Thibodeau impresses Knicks with methodical approach

 (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)Tom Thibodeau, who started at Salem State and won a championship an assistant with the Celtics, is now trying to resurrect the New York Knicks. 

Tom Thibodeau lived up to his reputation in the Knicks bubble.

Known as a detail-oriented taskmaster, the newly-hired New York coach and former Celtics assistant and Salem State University head man pushed the significance of a focused approach while leaving a strong impression on one of the Knicks most important players.

“He’s a beast as far as the details of the game. He doesn’t miss anything,” said Julius Randle. “He makes sure everything we’re doing it the right way. And we’re doing it at game speed. And he’s all about us challenging each other, pushing each other to get better.

“So he’s a beast with details and how he operates in terms of pushing us and challenging us. And for us, we have a lot of young players. And that’s a great thing to be challenged like that.”

Randle is back home in Dallas after the Knicks bubbled minicamp at the practice facility. It was a voluntary two-week camp, the first organized sessions since Thibodeau was hired in July. Although several veterans opted against participating in the contact portion of the camp, Randle arrived early and scrimmaged. His presence prompted Thibodeau to gush over Randle’s professional approach and leadership.

Randle said his camp participation was significant as he gets accustomed to new personnel.

“For me, we have a lot of different moving parts, a lot of different faces,” Randle said. “Whether it’s the front office or it’s Thibs and our new coaching staff — we want to try to change this thing, get this thing turned around. In order to do that, we need to spend time with each other, get to know each other, learn what’s important to each individual.

“The one common thing is that we all want to win and so it was important for me just to spend time with the coaches and the coaching staff as well as my teammates. We haven’t seen each other in a while, we don’t know when the season is going to start next. It was important for me to do.”

Randle is entering the second season of a three-year, $63 million deal (the third year is a team option), currently making him the Knicks’ highest-paid player. His first campaign in New York was up-and-down, with solid stats — 19.5 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game — that were counterbalanced by inconsistency.

Entering Year 7 of his career, Randle has the tools to become an All-Star but also is looking for his first playoff appearance. He’s optimistic the Knicks won’t suffer through another difficult season.

“Absolutely. I’m confident we can turn it around. We have a great front office, a great coach. The biggest thing is – nothing else matters but winning. And when you do that, everybody’s value rises,” he said. “I’m not going to make any predictions or anything like that. There are steps and processes to all of this. But I feel like just started out in the bubble and working out with the coaches, we’re taking the right steps.”

Randle is still only 25 years old, but that makes him the oldest Knick with a guaranteed contract for next season. He said an offseason focus was improving his leadership.



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