NBA veteran David West slams Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau hire

The Tom Thibodeau “slander” continues — and it’s not just media.

Former Pacers All-Star forward David West slammed the Knicks’ hire, saying they should have gone with a younger coach who relates better to players.

West told The Athletic he witnessed how badly Thibodeau mismanaged the players on the Timberwolves during the 2017 preseason. Thibodeau was fired in January 2019.

West’s remarks come one day after Thibodeau’s buddy, Jeff Van Gundy, said the media has perpetuated “great slander” upon the new Knicks coach.

“My thing with the Knicks hire is (that) I saw (while) competing against the (Thibodeau) Timberwolves, anybody that’s honest with you, they saw the way that that situation had deteriorated,” West said. “And the optics of that situation, in my opinion, were like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s over over there. Like, they’re done.’

“We went to China with that crew (in 2017) and played two games against them, and it’s like, ‘Yo.’ The guys weren’t responding, and I’m like, ‘Man, this is preseason. We ain’t even got to the league yet, and these guys aren’t responding.’”

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West’s reference to 2017 is ironic given that was the season Thibodeau broke the franchise’s 13-year playoff drought. When he was fired, reports surfaced his connection with young stars such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins was weak.

“From that perspective, and then looking at what the Knicks are – that’s a young team, they’ve got a lot of young (players) who I feel, (are) young, talented guys there,” said West, who played 15 years in the NBA and retired after that 2017-18 season.

“I just wasn’t a fan of bringing in that style for them. I thought that there are coaches who haven’t gotten these types of opportunities (who were better suited for it).”

The Knicks interviewed 11 candidates, including young assistants Jason Kidd, Jamahl Mosley, Ime Udoka and Will Hardy.

“The Knicks job I think is a big job regardless the state of the franchise. It’s still the Knicks,” West said. “I just thought they could have gone in a different direction. And brought in somebody young who could probably relate to the players better. You can ask guys, anybody who witnessed that mess in Minnesota will tell you that…that was, it wasn’t on the players. That’s all I’ll say.”

On Tuesday, Suns coach Monty Williams, who worked with Thibodeau on Team USA’s 2016 Olympic Team, disputed that sentiment against the 62-year-old Thibodeau.

“I laugh at all these people that say he can’t develop younger players and he wears his teams out,” Williams said on SiriusXM Radio. “Look at the success of his programs, teams and the results bear witness.”

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