As is typically the case for anyone who coaches the New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau is routinely criticized and constantly under the microscope.
But one of Thibodeau's top players has no qualms with him.
Thibodeau reportedly is safe as coach of the Knicks following a tumultuous 2021-22 campaign in which New York missed the playoffs despite a solid start to the season. There often were criticisms of how he managed the rotation, and his sometimes abrupt benchings of established vets like Kemba Walker and up-and-comers like Obi Toppin seemed to rankle the fanbase.
But during an appearance on JJ Redick’s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, Knicks youngster RJ Barrett, who was the third overall pick three years ago, sang the praises of Thibodeau.
“That’s my guy, I actually was talking to him yesterday at the facility. He’s really my guy, man. He’s a great coach,” Barrett said. “I feel people have a tough time with him just because he expects excellence, he expects you to be in there and work every day. He’s not really with the people who are like ‘Ah, I need a couple games off or I just don’t feel like practicing today.’ You can’t play for Thibs if that’s your mindset. So a guy like me, I lace 'em up really no matter what’s going on, I’m out there every day. We’ve built that relationship. Thibs, he’s a good coach.”
Barrett is used to tough coaching, having played under Mike Krzyzewski in college at Duke, so that might have helped prepare him for playing for Thibodeau.
Guys like Barrett and Toppin are more the future of the Knicks than someone like Walker. And if Thibodeau wants to keep his job safe, having an ally in Barrett is huge.
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