We are deep into the finger pointing chapter of this disappointing Knicks season (they are 28-40, 5.5 games out of even the last play-in spot). In a bit of palace intrigue, there were reports front office power William Wesley was pointing his finger at coach Tom Thibodeau and doing so to owner James Dolan.
That led to a lot of speculation Thibodeau was on the hot seat. However, that’s not the case, he is safe the rest of this season and beyond, reports Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
Knicks governor James Dolan had granted the front office permission to either remove Thibodeau or retain him, sources said. But team president Leon Rose has no plans to make any change on the Knicks’ bench, sources said. Thibodeau maintains a frequent dialogue with Dolan following each game and often visits the governor’s box.
Part of this is Rose reading the room. He is the guy who hired Thibodeau (Rose was his agent at CAA). If he fired Thibodeau after just two years — one of them a return to the playoffs as a four seed — Rose would have to own it, to get out in front of it, and meet with the media (gasp!).
Few executives are afforded the opportunity to fire more than one head coach before ownership eventually shifts their attention onto the team’s front-office leader himself. And if Rose were to ever relieve Thibodeau of his responsibilities, that would almost certainly require New York’s tight-lipped president to address the personnel change publicly—which has occurred only twice since Rose was hired two years ago.
Thibodeau will get another shot, and with what is likely a very different roster after off-season shakeups. That said, there is real pressure on Thibodeau, whose relentless style can have players tuning him out after a while. Thibodeau has to light a fire under Julius Randle and get him back closer to his All-NBA self, not the player that regressed this season. He needs to continue to develop RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, get more out of Evan Fournier by putting him in better spots, and get this roster back to a top-10 defense.
Another disappointing season at Madison Square Garden and heads will roll. But for now, Thibs is safe.