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Report: Tom Thibodeau-Knicks contract negotiations stall; Jason Kidd now frontrunner

Knicks coaching candidate Jason Kidd

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 16: Assistant Coach, Jason Kidd of Los Angeles Lakers arrives to the 69th NBA All-Star Game as part of 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 16, 2020 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Tom O’Connor/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks’ coaching search started with Tom Thibodeau as favorite. Heavy favorite. He remained frontrunner after interviewing. He remained frontrunner after Jason Kidd reportedly wowed in an interview.

But now that Thibodeau and the Knicks are talking contract…

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

The Knicks coaching search has turned messy with Jason Kidd emerging as a frontrunner after contract negotiations with Tom Thibodeau stalled, a plugged-in NBA source told the Daily News.
Thibodeau has long been considered top choice but a source said James Dolan has thus far been unwilling to agree to his contract requests. It’s still possible the sides reach an agreement, but it would require a concession.

The last time Dolan objected to contract demands of management’s coaching choice, the Knicks lost Steve Kerr to the Warriors. That worked out terribly for New York, which instead hired Derek Fisher.

At least Dolan didn’t just promise autonomy to new president Leon Rose, like the owner did for Phil Jackson just before undermining Jackson’s selected coach.

Of course, merely not being hypocritical this time doesn’t absolve Dolan. The Knicks are the NBA’s most valuable team. They can gain a competitive advantage by spending more on coaches. If Rose believes Thibodeau is the best coach for the job, Dolan should pay a reasonably high amount to hire Thibodeau.

There are reasons for suspicion about these negotiations. Before getting hired by New York, Rose worked as an agent for CAA, which represents Thibodeau. But if Dolan doesn’t trust Rose in these situations, Dolan never should have hired Rose.

We’ll see where this goes. Everyone is trying to gain leverage. The Knicks want to show they have other options. Thibodeau wants to paint the Knicks as cheap. Kidd wants to get his name prominently in a head-coaching search.

But uncritically assuming Thibodeau will be New York’s next coach? That’s over.