Now, two years away from his second NBA Coach of the Year award, New York Knicks headman Tom Thibodeau finds himself heading into what may be the most risky season of his career, 2022-23.
Following their Cinderella history in 2020-21, in which they shocked the sports world by clinching 20 more wins than the season before, they finished fourth in Eastern Conference scoring with a record of 41-31 and snagging an eight-year playoff drought, the Knicks plummeted back to mediocrity in 2021-22.
With a lackluster 37-45 record, New York finished 11th in its conference standings, missing out on the postseason and play-in tournament entirely and, while there are many reasons why the ball club performed so poorly, just or no, much of the blame was laid on Thibodeau.
Now, with training camps due to open in less than a week and the team’s October 19 season opener to follow soon, fans are hoping for a similar season turnout to his freshman year rather than his second year or it could be year three its very good to end up being his last in the big apple.
An anonymous Eastern Conference general manager recently sat down with Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney and spoke about how important a winning record, a top seed and establishing a strong culture will be for Tom Thibodeau in 2022-23 as they implied that anything less then it could lead to his dismissal.
“There were a lot of questions about whether he was going to make it last year after they fell apart and how undisciplined that team seemed at times,” the manager told Deveney. “He was very slow to change rotations, things like that, and it rubbed people in the wrong direction. But Thibs is always consistent in his approach. It will be the same this year.
“His problem is, look east and they’re tenth best. That’s the best scenario if everyone in the east is healthy. You are 10. SO he could do the best job possible, finish 10th and still get fired. I’d say he gets fired if they finish tenth. It’s a tough spot.”
Every single stint Tom Thibodeau has had as head coach in the NBA ended with a rude end, and based on that executive’s analysis of the team, he may be headed for a similar “parting of ways” with the Knicks.
Even if they lost in the Donovan Mitchell Sweepstakes this summer, the Knicks could still be open to the idea of making a blockbuster trade sometime this season, and according to an anonymous NBA exec, the ball club could be interested in taking the Chicago Bulls track star, DeMar DeRozan.
Sitting down with Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney, the general manager mentioned the wing as someone who could make the trade bloc this year should Chicago struggle, and if that happens New York could be one of the teams that could inquire about his services.
“If this season starts the way last season ended, there’s a chance the Bulls will examine all options,” the manager said. “And you would get some good offers. Teams like the Knicks or Dallas or Portland, certainly Miami, they would give up plays and picks for a player like DeRozan. He was an MVP candidate for most of last year. But for that it would have to be a one-season disaster.”
DeRozan played 76 games in his freshman season with the Bulls and had one of the best campaigns of his career in 2021-22, with outstanding averages of 27.9 points (career-high), 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists at 50.4% Shoot from the ground and 35.2% shoot from a distance.
Its production earned the 33-year-old his fifth All-Star nomination and his third All-NBA selection.