The New York Knicks and Tom Thibodeau are hammering out the details to make him the team’s next coach.
The contract is reportedly for five years.
An announcement is imminent.
The Knicks went 21-45 this season. David Fizdale was axed after a 4-18 start, and Mike Miller worked as the team’s interim head coach for the rest of the season. They are one of eight teams not participating in the NBA restart at Walt Disney World.
Before making a final decision, the Knicks spoke to 11 coaching candidates, according to published reports.
Tom Thibodeau’s coaching history
The intense, demanding Thibodeau, considered a defensive guru, has previously led the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves. The 62-year-old who was a Knicks assistant under Jeff Van Gundy and other coaches from 1996-2004.
Thibodeau owns a 352-246 regular-season coaching record with the Bulls (2010-15) and Timberwolves (2016-19; he was fired after a 19-21 start in his final season at the helm).
He was named the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year, and guided the Bulls (62-20) to the Eastern Conference finals that season. What’s more, the Bulls made the playoffs in each of Thibodeau’s five seasons in charge.
Tom Thibodeau joined the expansion Timberwolves as an assistant coach in 1989, and has worked in the NBA ever since, including stints as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs, and the Philadelphia 76ers. He served as the associate head coach on Doc Rivers’ Boston Celtics staff from 2007-10. Thibodeau concocted defensive schemes that helped the Celtics capture the 2008 NBA title.
Lofty praise for Thibodeau
San Antonio Spurs bench boss Gregg Popovich endorsed the Knicks’ pursuit of Tom Thibodeau.
“Tommy’s a seasoned veteran who it goes without saying understands what wins and what loses,” Popovich told The Associated Press. “He knows how to put a program together, create a culture and be demanding — and at the same time, make people accountable.”
Another NBA coach, who spoke to the New York Post, also believes Thibodeau is the right man for the Knicks.
“His attention to detail is as good as it gets,’’ the coach told The Post. “No rock is left unturned. Off the court he has a better sense of humor than anyone expects and a good moral compass.’’
A revolving door
Twelve men have coached the Knicks since Van Gundy stepped down 19 games into 2001-02 season.