Knicks rookie president Leon Rose said he had “no timeline” to break the seven-year playoff drought but feels he’s hired a coach smart in player development that will hasten their journey.
Thibodeau touted their two young bedrock pieces in RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson and admitted two other young prospects, Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, have gone through “growing pains.” Thibodeau said he doesn’t want to rush into any judgements until he works with them — likely in mid-August at OTAs for the “Delete 8”.
On a Zoom call, Rose faced questions for the first time from the media as he introduced Thibodeau as their head coach.
“We have not set a timeline. We are taking it one day at a time. We felt Tom was that coach who can take us with development to becoming a perennial winner. That happens one step at a time,” Rose said. “At the moment we don’t know what the roster will be moving forward. We have decisions we have to make. The important thing is to instill the culture, focus on the development and take it from there.”
The Knicks have several of their own free agents they have to decide on whether to exercise their option, but Knox and Ntilikina are amidst their rookie contracts. A 2017 lottery pick, Ntilikina came on late this season. Knox, their 2018 lottery pick, faded.
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“With Frank and Kevin, they’re both young guys that have talent,” Thibodeau said. “That being said, I’m not making any real observations until I get to be around them. Like most young players, there are growing pains you go through and there’s steps players have to take. Sometimes we measure guys against guys already established and you forget the steps those guys have to take to get to where they are. It’s an important part of it. Understand how you get there is work, sacrifice and commitment. One’s determination and perseverance is critical to their development.”
Rose recently called Barrett and Robinson their two foundational pieces. The Post has reported Thibodeau is most anxious to work with Robinson, an elite shotblocker, to make him an even more polished defender.
“I want to get around the players to work with them and get to know them better,” Thibodeau said. “Based on film, I really think RJ has a very bright future as does Mitchell Robinson. Those are two who stand out. But we have a lot of young talent. I don’t like to make qualifications on people until I get around them.”
Rose has to make decision on whether to exercise team options on Taj Gibson, Reggie Bullock, Elfrid Payton and Bobby Portis. Maurice Harkless is an outright free agent. Gibson has played for Thibodeau before in Minnesota and Chicago and could be a candidate to return. Portis and Payton are expected to be goners.
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