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The reason Gordon Hayward reminds Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau of Jimmy Butler

Knicks, Gordon Hayward, Tom Thibodeau, Jimmy Butler

Prior to their game against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau heaped praise on Gordon Hayward, noting that the forward reminds him of his former player in Jimmy Butler.

Thibodeau admitted that the Knicks had their eyes on Hayward during free agency. Things didn’t pan out, as New York opted to use half of their $40 million cap space on one-year deals to maintain flexibility. Hayward, for his part, inked a four-year $120 million deal with the Hornets.

“He reminded me of Jimmy Butler in that way in terms of his decision-making and ability to make other people better,” the Knicks coach said of Gordon Hayward, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “And that goes a long way, I think, in terms of winning. Again he’s one of those guys: You can put the ball in his hands, he can play off the ball. He’s always going to make the right play, he’s gonna hit the open man. His length, that size is such a big part of his game and his ability to throw over people.”

To recall, Tom Thibodeau coached Butler in the forward’s first few years in the league with the Chicago Bulls then continued in Minnesota. Butler started out primarily as a defender then evolved into a two-way guy.

Now, Butler is regarded as one of the elites in the NBA. And many have praised his supreme work ethic and heart—the two qualities that enabled him to guide the Miami Heat all the way to the NBA Finals last season.

As for Hayward, he showed the Knicks why they should regret passing on him after he scored a game-high 34  points to lead the Hornets to a 109-88 victory over the Knicks on Monday.