available. As the Lakers did, the Knicks are looking to stockpile good young players, try to win with them, but if the right trade comes along — Anthony Davis for the Lakers — they will send the youth out the door. All of this sounds good, but to make it work, the new coach needs to build a player-development program in New York, something that has never been a strong suit for the franchise.
Whichever way the rebuild goes, and whoever gets the Knicks job, there is a lot of work to do to build a winner.