According to all reports, Tom Thibodeau is the most coveted coach on the market. Not just on the coach market, but probably in all NBA free agency (whenever it may happen). The uncertainty of what the NBA salary cap will look like for the foreseeable future means that all players that have them will take their player options. The biggest star on the market may be Draymond Green, and it’s difficult to see a scenario in which he doesn’t stay with the Warriors.
Coaching vacancies are a different bag of chips. Three attractive teams will be considering new head coaches; Knicks, Nets, and Rockets. Both New York teams have interim coaches, and Mike D’Antoni is a lame-duck coach very likely to leave Houston. All three teams reportedly have Tom Thibodeau at the top of their list. But the main question surrounding Thibs is the same one before the Minessota gig – did he change when it comes to player development?
According to Thibs, the answer is yes. He appeared on First Take, and Max Kellerman asked him quite directly about his intensity and the tendency for it to wear players out during the season. Thibodeau pointed out that criticism often came from people who didn’t play for him, and that his former players and win-loss record speak for itself.
Thib’s was never under fire for not winning basketball games. He was under fire for the way he got to those wins, but it seems his awareness of that is at least on a higher level. He said there are new ways of practicing and working outside of games that he believes is more up to date with the evolution the league has gone through in the past few years.
The question that needs to be raised is, how can we trust Thibodeau that this time will be different than Minnesota. He went on a similar tour of teams and press appearances, saying that he accepted the new ways, and then all reports from Minessota were that not a lot has changed. Talkin about it on The Jump, Zach Lowe said that many in the NBA believed he would never get another head coach position in the league.
That doesn’t appear to be true. So where should he go? I don’t think Thibodeau should go to the Knicks. They have a young roster in the making that needs someone with a lighter touch. Thibs has a Spartan approach more suited to veteran teams; legitimate title contenders. So, Nets or Rockets?
Westbrook and Thibs would be a wild combo, and if he could meditate through Harden’s defense, that could work. Develop the defense and let Harden and Westbrook rip on offense. The only question is, would Thibs play small ball? He always had (at least) one big man on the court. His experience with Chicago and Minnesota must’ve made him sensitive to stability in the front office and ownership. Houston wouldn’t fit under that category in both departments.
Brooklyn, on the other hand, has a stable front office, a new owner that seems to let them do their job, and KD and Kyrie ready to contend. Reports say that they both respect Thibs, and if the three had a Skype dinner, an open conversation, and agreed they are a fit, it could be all that’s necessary for the Nets to go with Thibodeau. The only question is, would Thibs speak meta-woke or Kyrie English?
My dream scenario? D’Antoni to Brooklyn, Kenny Atkinson to the Knicks and Thibs in Houston. Tell me that wouldn’t be fun.