Tom Thibodeau reveals Knicks anti-tank strategy


No tanks.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said on several occasions on Tuesday during Media Day that he didn’t play against the younger ones if they didn’t give the team the best chance of winning.

The Knicks’ newly remixed roster is geared more towards future success than the present, but don’t tell the new head coach.

Ignoring the dire predictions, the Knicks are heading for a high lottery seed after a lame free agency performance, Thibodeau said he is still playing to win.

“Nothing will be given to anyone,” Thibodeau said in an interview with Zoom. “You’re going to have to earn your minutes. These rotation decisions will be based on performance and what gives the team the best chance of winning. A player will not get minutes just to get minutes. You have to have an impact on the victory, you have to put the team first. ”

Two weeks ago, the Knicks drafted former Dayton forward Obi Toppin and Kentucky combo guard Immanuel Quickley in the first round to add to their youthful vibe. Thibodeau has a history of not overloading rookies with minutes.

“There are a lot of things that go into development,” Thibodeau said. “A lot of times people say, well, you have to play them in a game. And you do. But you also have practices, that’s where it starts. You have to shoot this part first. Then you have to have a film study, meetings with your coaches and you also have to be able to use the G-League.

Tom Thibodeau
Tom Thibodeau

“There are many ways to grow, but also to understand the importance of winning and how important it is. Things are going to be won. They will not be given to players.

The biggest abuse of language in tanking is the notion that clubs are trying to lose games on purpose. In fact, the essence of tanking is to give young players more minutes to help them develop even if that doesn’t give a club the best chance of winning that night.

It is a vexing debate for a team in reconstruction. In that case, giving playing time to, say, little veteran forward Alec Burks, and keeping 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox out of the rotation could be a tough pill for Knicks fans to swallow.

The flip slide to getting young – one that Thibodeau embraces – is that free agents won’t come to a losing schedule. Therefore, Thibodeau has always believed that the record of losses won is vital.

“There are obviously different routes you can take,” he says. “And I think if you study it, how teams are built – and I experienced this in Minnesota – the project is critical, free will is essential, player development is essential, and business opportunities are essential. And when you look at Philadelphia and what they went through with a lot of defeats, they were able to [Joel] Embiid and [Ben] Simmons. But when they added veterans, that’s when they took off.

Knicks president Leon Rose, who was unavailable for comment and has not spoken for four months, has not caused a sensation as a free agent.

After hitting her main targets, Rose pivoted and saved the flexibility of the ceiling for the well-stocked 2021 class and to facilitate a future swap for a speedboat. Rose gave one-year offers and declined to match Charlotte’s $ 120 million four-year offer to Gordon Hayward.

“We wanted to be disciplined and we have been,” said Thibodeau. “There will be other opportunities to come. But we are focusing on the players we have here.

These players have Las Vegas scoring the Knicks with an Over / Under of 22.5 wins in a 72-game season – tied to say the least in the league. The Knicks have been excluded from the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons.

“I never really pay attention to that sort of thing,” said Thibodeau. “If you go back over the years, it really doesn’t make sense. What I’m looking at is’ OK. Here is our team. How can we improve ourselves? What gives us the best chance of winning? ‘It doesn’t matter what people on the outside think, whether it’s Vegas or anyone else. This is what we think. If we come in each day and do the right things and play for each other, good things will happen.

Thibodeau said he had a say in offseason moves and that RJ Barrett, Knox, Toppin and Quickley had “good advantages.”

It remains to be seen how much they actually play.


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