Report: Knicks finalizing deal to make Tom Thibodeau next coach

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The Knicks did their due diligence and brought in 11 people to interview for the job — and the contract negotiations played out in public a little — but the next coach of the New York Knicks was always destined to be Tom Thibodeau.

Now the deal is in place, Thibodeau and the Knicks are nearing agreement on a five-year contract, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The hesitation from James Dolan and New York that led to the Jason Kidd rumors in the last 48 hours always seemed to be a contract negotiation tactic. In the wake of the coronavirus impact, owners are looking to pay less and on shorter deals — they want to save money. Thibodeau had options — it’s expected the Rockets will be looking for a new coach after the restart and Thibodeau’s name had come up — and New York always was going to have to give him the five years expected for a coach of his status.

The Knicks are betting they can make this fit work. However, to make it possible for any coach to win the Knicks front office is going to have to bring in a lot more talent.

At his previous stops, Thibodeau has shown to be a win-now coach who leans on veterans and a short rotation. That’s not where the Knicks are right now as a franchise. New York is rebuilding around a core young players — particularly Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett, plus this year’s pick — who can be a long-lasting foundation for winning in the future. While Thibodeau coached the youngest MVP in league history in Derrick Rose, and helped grow Jimmy Butler into a franchise player, his player development resume is spotty. He also tends to just run guys into the ground with excessive minutes and hard practices. Thibodeau says he has grown and will bring a broader perspective to his next job.

The Knicks also believe they are well positioned to trade for a star when one becomes available. They need to follow the Lakers’ model of recent years: Stockpile and develop good young players, try to win with them, but if the right trade comes along — Anthony Davis for the Lakers — send the youth out for a proven winner. To make that work, Thibodeau needs to build a player-development program in New York, something that has never been a strong suit for the franchise.

The Knicks have a lot of work to do, but they have their man in Tom Thibodeau now.