Knicks make Tom Thibodeau hire official

For the first time in nearly eight months, the Knicks officially have a permanent head coach.

On the morning of the first day of the NBA’s 22-team restart, the Knicks restarted their own franchise by announcing the hiring of defensive wizard Tom Thibodeau, their former assistant coach from the 1990’s glory days.

Knicks president Leon Rose has been close to Thibodeau for several years as a client for Creative Artists Agency, which Rose used to run.

“Tom Thibodeau is a proven winner who gets the most out of the players and teams that he has coached,” Rose said in a release. “He will bring leadership, accountability and a hard-working mentality to our organization. we are excited to bring him back to New York and look forward to collaborating with him and his staff toward a successful future.”

On Saturday, Thibodeau agreed to terms on a five-year deal. Terms were not announced but some league insiders estimate the deal could be worth at least $25 million — even with a pandemic discount that likely will cause Thibodeau’s Knicks debut to be played without fans.

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“I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to this historic franchise as head coach and work alongside a talented front office that I have great trust and respect for,” Thibodeau said in the release. “I know what New York is like when the Knicks are successful and there is nothing comparable. I look forward to being a part of what we are building here and can’t wait to get to work.”

Despite allegations the 62-year-old Thibodeau’s demanding style doesn’t jive with the millennial players, the Knicks, who have missed the playoffs for seven straight seasons, are adding a coach with the best winning percentage (.589, 352-246) of any head coach hired in the past two seasons.

The former Bulls and Timberwolves head coach won NBA Coach of the Year in 2011 with Chicago, which he steered to five straight playoff berths. Thibodeau then broke Minnesota’s 13-year playoff drought. However, there are charges he didn’t connect with Minnesota’s young players and he was fired in January 2019.

Thibodeau will likely get an early gift of running team mini-camps in mid-August for the eight clubs not in Orlando.

Thibodeau has trusted assistants Andy Greer, Larry Greer and Dice Yoshimoto he’d like to hire, but Knicks VP William Wesley is pushing to add a more diverse staff. Mike Woodson, the former Knicks head coach, and Mike Miller, their recent interim coach, are strong candidates to be with Thibodeau.

The Knicks interviewed a total of 11 coaches, with the search beginning June 4 after the NBA announced the team would not be part of the restart. And the Knicks waited for almost before tip-off to make their hire official after owner James Dolan had David Fizdale fired on Dec. 4.

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