The Knicks’ hiring of Tom Thibodeau as coach has largely been lauded as a smart move.
But no single coach, player or executive alone will be enough to turn around the struggling franchise, according to Kenny Smith.
“I know [Thibodeau] has been a great coach in his day, but I’ve seen great coaches go there and lose,” Smith said Friday on a Zoom call with fellow TNT analyst Caron Butler. “I’ve seen great management people go there and lose. I’ve seen great players go there and lose. So it’s a collection that has to be addressed. And when you walk in, you see it.
“It’s kind of like a new suit, man. When you see it on the rack, you go, ‘That’s my suit.’ You just know what it looks like. You almost have to try it on. At this point, I have not seen it. So I’ll be interested to see how they look when they come out — either if they go to the secondary bubble, if they have one, or when they come out next year.
“Because at this point, every time I look at it, I go, ‘He’s got two years and he’s not going to be there.’ ”
Thibodeau is the Knicks’ 11th head coach since 2000 (not including interim coaches), and just two of them have seen a third year on the bench. Jeff Van Gundy was coach from 1996-2001 and Mike D’Antoni was in charge from 2008-12. The rest — David Fizdale, Jeff Hornacek, Derek Fisher, Mike Woodson, Isiah Thomas, Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens and Don Chaney — were finished after a maximum of two seasons.
With that recent history in mind, Butler said patience will be needed to give Thibodeau enough time to make his mark.
“When you talk about Thibs and you talk about the Knicks, the biggest thing they need to adjust is their culture of what they’re about and where they’re going to hang their hat,” Butler said. “That takes time to build culture, but you don’t usually get time in New York to do those things because people want to win and they want to win now.”
Thibodeau signed a five-year contract, The Post’s Marc Berman reported, and spoke in his introductory press conference of the need to “go through each step” of turning the team around. Butler predicted it would be a four- or five-year process — time that most previous coaches have not been afforded while the Knicks have gone 643-965 in the past 20 seasons.
“There’s people who are losing and there’s people who are building,” Smith said. “The Knicks have lost. They’ve never built. You can build and still lose games — which attracted Kevin Durant, attracted Kyrie Irving. The Nets were building, even though they were losing, and they had an opportunity to show that. You could talk about the Utah Jazz, you could talk about the Denver Nuggets, you could talk about Milwaukee. They were building and losing, but were able to build. The Knicks do not build while they lose. They just lose [while] they try to win.”