Wednesday’s matchup in Denver between the Knicks and Nuggets should have featured the two reigning Coach of the Month Award winners for April in the East and West.
Instead, only Denver’s Mike Malone will come in with the honor as Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was snubbed by the NBA’s voting panel Tuesday.
Scott Brooks, of the surging Wizards, won the award for a 12-5 April. But the Wizards are still 30-35, in 10th place, and on the cusp of not even making the play-in tournament.
Not only did Thibodeau post a better record than Brooks at 11-4, but he has resuscitated a dead Knicks franchise in one of the best NBA team turnarounds in recent memory.
The Knicks have the NBA’s eighth-best record (37-28), but Thibodeau hasn’t won the monthly award yet. Officials from Adam Silver’s league office votes on the award, according to sources. Coach of The Year voting is done mostly by a panel of media members.
Before every game, opposing coaches regularly rave about Thibodeau’s work in getting a roster whose core posted a 21-45 record last season to become the fourth-place team in the East. The toxic culture has led to the Knicks missing the playoffs seven straight seasons.
Thibodeau’s Knicks have shown steady improvement all season and are peaking with their 12-1 spurt – with a physical defense and a turnover-free, sharing-the-ball offense.
Besides Las Vegas putting the Knicks’ over-under for wins at 22½, the annual preseason GM poll all but ignored the Knicks for any honors.
Malone, once with Thibodeau on the Knicks assistant staff in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, led Denver to a 13-3 April record.