Tom Thibodeau’s “slander” continues, and it’s not just about the media.
Former Pacers All-Star forward David West criticized the Knicks’ hiring, saying they should have gone with a younger coach who is better related to the players.
West told The Athletic that he witnessed how poorly Thibodeau mismanaged Timberwolves players during the 2017 preseason. Thibodeau was fired in January 2019.
West’s comments come a day after Thibodeau’s friend Jeff Van Gundy said the media has perpetuated the “great slander” about the Knicks’ new coach.
“My thing with hiring the Knicks is (that) I saw (while) competing against the (Thibodeau) Timberwolves, whoever is honest with you, they saw how that situation had deteriorated,” West said. “And the view of that situation, in my opinion, was like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s over there. It’s like it’s over.
“We went to China with that team (in 2017) and we played two games against them, and it’s like, ‘Me.’ The guys didn’t respond, and I say, ‘Man, this is preseason. We haven’t reached the league yet, and these guys are not responding. ‘”
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West’s reference to 2017 is ironic, given that it was the season that Thibodeau broke the 13-year drought of the franchise playoffs. When he was fired, reports emerged that his connection to young stars like Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins was weak.
“From that perspective, and then looking at what the Knicks are, it’s a young team, they have a lot of young (players) that I feel, (they’re) young and talented boys,” said West, who played 15 years. years in the NBA and retired after that 2017-18 season.
“He just wasn’t a fan of bringing that style to them. I thought there are coaches who have not had this kind of opportunity (who were better prepared for it). “
The Knicks interviewed 11 candidates, including young assistants Jason Kidd, Jamahl Mosley, Ime Udoka, and Will Hardy.
“The Knicks’ job I think is a great job, regardless of the status of the franchise. They’re still the Knicks, “said West. “I just thought they could have gone in a different direction. And he brought in someone young who could probably relate better to the players. You can ask everyone, anyone who has witnessed that disaster in Minnesota will tell you that … that was, it was not in the players. That is all I will say.
On Tuesday, Suns coach Monty Williams, who worked with Thibodeau on the U.S. team’s 2016 Olympic team, questioned that sentiment against 62-year-old Thibodeau.
“I laugh at all these people who say they can’t develop younger players and exhaust their teams,” Williams said on SiriusXM Radio. “Look at the success of their programs, teams, and the results bear witness.”