NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Knicks coaching search is reportedly over.
The Knicks look to their future by pulling from their past; Tom Thibodeau will be the Knicks’ new head coach.
Thibodeau has long been rumored to be the front runner for the position, and the news is expected to become official in a few days.
Thibodeau was an assistant with the Knicks during the Patrick Ewing era in the ’90s before becoming a head coach himself. In 2011, he won the NBA Coach of the Year in Chicago and is known to build tough, defensive-minded teams.
ESPN first reported that the Knicks and Thibodeau were completing a five-year contract.
When they do, he will become the 13th different person to coach the Knicks since Jeff Van Gundy resigned early in the 2001-02 season.
The Knicks went 21-45 this season, missing the playoffs for a seventh straight year. Mike Miller finished the season as interim coach after David Fizdale was fired 22 games into the season.
New Knicks President Leon Rose then interviewed a number of candidates before choosing Thibodeau from a field that included Jason Kidd, former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson and Miller, who impressed Rose while going 17-27 before the season was suspended in March.
San Antonio assistants Will Hardy and Ime Udoka were also candidates. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said both will get their opportunities but praised the choice of Thibodeau.
“Tommy’s a seasoned veteran who it goes without saying understands what wins and what loses. He knows how to put a program together, create a culture and be demanding — and at the same time, make people accountable,” Popovich said.
“It’s easy to demand things, but to make people accountable and want to play the right way is not something that’s easy for everybody to do. But Tom knows it inside and out and he’ll be a great choice to organize the situation there, develop a plan, start the culture, stick to it, be persistent and get after it. So it’s a great choice.”
Thibodeau devised the defense that carried the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship as an assistant before becoming Chicago’s coach in 2010.
He guided the Bulls to a 62-20 record as a rookie, the first of five straight postseason berths even as the team battled constant injuries to star guard Derrick Rose and others.
Overall, he is 352-246 as a head coach. He led the Minnesota Timberwolves to the postseason in 2018 but was fired the next year during a rocky season that began with star Jimmy Butler asking to be traded.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)