Former Chicago Bulls: Tom Thibodeau leader to be next Knicks head coach

Tom Thibodeau (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Tom Thibodeau (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /

The former Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is looking like he is atop the list of leading candidates to be the next New York Knicks head coach.

The most high-profile coaching search that is happening at the moment in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic-induced NBA season hiatus involves the New York Knicks. Earlier this season, the Knicks parted ways with former head coach David Fizdale in a somewhat surprising move that seemed premature. But now the Knicks could be looking into a former Chicago Bulls head coach that found a lot of success in the regular season in the Eastern Conference within the last decade, Tom Thibodeau.

According to a report from Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (paid content) on May 27, the former Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Thibodeau is the leading candidate in the Knicks head coaching search at the moment.

There were other whispers (New York Post reports) in the last couple months that mentioned Thibodeau with the likes of the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets. If the Rockets parted ways with current head coach Mike D’Antoni, that would automatically become one of the most desirable coaching jobs open in the NBA. And the Nets already have a high-profile and potentially desirable job opening after letting go of former head coach Kenny Atkinson earlier this season.

Moreover, Thibodeau was on the coaching free agent market since the Timberwolves let him go about halfway through the 2018-19 regular season. In about two and a half seasons as head coach in Minneapolis, Thibodeau posted a record of 97-107. He didn’t get the Timberwolves into the playoffs but once in his three years at the helm (and they were ousted in five games in a first round series).

During his five seasons as the Bulls head coach, Thibodeau posted a regular season record of 394-255. He also registered a playoff record with the Bulls of 23-28. When he was first hired as head coach of the Bulls for the 2010-11 season, Thibodeau won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. He was also a six time recipient of the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honors during his time with the Bulls, spread over three different regular seasons.

Thibodeau was let go from the Bulls just as the inklings of a potential rebuild were in the cards under the direction of John Paxson and Gar Forman as the lead executives in the front office. He posted a 50-32 record during the 2014-15 campaign, and got them through to the second round of the playoffs before they were eliminated by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Once Thibodeau was removed from his head coaching post in the Windy City, he was replaced by former head coach Fred Hoiberg. That didn’t turn out to be a great hire for the Bulls, and the hiring of current head coach Jim Boylen with a three-year contract extension last offseason to remove his interim tag was even worse.

Furthermore, the Knicks could do worse in their coaching search than hiring Thibodeau. He’s found some level of success at most of his stops and would bring that famous toughness back to a young Knicks team.

Next. Pros and cons of keeping Lauri Markkanen. dark

The Knicks young core is currently highlighted by the likes of rookie wing R.J. Barrett, center Mitchell Robinson, and point guard Dennis Smith Jr. They have a long way to go, as do the Bulls. But both big market teams that are struggling at the moment in the East could be making significant and positive coaching changes heading into the impending offseason.