When the Knicks hit the All-Star break amid a 3-13 free-fall, three-game losing streak and scored 25-34, at least two front-office members recommended leaving Tom Thibodeau, The Post learned.
Front office members believed Thibodeau, as one source put it, “lost the team.” They did not like some of the body language and attention during time-out gatherings.
According to the source, Knicks boss Leon Rose has been on standstill against letting Teboudou out in his second season and the Knicks coach survived the February pause.
After setting a relatively smooth record at 12-11 after the break Thibodeau, the 2021 Coach of the Year, will continue, although it is uncertain if he has full brass backing.
Rose’s senior advisors are Executive Vice President William Wesley, GM Scott Perry, Chief Strategy Officer Brock Aller, Assistant General Manager Frank Zanin and Walter Perrin and Director of Personnel Mokhtar Ndiaye. Wesley was the only CEO who traveled with the team to nearly all of the road games.
But Rose, who was once a CAA agent in Thibodeau, became the only significant voice and affirmed his faith in Thibodeau during an interview with MSG Network on Sunday. A source said Thibodeau garnered fame with Nahas for being ready to play rookie position Jericho Sims on the veterans after the break.
Rose Tebodeau described him as “one of the best coaches in the NBA” who “preps our team better than anyone else. I feel he did a good job under the circumstances.”
The Knicks finished Thibodeau’s at 37-45 and would return to the NBA draft lottery. Thibodeau said he was right to work with exit interviews and seek a review of the disappointing season before moving on to the draft study in two weeks’ time.
It’s safe, but not out of criticism. He was robbed by social media experts because he did not play powerful young striker Obi Tobin earlier in the season; He gave in early on Kemba Walker and kept veteran Alec Burks as an out-of-site point guard.
The common theme was Thibodeau’s stubbornness to go more with the younger players before the season got out of hand.
According to an NBA source, the front office – and some players – haven’t been happy with the way the coach has handled the mysterious Julius Randle this season in not holding him more responsibility for his mistakes.
One of Thibodeau’s least scored moments before the All-Star break came when RJ Barrett sprained his ankle after being left in the game in the final seconds of a collapse in Denver, costing him four games.
Thibodeau has an impressive regular season record as a coach (430-322 in 10 seasons) and led the Knicks to 41-31 clips and ranked No. 4 last season. But he is used to criticism for his strenuous training style, dating back to Chicago and Minnesota.
“This isn’t my first year, okay,” Tibodo said with a laugh when asked about the naysayers.
“Here’s my thing: whether it’s praise or criticism, it’s the same. To me, only you know if you put all your heart into something. And once you do, I honestly don’t care. I’ll put all I have in all One day and I will live with the results. I don’t think anyone is studying this team harder than me. That doesn’t mean I’m always right but I know how hard it is to study.”
The Knicks’ offensive let them down – not defense as some have argued. Statistically, the Knicks have been a solid defensive rebounding team, among the leaders in allowing points in the paint and defensive goal percentage in fifth.
If Thibodeau has been accused of not developing youngsters, it’s not for lack of trying at their Tarrytown headquarters.
Thibodeau organizes a pre-workout with the young group to give them extra study work. With Toppin and his 2020 first-round teammates, Emmanuel Quikley, climbing through the latter section of the season, Thibodeau might, in fairness, deserve some credit.
Quickley said Sunday night that it was not unusual for a Knicks coach to be in his office at 11 p.m.
“We’re just reviewing our plays, it’s important for all of us to be great at our plays and know what to do when we get into a match,” Tobin said. “So when all the guys are on the field together, it’s easy because we do it every day before a workout.”