The Knicks continue to look futile on the court as they struggle to get back to .500. With a day left in the first month of the new calendar year and a game left, the Knicks are 23-27 and have won four of their last ten games. Knicks fans with no hesitation have pinned blame on Julius Randle, who looks like a shell of last year’s Randle, while others have blamed RJ Barrett for his inconsistent play.
But maybe the blame shouldn’t go to the men on the court.
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau earned his second NBA Coach of the Year award last year after he turned the Knicks around in one season and turned them into a playoff team, shocking the league. However, this year, much like Randle, it seems like Thibodeau bamboozled everyone. When the Knicks are struggling, Thibodeau’s stubborn coaching philosophies become more apparent.
Bulls and Timberwolves fans warned Knicks fans about Thibodeau. His rotation has been a huge issue to Knicks fans over the last two months. He has always refused to switch up his rotations, no matter how badly his team is struggling. On numerous nights, Obi Toppin has looked to be the better and more efficient power forward on offense. Yet, Toppin can’t get 20 minutes on the court on these nights. He will be limited to less than 15 minutes because of Thibodeau’s hardheaded ways.
Plus, the offense is laughable. There is no creativity with Thibodeau’s offense. If the three-pointer isn’t falling, nothing will fall for the Knicks. They’ll continue to shoot three pointers and will gladly go 8-28 in a 17-point loss. The second option on offense is the fan-favorite (sarcasm) iso-Randle, which leads to either a turnover or an awful, unbalanced, contested mid-range jumper that misfires.
Finally, last season, Randle had mentioned he likes the fact that Thibodeau holds him accountable. However, on numerous occasions this season, we’ve seen Randle jog back on defense and leave his teammates out to dry as they try to defend five-on-four and Thibodeau does not become immediately incensed. But, when Toppin makes a slight mistake, Thibodeau yanks him by the next dead ball. Plus, if he holds Randle accountable, why isn’t Thibodeau infuriated when Randle is away from the huddle while he draws up a play during a timeout?
But Tom Thibodeau didn’t build this team, as far we know. Leon Rose built this team.
Leon Rose has found gems in Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes late in the first round. But his first free agent signings with the Knicks have turned out to be awful. He signed Randle to a four-year, $117M contract that kicks in next year. He was the one who offered a four-year, $73M contract to Evan Fournier, who has been absolutely pitiful this season (and previous seasons too). Leon Rose was the one who took a flier on Kemba Walker and his debilitating knees, which hasn’t panned out. Rose was the man who traded away a first-round pick for Cam Reddish, who can’t crack the rotation (this is a knock on both Rose and Thibodeau).
Plus, Leon Rose’s silence is infuriating. Rose has spoken once to the media once since becoming the president of the Knicks. It looks like James Dolan has brainwashed Rose into his ways of hating the media for no reason and not using the media for its true primary purpose: to let fans know what the hell is going on. Their lack of willingness to speak to the media and answer the questions from the fans speaks volumes to what they think of the fans. Knicks fans have had to pay a lot of money to watch a game in which their favorite team looks like a laughingstock year in and year out for the past 20 years. For them to do so without having the people in charge answer their questions is a spit in the face. Speak to the media and let the fans know what their idea is for the team. It’s really not a daunting task. Take 15 minutes out of your day and speak to your fans via the media.
So, who is to blame? Is it the guys on the court who are actually playing the game? Is it the head coach who pulls the strings while they guys play? Is it the president for building this team? Is it the owner’s fault for being an enabler?