Tom Thibodeau Rumors
Earlier this week, we noted that there are people in the Knick organization who would like to see Dennis Smith Jr. get a legitimate shot to bounce back in 2020-21. Here are a few other details on Smith Jr., who is entering his fourth season in the league and second season with the Knicks: Smith Jr., per SNY sources, arrived in New York weeks before formal individual workouts began to work with Tom Thibodeau and the coaching staff.
But the analytics shed light on this premiere aspect to Butler’s style of play. If you accounted for playing time by adjusting his free throws to a per-36-minute scale, you find that Butler’s free throw rate (5.6 free throw attempts per 36 minutes) ranked second only to Derrick Rose on the Bulls — the guy coming off an MVP season. But even per-36-minute stats underrated this Butler skill. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau played an extremely slow brand of basketball that artificially deflated per-game as well as per-minute measures. Players only had so many possessions to put up numbers. But on a per-possession basis, Butler racked up 8.4 free throws per 100 possessions, which topped all rookies that season. In fact, to this day, Chris Paul and Luka Doncic are the only active guards who have posted higher free throw rates than Butler during their rookie season, per Stathead.com.
Tom Thibodeau lived up to his reputation in the Knicks bubble. Known as a detail-oriented taskmaster, the coach pushed the significance of a focused approach while leaving a strong impression on one of the Knicks most important players.
“He’s a beast as far as the details of the game. He doesn’t miss anything,” Julius Randle told the Daily News. “He makes sure everything we’re doing, we’re doing it the right way. And we’re doing it at game speed. And he’s all about us challenging each other, pushing each other to get better. So he’s a beast with details and how he operates in terms of pushing us and challenging us. And for us, we have a lot of young players. And that’s a great thing to be challenged like that.”
Randle said his camp participation was significant as he gets accustomed to new personnel. “For me, we have a lot of different moving parts, a lot of different faces,” Randle said. “Whether it’s the front office or it’s Thibs and our new coaching staff — we want to try to change this thing, get this thing turned around. In order to do that, we need to spend time with each other, get to know each other, learn what’s important to each individual. The one common thing is that we all want to win and so it was important for me just to spend time with the coaches and the coaching staff as well as my teammates. We haven’t seen each other in a while, we don’t know when the season is going to start next. It was important for me to do.”
If the Knicks hired Jason Kidd, a Towns move would have more traction. Tom Thibodeau and Towns didn’t get along in Minnesota. One source believes it was more Towns’ distaste for Jimmy Butler than it was the head coach. Of course, Thibodeau sided with Butler on all fronts. The Knicks have hired Kenny Payne, the former Kentucky assistant whom Towns adores. Towns’ former agent is Rose. There’s always been rumblings the Piscataway, N.J., product would one day ask out of Minnesota and want to play closer to home. Towns is in just the second year of a five-year, $158 million contract.