After a 4-18 start to the 2019-20 season, David Fizdale was relieved of his duties as head coach of the New York Knicks on December 19, and Mike Miller became the team’s interim head coach. While the NBA season has yet to resume play following a suspension of play due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has continued its search for a permanent head coach. According to a recent report, former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves headman Tom Thibodeau may be the front-runner for the job.
In a report for the New York Daily News on Saturday, NBA scribe Stefan Bondy said that Thibodeau is the “heavy favorite” to fill the vacancy and become the Knicks’ next head coach.
Miller will reportedly get consideration for removing the interim label from his job title. Meanwhile, Bondy noted that The Athletic’s indication that former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson is expected to interview for the job as well. Additionally, Bondy believes that Kentucky coach John Calipari could also be a candidate, citing chatter around the league that Calipari’s connection to Knicks President Leon Rose, via William Wesley, could come into play.
However, Thibodeau has the most significant NBA resume among reported candidates and also previously spent eight years with the Knicks as an assistant coach from 1996 to 2004 under then-coach Jeff Van Gundy.
Thibodeau initially rose to prominence in 2008 as Doc Rivers’ associate head coach with the Boston Celtics. That year, their team won the NBA championship after going 66-16 during the regular season and defeating Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 in the NBA Finals.
In 2010, he became an NBA head coach for the first time after spending two decades as an assistant when he was hired by the Bulls. Over the next five season, he directed the Bulls to three 50-plus win seasons, including a 62-20 campaign in his first year with the team. Over that span, Chicago never suffered a losing season.
He later joined the Timberwolves and led the team to a 47-35 record and its first postseason appearance in 14 years during his second season in Minnesota. However, he was fired by the club mid-way through his third year.
The Knicks, meanwhile, have struggled to maintain consistent leadership, both on the sidelines and in the front office, for several years. Over the last seven years, six men have coached the team, none of whom managed better than Mike Woodson’s 37-win season in 2013-14 during that period. However, Woodson did direct the club to 54 wins one year earlier.
As reported by The Inquisitr, the Knicks may not be the only team vying for Thibodeau’s services. The Nets and Houston Rockets could have “strong interest” as well.