Tom Thibodeau recently completed his fourth season as head coach of the New York Knicks. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Thibodeau is set to make a significant addition to his coaching staff as the Knicks are expected to bring in Chicago Bulls assistant coach Maurice Cheeks.

Almost but not quite for the New York Knicks

The Knicks had their most successful regular season in recent memory, securing the second seed in the Eastern Conference with an impressive 50-32 record. They also managed to defeat Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs, winning the series in six games.

Given the injuries they faced to key players like Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and OG Anunoby, the team ultimately lost in seven games to the Indiana Pacers in the second round.

Many believe that if the Knicks had been at full strength, they could have potentially reached the Eastern Conference finals.

Maurice Cheeks departure from the Chicago Bulls

 Chicago Bulls assistant coach Maurice Cheeks during warmups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Cheeks first chose to step back from his primary role on the Bulls' bench under Billy Donovan. After the season ended, he approached Donovan to explore the option of transitioning to a reduced or advisory role within the organization.

Despite his initial plan to remain with the Bulls, Maurice Cheeks ultimately decided to accept the opportunity to coach in New York. Sources close to the situation confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson that Cheeks was swayed by the appeal of coaching in New York, both personally and professionally. Additionally, Cheeks has family ties in the New York area, and the Knicks presented him with a compelling offer.

The 67-year-old Chicago native joined the Bulls in 2020 and has had a coaching career in the NBA since 1993. He has been an integral part of Billy Donovan's coaching staff since their time together with the Thunder starting in 2015. Prior to his role with the Bulls, Cheeks served as head coach for the Portland Trailblazers, 76ers and the Detroit Pistons.

Cheeks also enjoyed a stellar playing career spanning 15 years with the Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, San Antonio Spurs, and New Jersey Nets. Throughout his career, he averaged 11.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.

He was recognized for his defensive prowess and adaptability as a player, contributing significantly to the Philadelphia 76ers' success in the 1980s when they secured a championship alongside Julius Erving and Moses Malone.

Boosting the New York Knicks

It's a new partnership between Cheeks and Thibodeau, yet the Knicks' offer is compelling, considering their strong second-place finish in the Eastern Conference last season under Thibodeau's leadership.

Thibodeau has coached 318 regular-season games in New York, accumulating a record of 175 wins and 143 losses.

Cheeks' defensive acumen aligns with Thibodeau's defensive-minded approach, known for fielding solid defensive teams. Given the presence of defensive stalwarts like Anunoby and Josh Hart on the Knicks' roster, prioritizing defense should seamlessly integrate into the team's strategy.

Assistant coaches often fly under the radar, yet their significance in the NBA cannot be overstated, influencing various aspects from on-court adjustments to player development. In New York, the addition of Cheeks, a highly respected coach and Basketball Hall of Fame player, brings invaluable experience and expertise to the team. Cheeks aims to contribute this expertise to New York as the Knicks strive to cultivate a winning culture following their deep playoff performance.