Tom Thibodeau released a statement on Friday about the coaching staff he and the Knicks have assembled. Often, these statements are insignificant, filled with empty platitudes. But Thibodeau included a word in his statement on Friday that is worth pointing out: development.
The Knicks have lagged in player development for much of the past two decades. If they are going to build a successful organization under team president Leon Rose, that probably needs to change.
The Knicks have spent significant money to add Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne and Utah assistant Johnnie Bryant. Both coaches have a strong track record of player development. Thibodeau’s other assistants – Mike Woodson and Andy Greer – also have a history of player development success.
“With these hires, we have added a wealth of basketball experience and knowledge that will be of great service to our players and our organization,” Thibodeau said in his statement. “We are assembling a hard-working, and well-rounded, coaching staff that will embody everything we want to be about: accountability, development, teaching and a winning culture.”
Again, development is, to me, a key here.
The Knicks haven’t signed a draft pick to a second contract since Charlie Ward. So they haven’t done an adequate job developing young players on under-market contracts – one of the cornerstones of successful organizations.
Will that change under Thibodeau and his new staff? We’ll find out over the next few seasons. If it does, it will probably be a big factor in New York’s turnaround. If not, the Knicks may be searching yet again for a coaching staff who can develop young players.
The Knicks also added Dice Yoshimoto as an assistant to the head coach, a position similar to the one he held in Minnesota under Thibodeau.
You can find bio info on Bryant, Woodson, Greer and Yoshimoto here.
At one point in July, the Knicks were considering hiring six assistant coaches for Thibodeau. It’s unclear if they still plan to do so. New York is still expected to add a significant number of development coaches to Thibodeau’s staff. Those coaches are in addition to the assistant coaching staff.
The Knicks will also have to find a new Director of Performance. Mubarak Malik, who had been in that position for seven seasons, announced his resignation earlier this week. It’s logical to think that the Knicks would like to fill the position (which entails strength and conditioning for players) before the club’s voluntary mini-camp begins later this month.