Feb 7, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks are on the verge of finalizing a five-year contract for the 62-year-old to return to the NBA and fill the team’s head coaching vacancy, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

He takes over for interim coach Mike Miller, who replaced the fired David Fizdale in December.

This comes one day after Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported contract negotiations between Thibodeau and New York had stalled because Knicks owner James Dolan had been unwilling to meet the coaching candidate’s contract requests. 

The New York Post‘s Marc Berman reported Thibodeau still had a “65 percent” chance of landing the job, however.

According to Ian Begley of SNY, the Knicks began informing other other candidates of their decision on Saturday.

Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reported May 27 that Thibodeau was “atop the list of targets” for president Leon Rose in his coaching search.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 18: James Dolan, Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden, answers questions during the press conference to introduce Phil Jackson as President of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 479324037 ORIG FILE ID: 479367607

Thibodeau, 62, was an NBA assistant coach from 1989 to 2010, including a stint with the Knicks from 1996 to 2004. The Chicago Bulls hired him as their head coach in 2010 and proceeded to go 60-22 with NBA MVP Derrick Rose leading the way. The Bulls lost to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Unfortunately, injuries took their toll on the Bulls for the rest of Thibodeau’s tenure, although the Bulls won 45 or more games and made the playoffs in each of his final four Windy City seasons. Of note, Rose suffered a torn ACL in the 2011-12 playoffs and missed the entire 2012-13 campaign.

Sep 26, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) guard Rajon Rondo (9) and guard Dwayne Wade (3) pose for a photo during Bulls media day at The Advocate Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls fired Thibodeau in 2015, but he wasn’t out of work for long as the Minnesota Timberwolves hired him in 2016 to be their head coach and president of basketball operations.

Thibodeau’s Minnesota tenure did not go as well, as the Wolves went 97-107 in two-and-a-half seasons under his watch. Minnesota did make the 2018 playoffs after a 45-37 regular season but fell to the Houston Rockets in the first round.

The Wolves also dealt with some in-house issues during Thibodeau’s tenure, namely some problems between Jimmy Butler and the Wolves’ young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Butler was eventually traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in Nov. 2018, and the Wolves let Thibodeau go after a 19-21 start in 2018-19.

Thibodeau has a reputation for playing his starters large amounts of minutes: Rose averaged 37.4 minutes per game in his MVP season, and the Butler-Wiggins-Towns trio all averaged above 35 minutes during his Wolves tenure. He also is known for coaching great defensive teams, with his Bulls finishing top five in defensive efficiency from 2010 to 2014, per ESPN.com.

Strong defense formed the Knicks’ identity during their last sustained run of success in the 1990s, when they made the NBA Finals twice. In that respect, Thibodeau can help New York back to its roots as the team looks to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.

If his contract with New York is made official, Thibodeau would be the 13th head or interim coach for the Knicks since Jeff Van Gundy resigned in 2001. 

Courtesy: Bleacher Report


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