As summer is upon us, NBA Free Agency looms, and a long summer offseason begins, during which all 30 NBA teams will look to improve themselves for next season; the Knicks have begun their quest to continue their success with a coaching addition.

Adrian Wojnarowski reported it first on Thursday night; the New York Knicks are planning to hire Hall of Famer, three-time head coach, and most recently assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls, Maurice Cheeks.  

An Offer M0 Couldn’t Refuse

The long-time coach had been an assistant for the Chicago Bulls under Billy Donovan for the past four seasons. In those four seasons, the Bulls made the playoffs once, lost in the play-in twice, and finished eleventh once. Cheeks had decided to move off his full-time role as an assistant in Chicago and had spoken with Donovan after the season about moving to a smaller possible advisory role for the team.

According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, despite his original plan to stay with the Bulls, “the professional/personal opportunity in New York prevailed, per source.” The Knicks’ new assistant has family in the area, and the Knicks made an offer good enough for him to take. 

Coaching Resume

Maurice Cheeks was a hall of famer player, spending most of his career with the 76ers before ending it with the Spurs, Knicks, Hawks, and finally the Nets. In 1993, he began his coaching career, and in 1994, he became an assistant coach for Philidelphia. He would stay with the organization until 2001, when he was hired as the Trail Blazer’s head coach. In four years in Portland, he led the team to the playoffs twice but never past the first round. He was fired by Portland in 2004 and, in 2005, was named head coach of the 76ers. His four years coaching Philly were disappointing, making the playoffs only once, and Cheeks was fired early in the 2008-2009 season.

Cheeks would then go on to be an assistant coach for the Thunder from 2009 until 2013, and in June of that year, he became the head coach of the Pistons. However, in February 2004, he was fired, and then in July 2015, he returned to his position as an assistant coach for Oklahoma City. In 2020, he was hired to join Billy Donovan’s staff in Chicago, and that is where he has remained as an assistant until now. 

A Strong Start to an Important Offseason

Tom Thibodeau and Maurice Cheeks had worked together once before when they were both assistant coaches in Philadelphia from 1994 to 1996. Cheeks is a renowned coach often praised for his professionalism, and should be a great addition to an already very strong Knicks coaching staff led by Tom Thibodeau. Despite Cheeks’ plans to stay in Chicago, he has family in the New York area, and the Knicks offer a lucrative coaching opportunity for the veteran as they finished 2nd in the East in the 2023-2024 season and look primed to improve and continue their remarkable ascension in the coming years. Not to mention, he’ll have the opportunity to team up with Thibodeau, who is a friend of his. 

While this may not be any of the blockbuster moves the Knicks are hopefully looking forward to this summer, adding an experienced and talented veteran coach, who was loved and praised by his players in Chicago, is a great move to improve the Knicks staff. Now, there are 16 days until NBA Free Agency fully begins, and rumors are sure to continue to swirl in that time, especially about the Knicks, who are set to enter a crucial summer after their incredible season last year, coming one win shy of the Conference Finals despite being extremely shorthanded.

It will undoubtedly be an interesting and exciting offseason, and it was a great move to hire an experienced veteran coach to join Thibodeau’s staff to start it off. 

PHOTO: Getty Images

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