The New York Knicks tip off with the Chicago Bulls today at 1 pm. With the Knicks in shambles, rapidly falling out of the playoff picture, the Bulls have marched on without Derrick Rose and Luol Deng to a winning record and fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
With the Knicks in turmoil, the biggest questions surrounding the team’s future have been around Carmelo Anthony’s free agency and Mike Woodson’s job safety. At this point, it seems as though the Knicks will ride out this season with Woodson rather than firing him with 23 games to go, but the latest New York Knicks rumors say the team is targeting Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Via Marc Berman:
If the Knicks can’t get [Jeff] Van Gundy out of coaching retirement — and they may try — Thibodeau’s name likely would top the Knicks’ list.
An obvious problem is Thibodeau, the former Knicks assistant under Van Gundy and later Don Chaney, still has three years left on his Bulls’ contract. Multiple sources confirm Thibodeau’s relationship with Bulls general manager Gar Forman could lead to a breakup after the season, when the Knicks could swoop in. Forman wouldn’t renew the contract of one of Thibodeau’s assistants, and friend, Ron Adams.
Thibodeau is obviously a remarkable coach. Despite his success with healthier, deeper Bulls teams in past years, this season may be his most impressive as he’s dragged a team led by Joakim Noah to a top-four seed and likely home-court advantage in the playoffs. And if the Knicks could land Thibodeau, it’d obviously be a big seeling point to Anthony this summer.
However, Bulls Vice President John Paxson isn’t so quick to let Thibs leave.
“He is not going anywhere,” Paxson said. “I don’t think it’s a stretch to say our team is the best prepared in the NBA with Tom as our head coach.”
Any play for Thibodeau might cost the Knicks a first-round draft pick, which they don’t have. Hence, it still seems a long shot.
“He loves Chicago,’’ a coaching source who has worked with Thibodeau told The Post. “They gave him his first head-coaching opportunity. I don’t know why coaches and GMs don’t get along better. But when someone throws a boatload of money at you?”
Thibodeau and Van Gundy are obviously long-shots, but if the Knicks desire to a.) keep Carmelo Anthony around, b.) hope to attract future free agents, and c.) get to a championship level, they need to hire experienced, capable coaches to get them there. No matter how far-fetched it may seem.
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