It has truly been a rollercoaster ride for Tom Thibodeau as head coach of the New York Knicks. He was the toast of the town in his first season at the helm in 2020-21 as he led the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and his efforts were rewarded, as he won Coach of the Year for the second time in his career.
Thibodeau had seen his stock around the league fall a bit after a disappointing end to his tenure with the Timberwolves but he had seemingly put himself back among the top coaches in the league after his first season with the Knicks. The joy would be short-lived, however, as the Knicks tumbled to a 37-45 record last season and missed the playoffs.
NBA Executive Believes Tom Thibodeau Will Be Fired By The Knicks If They Finish At 10th In The East
He went from being Coach of the Year to being on the hot seat in a span of a few months which pretty much sums up what it is like to be the coach of the Knicks. While the team persisted with him despite their struggles last season, he is likely to not be that fortunate this upcoming season if they don't improve significantly. Sean Deveney recently sat down with an Eastern Conference GM, who believes Thibodeau will be fired if the Knicks finish at 10th in the conference.
“There was a lot of question as to whether he would make it through last year after the way they fell apart and how undisciplined that team seemed at times,” the executive told Deveney.” He was very slow to change the rotation, things like that, and it rubbed people the wrong way. But Thibs is always consistent in his approach. It’ll be the same this year.
“His problem is, look at the East, and they’re 10th best. That is the best-case scenario if everyone is healthy around the East. They’re 10th. SO he could do the best possible job he can, finish 10th and still get fired. I’d say he will get fired if they finish 10th. It’s a tough spot.”
Despite the addition of Jalen Brunson, it is hard to see the Knicks as one of the top teams in their conference. Jeff Van Gundy went as far as to say that they aren't even a lock for the play-in tournament but that won't matter to the Knicks, who will be expecting a return to the playoffs.
Things might have turned out differently if they would have landed Donovan Mitchell, but instead, the Cavaliers managed to trade for him. That just made it yet another team that is definitively better than the Knicks in the East and it is going to take a special coaching job for Thibodeau to not be fired.