Tom Thibodeau's stock around the NBA fell essentially to zero after he was fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves in early 2019. At that point, his trade for Jimmy Butler had backfired spectacularly when the All-Star forced his way out of Minnesota, the development of Andrew Wiggins stalled after Thibodeau gave him a max contract, and many of his strategies appeared archaic in a quickly modernizing league. But after more than a year outside of the NBA, his reputation appears to have rebounded enough for him to land another head coaching job.
Thibodeau New York Knicks job, but as of Monday, we can add two more high-profile teams to the list. Both the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets "will have strong interest" in Thibodeau, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Thibodeau has prior connections to all three franchises that make him a compelling candidate for their jobs.for the
Thibodeau has coached both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant with Team USA in the past, and according to Berman, he has their respect. He was also a Rockets assistant from 2004-07, and prior to that, a Knicks assistant from 1996-2004. He worked under Jeff Van Gundy in both cities, and Van Gundy is reportedly also a candidate for the Knicks position. Thibodeau is represented by CAA, where new Knicks president Leon Rose used to work.
The Knicks and Nets both fired coaches during the season. Mike D'Antoni still holds the Houston position, but his contract expires after the 2019-20 campaign. Last offseason, the Rockets unilaterally fired and replaced most of his staff, leading many to believe that he is a lame-duck in Houston.
Thibodeau would have plenty to answer for before actually getting one of these jobs. Wiggins' stagnation is hardly an encouraging sign of what Thibodeau might do for R.J. Barrett's development in New York. His tendency to force starters to play far more minutes than most teams would be dangerous in Brooklyn, where both Irving and Durant have injury concerns. Thibodeau teams have always prioritized size, but the Rockets have a roster built specifically to play small-ball.
But his defensive track-record makes him a compelling candidate to teams that believe they can mitigate his other weaknesses. Thibodeau's Bulls were a mainstay atop the NBA's defensive rankings. As were the Boston Celtics when he was an assistant under Doc Rivers. He is far from a perfect candidate, but it seems the league hasn't forgotten about his prior success.