Tom Thibodeau warns ‘more changes coming’ if Knicks’ losing persists

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Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is unwilling to reverse Kemba Walker, but said he would not hesitate to make further changes if the defeats continue.

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Among other factors, Thibodeau said they don’t have “a large enough sample size.”

“If we’re not doing well, look, there may be more changes,” Thibodeau said. “I want to make sure that – I have respect for [Walker], He is part of the team and right now we have rotation. He’s not in rotation, but he’s working in practice, doing everything he should. As I mentioned earlier when I made this decision, I look at Kemba as a starter.


After the horrific 114-99 Gardens defeat by the Nuggets on Saturday, Thibodeau said he looked at two factors with regard to decision-making: “Is the intensity part right? Is the execution part right?”

Thibodeau said that if those items are enough and the club still isn’t winning, “you turn.”

Tom Thibodeau warns there will be more changes if the Knicks don’t start winning.
Charles Weinzelberg/New York Post
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Due to turnover and defensive malaise (ranked 26th in defensive efficiency), Thibodeau is not happy with either category. Therefore, the coach now walks without a walker.

Thibodeau’s tardiness at Saturday’s postgame press conference after falling 30 points behind Denver was due to owner James Dolan, who has been returned to his customary baseline seat by the Knicks bench this season after not being close to players last season. Due to COVID- 19 restrictions.

The eccentric head of the Knicks has a history of meeting with Knicks head coaches after a game, especially bad losses. Maybe the owner of the Knicks asked for information about “The Kemba Decision”.

The two off-season free-agent takeovers of Knicks president Leon Rose haven’t stopped — most notably Walker, who was removed from the rotation after 20 games.

Shooting guard Ivan Fournier is also off to a shaky start and was seen arguing with Julius Randall at half-time in their defeat against the Bulls on Thursday.

The Knicks are 0-3 since the Walker maneuver. During shorthand or garbage time the head coach has refused to put Walker on.

The latest tailspin has dropped the Knicks down from .500 to 11-12 and placed them in 11th place in the Eastern Conference – out of the extended postseason. Given that Rose had the most cap room in the league in August, this regression is alarming. Rose has no cap space for 2022.

“You always have to make decisions,” Thibodeau said. “If one decision isn’t right, you make another. You gather information, study it, and you look at it objectively.”

James Dolan sat in his normal baseline seat for the Knicks’ 113–99 defeat to the Nuggets.
Robert Sabo

He was so quick with Thibodeau Walker hooks that you wonder about his enthusiasm when the Knicks signed the Bronx native to a two-year, $18 million contract in August after facilitating his purchase from Oklahoma City. . Thibodeau likes big point guards and said that prompted Walker to remove him from the scene.

The Post learned that the Knicks’ enhanced analytics department was influential in encouraging the Walker signing. Walker’s traditional numbers with the Celtics last year were just fine (19.3 points, 4.9 assists, 36 percent from the 3-point limit) despite playing only 43 games due to an arthritic left knee.

According to, last season, Walker’s pick-and-roll proficiency, separation efficiency and pull-up shooting numbers were his worst scores of the past five seasons, so it’s surprising that analytics executives didn’t want to sign Walker. pushed for

This season, Walker’s 3-point percentage was excellent, but his efficiency was brutal, as demonstrated by his minus-122. Walker also achieved the league-worst defensive rating among rotation players.

“They thought they needed to splurge [at point guard],'” said an NBA personnel familiar with the Knicks’ thinking. “He can still shoot it. He just needs a limited number of minutes.”

Now Walker can’t find anyone. It’s rare for a player — let alone a four-time All-Star — to go from starter to zero minutes.

Thibodeau actually did the same thing last spring in the playoffs against Atlanta when he snared season-long starter Alfrid Peyton for Game 3. Peyton did not play for three straight games and was blown away by the Knicks in each contest.

“If you’re going to change a rotation, you want to make sure you’re watching it, not a game,” Thibodeau said. “You’re looking at it in totality.”

During the victory in Atlanta on November 27, when Walker rested his knee on the second night of back-to-back, the Knicks made his debut with Alec Burkes at point guard.

In retrospect, the Hawks lost their sniper Bogdan Bogdanovic to an ankle injury early in the game and Atlanta missed a ton of open 3-pointers.

Some scouts argue that Julius Randall’s defense has been worse than Walker’s and that his game was a major reason why the original starting lineup was performing poorly.

The Knicks are 0-3 since Kemba Walker was dropped from the rotation.
Robert Sabo

While RJ Barrett and Fournier have stopped supporting Walker’s removal altogether, Randall remains enthusiastic about the change.

That’s probably why Randall finally pointed a finger at himself after the latest debacle on Saturday when his sluggish defense was on display again.

Randall issued a call-to-arms proclamation that the team “got to look in the mirror” and felt the defense had propelled the Knicks into their 41-31 reconnaissance season of 2020-21.

“I will take responsibility from the team,” Randley said. “I’ll take responsibility for myself.”

The Knicks are coming off a brutal seven-game run, but Tuesday’s game in San Antonio (8-13) begins a three-game road trip against sub-500 clubs. Indiana and Toronto are also waiting.

“We’re in a funk right now,” Randall said. “It’s hard, it’s hard, it’s not fun. But we have the ability and strength to change that. And it’s really up to us if we want to.”


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