In his archetypal twelvemonth moving the Sixers’ seat past season, Doc Rivers became a apical campaigner to triumph NBA Coach of the Year.
Rivers didn’t rather get the vote, but his protégé — Tom Thibodeau, who served arsenic his adjunct for 3 seasons successful Boston, including erstwhile the Celtics won their past title, successful 2008 — did.
Rivers tin instrumentality a small pridefulness successful Thibodeau’s head-coaching occurrence and turning astir the Knicks franchise by breaking a seven-season playoff drought. Rivers really thought Thibodeau and Suns caput manager Monty Williams should’ve shared the award.
“I thought helium was terrific,’’ Rivers said earlier Tuesday’s 112-99 Knicks victory. “I personally deliberation him and Monty were my choices. I wished they should’ve divided due to the fact that I thought it should’ve been divided past year. But Thibs is simply a helluva coach. Worked with maine for 3 years, felt similar nine, But he’s conscionable good. He works his butt off. He’s successful emotion with the crippled of basketball. If each subordinate had that aforesaid passionateness they’d beryllium amended players. Same for coaching.’’
While Thibodeau was unemployed aft his Minnesota ouster successful January 2019, helium often visited Rivers’ Clippers practices successful Los Angeles.
“I kept calling everyone: ‘Please get this feline a job, truthful helium tin halt hanging astir with me, making maine spell to dinner,’ ’’ Rivers said. “I deliberation I gained 20 pounds successful a freakin’ twelvemonth with Thibs.’’
A erstwhile Knick, Rivers played present from 1992-94. The Post has ranked the apical 75 Knicks to observe their 75th anniversary, and Rivers made the cut.
“Am I 3 oregon 4?” helium asked a reporter.
Informed he came successful astatine No. 66, Rivers said, laughing, “Jeez. I deliberation that’s incorrect. That’s bully quality for me, I played what, 2 ¹/₂ years? So that means I had a beauteous bully run. I loved playing here. My kids are aged now, hell. They’re playing successful the league. They still, each erstwhile successful a while, erstwhile we’re going to New York, they’ll sing that opus ‘Go New York Go New York Go.’ It’s similar embedded successful their minds.’’
The Knicks embark connected a two-game roadworthy travel to Chicago (Thursday) and New Orleans (Saturday). The Bulls crippled volition beryllium memorable for Thibodeau, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson arsenic “Joakim Noah Night’’ is celebrated astatine United Center.
Entering grooming camp, the Knicks had wellness concerns astatine center. They were disquieted astir the incorrect guy.
While Mitchell Robinson, recovering from a breached foot, helium made it to the play opener close connected time, Nerlens Noel did not.
The seasoned halfway who re-signed connected a three-year, $31 cardinal deal, was held retired of each 4 preseason games and present has missed the archetypal 4 regular-season contests, resting again versus the Sixers.
“He’s ramped up beauteous bully close now,’’ Thibodeau said earlier the game. “Hopefully it volition beryllium soon. It’s erstwhile he’s acceptable to go. So he’s been taking immoderate contact. He’s existent close.’’
Noel has dealt with hamstring and genu issues and suffered a setback earlier the preseason finale.
“He was astir backmost erstwhile and past helium had immoderate soreness,’’ Thibodeau said. “He had soreness successful his genu [but] the hamstring is fine. And that soreness is overmuch improved.”
Noel is simply a antiaircraft halfway and the Knicks’ defence hadn’t been arsenic bully astatine protecting the rim. Last season, successful his declaration year, Noel had a vocation play successful finishing 4th successful the NBA successful blocks (3.0).
Luckily, Robinson made it backmost sooner than immoderate projected. Held retired until the preseason finale, Robinson has looked bulkier and stronger.