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Palace intrigue at Garden: Is Thibodeau to blame for Knicks struggles?

Marc Spears joins Brother From Another to talk about how the Boston Celtics are thriving with their new coach and newfound identity.

Nothing leads to finger-pointing in an organization like a new low for the season — and the Knicks’ ugly come-from-28-ahead loss to the Nets at Madison Square Garden was a new low point in an already disappointing season (they have dropped 13-of-16).

There is no shortage of blame to go around for this Knicks’ season — Julius Randle and Evan Fournier lead the list of players who deserve a share, and what about Leon Rose and the management team that assembled this roster? — but does coach Tom Thibodeau deserve the lion’s share? Powerhouse influencer William Wesley holds a lot of sway in the New York front office, including with owner James Dolan, and he is laying a lot of this season at the feet of Thibodeau, reports Ian Begley at SNY.TV.

And in conversations with Knicks owner James Dolan this month, Wesley has been laying the blame for the season – at least in part - on Thibodeau’s coaching, per SNY sources...

The idea that Wesley is privately citing Thibodeau’s coaching as a significant factor behind New York’s struggles is noteworthy.

Thibodeau isn’t getting fired over the All-Star break. (Well, the inscrutable James Dolan still owns the team, so maybe I should put a qualifier such as “probably” on that statement.) But Bagley says the coach is very frustrated with the roster Rose and Wesley assembled.
Once it was clear that the Knicks weren’t making any trades on Feb. 10, Thibodeau was angry, per SNY sources. He believed that the roster would benefit from an upgrade, those sources say.

Of course the roster would benefit from upgrades, but that doesn’t mean making those upgrades for the short term was worth the price, or was the smart long-term move. This is where Thibodeau the GM got in trouble in Minnesota, thinking like a coach trying to win every game right now and not thinking in the big picture. To quote a computer, sometimes “the winning move is not to play."

What’s of genuine interest here is the rift between coach and management — a management team that hired Thibodeau a couple of years ago as its first move. Thibodeau’s relentlessness can wear on players and management over time — he doesn’t know the word “chill” — but it happening this fast is ahead of schedule.

One way or another, there will be changes to the Knicks this offseason. Maybe some big roster shake-ups (Damian Lillard is still on their radar), maybe a coaching change, maybe both. Leon Rose and company have been patient so far, biding their time for the right bold move, but it’s hard to be patient in New York (with Dolan as the owner).