The New York Knicks have undergone a few changes this season since coming up short in free agency and building a roster that left many fans scratching their heads.
Since starting the season 4-18, the Knicks have fired coach David Fizdale, appointed Mike Miller as the interim, fired their president of basketball operations Steve Mills, and traded their leading scorer, Marcus Morris.
The Knicks are reportedly “actively” in search of the next head of the front office after a Leon Rose hire was reported, yet soon after they make that decision — Masai Ujiri or not — they will have another one to make in their next head coach.
Names like Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy have emerged as potential candidates to take the helm from Miller’s hands — yet the biggest mistake this franchise could make would be to give either man the job.
Van Gundy coached the Knicks before from 1996 to his own resignation 19 games into the 2001-02 season. Yet he was coaching a completely different build, with star players and veterans that could hold their own in the Eastern Conference.
This is a very different situation than the one he had nearly two decades ago, as the Knicks are filled to the brim with young players trying to find their place in the rotation.
If his commentary is any reflection of his coaching style, Van Gundy often looks down upon the way the college game is poorly developing players’ skill sets. A vast majority of first-round talent is either a first- or second-year college player, no longer the three- and four-year college studs the league used to get in the late 90s.
It’s unlikely that Van Gundy will have the patience to develop young players, something the Knicks direly need after failing with so many of their draft selections after Kristaps Porzingis.
Thibodeau falls in a similar avenue. He’s as old school as they get, fully committed to his starters and looking to play them heavy minutes. The Knicks stockpiled so many power forwards that they wound up trading their most successful one this season in Morris.
If Thibs continues what’s proven to be his go-to edict as a coach, it won’t take long until bench cogs become unhappy and organize a mutiny — bringing even more drama to an already drama-filled franchise.
To make matters worse, Thibodeau is a defensive-minded coach, something the Knicks have not been considered to be since the ’90s. To hire him is to commit to not only rebuild, but virtually re-arrange the entire roster around their best defensive player, Mitchell Robinson, despite recently drafting offensive college stars like RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox.
The Knicks can’t afford any more mistakes when it comes to structure, hiring Van Gundy or Thibodeau, despite their reputation, would be yet another critical gaffe for a franchise that needs a leader with patience, ability to connect with young players and an eye for developing talent — which is what the Knicks need after another awful season.