With the departure of Kenny Payne for a head coaching job of his own, New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau has a vacancy next to him on the bench. Alvin Gentry might be exactly what Thibodeau and the Knicks need.
The Athletic’s Fred Katz went on the Knicks Fan TV podcast with CP “The Fanchise” and discussed the idea of Thibodeau bringing in an offensive coordinator during the offseason.
Katz explained that a move of that nature would be out of character based on what he knows about Thibodeau. Katz mentioned Gentry as an example of someone New York would be unlikely to hire.
And yet, I cannot stop thinking about how he would be an ideal fit on paper. If Thibodeau can be convinced to bring in a coach to help modernize his offense, Gentry would check a lot of boxes that fans, players, and even Thibodeau himself would appreciate.
Adding Alvin Gentry to his staff could be just the thing Thibodeau needs to get the Knicks back to the playoffs.
With Gentry comes a pace of play that fans would appreciate. Dating back to the 2013-2014 season, Gentry’s teams (both as an assistant and head coach) have finished no lower than 10th in pace, per Basketball-Reference. In five of those nine seasons, the team was also top five in the league in points per game.
That pace of play would also have a positive impact on Knicks players like RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin, who thrive offensively in a full-court game.
Gentry’s addition might have an even bigger impact on another player: Julius Randle. Randle had one of his most effective seasons as a pro under Gentry playing with the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2018-2019 season.
Per NBA.com, Randle recorded the highest offensive rating of his career while simultaneously playing with the fastest pace.
And lest you think this effectiveness was due to Anthony Davis always having the ball in his hand, Randle also had the third-highest usage rate of his entire career. Thibodeau himself has argued that playing with an increased pace would benefit Randle.
This brings us to Thibodeau himself. Adding Gentry to a high-level assistant coaching position has done wonders for several other NBA head coaches.
Doc Rivers hired him as associate head coach in his first year with the Los Angeles Clippers before leading the league in points and offensive rating. Steve Kerr did the same thing with the Golden State Warriors the ensuing season on the way to a championship.
Those rosters were well-constructed before Gentry’s arrival. When he joined Luke Walton’s staff with the Sacramento Kings, the team’s offense improved from 18th to 11th in offensive rating and 22nd to 11th in points. Thibodeau should strongly consider adding Gentry this offseason.