Assistants who could join Tom Thibodeau’s staff: Rod Strickland
Rod Strickland was drafted by the Knicks in 1988 and played 132 games with the team before being shipped off to San Antonio for Maurice Cheeks. However, the Bronx native is a strong candidate to return to New York in some role, given his relationship with Leon Rose and William Wesley. Rose was Strickland’s agent during his playing days.
It has been rumored that ever since Leon Rose was named President of Basketball Operations, Strickland was a name to look out for in an advisory role or coaching role. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News listed him as a potential name for an assistant coaching job.
Like Kenny Payne, Strickland coached under John Calipari at the University of Memphis and Kentucky, developing a reputation for player development. He is currently the G League program manager and has developed a tight bond with William Wesley and Leon Rose.
Rod Strickland is Kyrie Irving’s godfather and spent a lot of time around St. Patrick’s High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is a connected individual with strong New York roots and is a fixture at various NYC basketball venues.
Strickland checks all the boxes for a successful basketball player. He experienced success at the AAU, high school, college, and NBA levels, making him a relatable figure for top prospects. All those attributes made him the ideal candidate for the head of the G League’s development program, and the G League has recently poached many top prospects like Jalen Green from college.
It is hard to think that Strickland would abandon the program just when it was succeeding, but it will be a test of just how strong the relationship between Rose, Wesley, and Strickland is.
Strickland trained with various Golden State Warriors players last offseason and even trained with the Knicks’ Kevin Knox.
Strickland was chiefly responsible for the development of John Wall at Kentucky and Kyrie Irving in high school. He took them under his wing and developed them into number one picks and future stars.
If the Knicks can hire Rod Strickland away from the G League, it would bolster Thibodeau’s staff with another player development guru that has been in the shoes of young players trying to find a footing in the league.
Strickland would be great for RJ Barrett and could help revive Dennis Smith Jr and Kevin Knox’s careers. He would give the Knicks another developmental coach that can relate to players.