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Is It Time to Fire Tom Thibodeau?

Exploring the pros and cons of releasing Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau.

Photo By: John Fisher (Getty Images North America)

There's no doubt Knicks fans are one of the most demanding fanbases in the NBA. The bright lights of Madison Square Garden right in midtown Manhattan require some sort of thick skin when it comes to rumors or criticisms. Nobody has heard it more than Tom Thibodeau though. The 2021 Coach of the Year has garnered heat over the past 2 years for not playing the younger players such as Obi Toppin, Cam Reddish, and Quentin Grimes.

Thibodeau has always been known as the guy who over-plays his starters and leans heavily toward veteran players. He was like that in Chicago and Minnesota. He was even like that in his first season in New York, where he led the squad to their first playoff appearance since 2013. Randle led the league in minutes per game back in 2021 and has consistently been top 15 since Thibodeau came under power in 2020.

So with all that. And the resume of Thibodeau. Are Knicks fans right about Thibodeau?

Why He Should Stay:

Well to be fair, he actually has a winning record as the Knicks coach. He's 84-83 through 2+ seasons and led the Knicks to a playoff appearance in 2021. He revitalized the career of Julius Randle, as he is nowhere near the same player as he was under David Fizdale. Last year, Thibs coached the Knicks to the 11th-ranked defense in the league, and the year before the Knicks were 4th. While this team may be more built toward offense, it's obvious that Thibodeau has defensive schemes that work. He's also a decent-enough late game manager. He always seems to get the ball to the right guy when the game is close.

But more importantly, do we trust the Knicks' Front Office to make the right decision on a replacement? I certainly don't. Knowing the Knicks, we'll see Steve Nash on the sidelines in blue and orange. But maybe I'm just paranoid about previous management moves.

Why He Should Go:

The Knicks are swimming in a pool of mediocrity. A change needs to be made somewhere. The first step would be to fire the Head Coach. This doesn't make any effort to play the younger guys, who so obviously deserve minutes. Evan Fournier is still getting like 20 minutes a game, and he consistently shoots 0/6 from the field per game. Randle is still a primary ball-handler when we paid Jalen Brunson over $100M to be the Point Guard. I know for a FACT that this team would be exponentially better if Obi Toppin played closer to 30 minutes a night, and Evan Fournier played closer to 0.

The Knicks have offensive options. Yet they rank 17th in offense this season. It certainly isn't because of Jalen Brunson or R.J. Barrett. It isn't even because of Randle half the time. But it mostly lies on the terrible rotations and the terrible play-calling by Tom Thibodeau. And yesterday, RJ Barrett only played 2 minutes in the 2nd half. I don't care how bad he is playing, that is unacceptable. Especially since Evan Fournier played the entire 4th quarter and went 0/5.

Who Would Replace Him?

Johnnie Bryant is the answer for this team. The players love him. He's a younger, energetic coach for a younger team. He's been a candidate for the Jazz job this offseason and has been the Associate Head Coach under Thibodeau and the last man standing from the 2020 coaching hires. Plus, he specializes in player development. It would be great to see the development of Quickley and Toppin and Barrett under the freedom of Bryant.

If not Bryant, then maybe a guy like David Vanterpool or Jerry Stackhouse. Those two are also player development coaches that have loads of experience in the NBA. Just really anyone who has any sort of experience in player development would be a good fit for this young team.


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