The New York Knicks don’t figure to be a part of the NBA’s return this season, as they currently stand 12th in the Eastern Conference at 21-45 (.318). However, this hasn’t stopped the team from being active in the league’s headlines during this prolonged ‘stalemate.’
After striking out in last year’s free agency period, the Knicks have now hit the restart button once again, firing President of Basketball Operations Steve Mills. His replacement surprised many, as former agent Leon Rose was hired earlier this year to help change the narrative surrounding Knicks basketball.
Rose’s first challenge is simple — provide stability to the head coaching position. He absolutely must find the right man for the job and bring in someone who has experience working with young talent, as the Knicks boast one of the league’s youngest rosters. There are two names that have been thrown around a lot recently, and I will break down the pros and cons of each candidate Rose and his staff are considering.
Thibodeau brings the experience and attitude that New York has so desperately craved in recent years. He has long been recognized as one of the great defensive minds in basketball, and will help bring a sense of toughness and physicality that sparked many of those great 90’s Knicks teams. He’s someone who will demand accountability throughout the organization — from the top down — and will give Knicks fans a taste of what it’s like to be a competent, well-run franchise.
However, Thibodeau comes with plenty of baggage. His experiences with young players have been far from amicable. His short-sighted perspective has often steered younger guys in the wrong direction, as many have criticized his lineups and rotations. He’s been accused of over-working his starters, and can get under the skin of younger, more fragile players.
This is not someone who has shown the ability to work well with young rosters, and his overall philosophy has been deemed outdated by many of the great basketball minds. This seems like a bad fit given the complexion of this Knicks roster, but only time will tell if he does in fact land the job.
Atkinson has everything you look for in a young coach, as he showed incredible basketball acumen during his time in Brooklyn. He prides himself on his reputation as a players coach, and has demonstrated the uncanny ability to develop young talent. First and foremost, the Knicks need someone who can help groom the likes of RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, and whomever they pick in this year’s draft.
Although we have yet to see their 2020 draft selection, the Knicks have grown less and less optimistic regarding the futures of Knox and Ntilikina, as they have struggled mightily through their first few campaigns. Getting the most out of these young players should be at the top of Rose’s agenda if he wants to build a sustainable playoff contender.
Why Making the Right Choice is More Important Than Ever for the Knicks
Forget free agency for a second, as this franchise has shown time and time again that they can’t recruit big-time stars to the Big Apple so long as ownership remains. Knicks fans simply can’t bank on this trend to change anytime soon — which makes this hiring all the more important.
The Knicks need someone who can squeeze every last drop out of this young core, as they have to start steering this ship in the right direction. They can’t keep clinging to their brand image in hopes of one day striking it big, as this has proven itself to backfire throughout the last decade.
Now is the time for accountability, and making it from scratch — building this team brick by brick, inch by inch, until they finally reach their goals of a perennial championship contender. Long-term sustainability must be at the forefront of Rose’s vision and should be paramount during his first big decision as President. This will be an integral few months for an organization clinging to their presumptuous equity as a franchise — so desperate for success in hopes of finally reaching the pinnacle of basketball for the first time since 1973.