The New York Knicks are 6-7, with a bottom 10 defense and a below-average offense, and on Sunday they gave up 145 points to the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder, the most points surrendered in the Tom Thibodeau era in New York. Three starters — RJ Barrett, Jalen Brunson, and Isaiah Hartenstein — all were benched in the fourth?
The Knicks are not terrible, but as Fred Katz put well at The Athletic, “something feels off with this group.”
Once again there are reports Tom Thibodeau’s seat is getting warm in New York, a story we have heard before, but you just need to look across the Brooklyn Bridge to see what kind of things happen when teams don’t live up to expectations. While external expectations of the Knicks may have been right about where they are now (the nine seed), internal expectations were higher.
The Knicks are about to head out on a brutal road trip, and people are wondering if Thibodeau will be the coach when the Knicks get back to Madison Square Garden. Ian Begley of SNY.TV says the Knicks can’t have any “let go of the rope” losses on the road trip.
"If you have another few of those games on this trip where the Knicks just look terrible, I think there's going to be a big change made, whether it's Thibodeau or something else" https://t.co/9VKFOyvi2Y
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) November 14, 2022
Tommy Beer, a long-time Knicks fan and writer with a very good substack on the team (you should subscribe), is a rational voice in what can be a reactive New York media and fan base. He makes a case for the Knicks’ woes falling partly on Thibodeau because of his scheme and in-game management (Beer also rightfully throws some of the blame toward Leon Rose and the front office).
Thibodeau was Rose’s first hire, a guy brought in to change a culture and instill some defense and work ethic. That worked well the first season when Thibodeau was named the NBA Coach of the Year. But Thibs’ intense style tends to wear players and the front office down, and that may be the case again. Rose has been hesitant to pull the trigger on a Thibodeau firing — because it’s his guy, and because it’s the one card Rose can play before owner James Dolan turns his eye to Rose.
New York is about to head out on a five-game road trip out West: Utah, Denver, Golden State, Detroit, Oklahoma City. Some of those games are winnable on paper, but if the Knicks who just gave up 145 to the Thunder roll out for those road games it could get ugly.
Especially for Thibodeau.