Although rumors have mostly linked former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau to the New York Knicks, a recent report suggests that two other teams — the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets — might also be hoping to hire the former Coach of the Year awardee for the 2020-21 season.
On Monday, Marc Berman of the New York Post provided an update on Thibodeau’s situation, noting that he is apparently “itching to get back” to coaching, three years after he was fired by the Timberwolves, where he served as both head coach and team president. Earlier this year, the publication suggested that he was among the people recently hired Knicks president Leon Rose had shortlisted as a potential coaching hire for 2020-21, should he choose not to promote interim coach Mike Miller to a permanent position.
Despite the backlash Thibodeau received in his previous coaching stops, Berman noted that the Nets and the Rockets have “strong interest” in the former Knicks assistant. Like the Knicks, Brooklyn is currently led by an interim coach in Jacque Vaughn, while reports last month suggested that Mike D’Antoni is expected to leave Houston once his contract expires at the end of the 2019-20 season.
“It appears Thibodeau would have interest in all three jobs,” Berman added. “But the Knicks would get first crack at their former assistant coach since they won’t be competing in any potential playoffs.”
Rockets will have a "strong interest" in Tom Thibodeau with D'Antoni a free agent after 2019-20, per @NYPostBerman
Nets and Knicks are also interested in Thibs pic.twitter.com/Fp7ZejRoFn
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) May 5, 2020
As pointed out by Bleacher Report, Thibodeau has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the NBA’s best defensive coaches. However, the outlet elaborated on the flak he received during his previous head coaching stints. While in charge of the Bulls, he was accused of giving too many minutes to his top players during regular-season action and putting them at greater risk of injury in postseason play. He also reportedly had issues with Bulls management when he was on his way out of Chicago.
Talking about Thibodeau’s time in Minnesota, Berman mentioned his alleged clashes with Timberwolves stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, with Towns particularly calling his former coach out for mishandling young players. It was also noted that Thibodeau has been criticized for being “too intense” and being “out of touch” with such youngsters, who are generally more accustomed to the modern NBA climate of load management and easier practice schedules.
Meanwhile, it appears that among Thibodeau’s two supposed suitors who may be competing against the Knicks for his services, the Nets might have the inside track as compared to the Rockets. Berman wrote that the superstar duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has great respect for Thibodeau, who was working as an assistant coach for Team USA when they both represented America in international play.