After weeks of evaluating several candidates, the New York Knicks have finally found their new head coach in Tom Thibodeau. The 62-year-old mentor is expected to officially handle the Knicks’ team that has been rotting at the bottom of the league for seven consecutive years. Turning things around in New York won’t be an easy task even for an experienced coach like Thibodeau.
The Knicks currently don’t have a legitimate superstar on their roster and mostly consist of talented prospects and veterans. However, one of his former players, Miami Heat small forward Jimmy Butler, is very confident that Thibodeau’s stint with the Knicks will be successful.
“He’s going to do great. He’s going to turn those young guys into some real players; some superstars, some All-Stars,” Butler said of Thibodeau, as quoted by Nick Friedell of ESPN, via Twitter. “I know he’s been itching for this. I know he’s been preparing for it. When you talk about Thibs and the big stage, I think they go hand in hand.”
It’s not a surprise that Butler is very optimistic about Thibodeau’s future in New York. Their final year together in one team may have been filled with controversies, but there’s no doubt that Thibodeau was one of the major reasons behind the success in Butler’s NBA career. Thibodeau was Butler’s mentor when he played for the Chicago Bulls and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
During their stint in Chicago, Thibodeau turned him from a player that was just averaging two points per game as a rookie into one of the best two-way players in the league. If he succeeded to turn Butler into an All-Star caliber player, it wouldn’t be impossible for him to the same with the Knicks’ young core of Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox II, RJ Barrett, Frank Ntilikina, and Dennis Smith Jr.
Hiring an experienced head coach like Thibodeau is just the start for the Knicks. When the 2019-20 NBA season is officially over, team president of basketball operations Leon Rose and his staff are set to be aggressive in upgrading their roster. They aren’t only expected to add young and talented prospects, but they are also planning to go after established veterans that could complement Barrett, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
In the past months, they have already been linked to several big names who are expected to be available on the trade and free agency market this fall. These include Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, Carmelo Anthony of the Portland Trail Blazers, and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.