Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Tom Thibodeau likely to extend with Knicks for at least $10 million per year, per report

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New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau is viewed as a “near certainty” to extend his contract this offseason at “market rate,” according to NBA reporter Marc Stein. That would mean at least $10 million per year, which is quickly becoming the NBA’s standard for a proven head coach. 

The NBA’s coaching market has exploded over the past year. Ever since the Detroit Pistons gave Monty Williams a six-year, $78.5 million contract, salaries for all of the NBA’s best coaches have gone up significantly. Erik Spoelstra got a whopping $120 million over eight years to remain with the Miami Heat. Steve Kerr will make even more than that on a per-year basis, though he extended for only two years at $35 million in total. Mike Brown, Gregg Popovich, Jason Kidd and Ty Lue have all re-upped to hefty, long-term extensions over the past year. Now, Thibodeau appears poised to join that club.

Something in the neighborhood of $10 million per year feels like an appropriate figure in this market. It is below the $15 million or so championship coaches can command, but Thibodeau hasn’t won a title. Such a deal would pay him a bit less and put him in Brown’s range. Sacramento’s head coach reportedly sought $10 million annually before re-signing for $8.5 million per year in the end. The two actually have fairly similar coaching resumes. Both are two-time Coach of the Year winners who revived moribund franchises. Of course, with Thibodeau doing so in a big market like New York, he should ultimately wind up earning a bit more.

After all, he has done what Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas and Phil Jackson could not over the past two decades: turn the Knicks into a consistent winner. New York has reached the postseason in three of the past four seasons and won a series in each of the last two playoffs. The Knicks came one game short of reaching the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2000 in a second-round loss to the Indiana Pacers, despite the absences of Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, Bojan Bogdanovic and Mitchell Robinson due to injury.

Ironically, even a $10 million per year contract would not be the most the Knicks have ever paid to a coach. When the Knicks signed Brown in 2006, they gave him a $60 million over five years. They would later settle for less after firing him one year into that deal, but it goes to show just how much the Knicks have proven willing to pay for coaches and executives to do what Thibodeau has already done. Jackson’s contract in 2014 was worth an identical amount. There is no salary cap on coaches or executives, so there is no reason for a high-revenue franchise like New York not to pay top dollar for top talent.

It looks as though they are prepared to do just that for Thibodeau. The most successful Knicks coach of the 21st century will also soon be among the highest-paid coaches in the NBA, and it’s a well-deserved honor. 

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