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Tom Thibodeau's seat is allegedly getting warm with difficult road trip on the horizon

At the risk of sounding old... Thib’s gotta go

Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Asked by SportsNet New York host Eamon McAnaney, “How warm is the seat under Tom Thibodeau right now?” SNY’s reporter Ian Begley said it’s, “...getting warm.”

On the context of the upcoming West Coast trip the Knicks are kicking off this week—with visits to Utah, Denver, Golden State, Phoenix, and OKC between Tuesday and next Monday—Begley added, “If [the Knicks] get a few more games like this where they just aren’t competing enough on the defensive end and they look like they’ve let go of the rope for too long stretches on the game...expect there to be a significant change, whether it’s Tom Thibodeau or something else.”

Begley is basically telling us that if he were to guess, there is a chance the New York Knicks front office reaches a breaking point in its relationship with Thibs leading up to a decision on his potential firing by next Monday. At the end of the day, an 0-5 week could be staring the Knicks (and most of all coach Thibodeau) in their faces.

It’s one thing to lose a game; it’s another thing to have one of the best offensive games in the history of the franchise (135 points scored, 48 in the first quarter alone for an all-time Knicks record) and still drop the match to a subpar Oklahoma City Thunder team giving up 145 points. It’s the most points surrendered by the Knicks since Dec. 27, 2006—in a triple-overtime game.

If you want to find such a disastrous defensive performance over a four-quarter game, you have to go all the way back to 1979 to find a Knicks game in which so many points were the freaking Kansas City Kings.

Josh Giddey joined Wilt Chamberlain in having dropped back-to-back triple-double games in his first two visits to the Garden. It was a 24-12-10 outing on Sunday’s matinee for the Aussie.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander dumped 37 points and dished out eight dimes for the Thunder. Luguentz Dort added 24 points. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl dropped 17. Aleksej Pokusevski reached double figures with 12. All OKC players (nine of them) with the exception of Jalen Williams and Kenrich Williams hit at least one three-point shot.

Meanwhile, Evan Fournier played 20 minutes, hoisting five field-goal attempts and swishing none of them. You can read about that and more in Lee’s report.

On his brief appearance on SNY, Begley also stated: “The Knicks organization, top on down, expected to have this team competing much better than it did on Sunday (and) much better than it has in recent games.”

Begley doesn’t even think that the Knicks need to go 0-5 in the upcoming western trip in order for the front office to do something, saying that if the team has “another few of those games” or “the Knicks just look terrible” he thinks that there might be a “big change made” whether that concerns Thibs getting fired or “something else.”

Of course, outside of getting rid of Tom Thibodeau, there aren’t many options for the New York Knicks front office to follow barring trying to find a trade to remove malignant pieces from the current roster.

Fournier has been pointed out by many as the first veteran that should be made expendable. The Frenchman, as incredible as it sounds, has actually been getting less playing team of late each passing game, even getting demoted to the bench.

Julius Randle fell short of his outlier 2020-21 Most Improved Player/All-Star/All-NBA season last campaign and things aren’t looking much better in the early days of the 2023 season. Not to mention the vast deal he got signed to and that will have him in the NBA books until the summer of 2026 at the very least, with a player option for the 2026-27 season.

Outside of those two, only Derrick Rose is older than 26 and perhaps is the most valuable veteran on this team as the market sees that trio.

As Lee wrote in his piece after Sunday’s disaster: “ the team solidifies more and more as the definition of “mid” basketball, Knicks fans know the only path forward is a proper rebuild. Meaning Randle must be traded, and head coach Tom Thibodeau, his biggest enabler, must be fired.“

We can only hope.