Home News Josh Hart says it’s ‘idiotic’ to blame Tom Thibodeau for Knicks injuries

Josh Hart says it’s ‘idiotic’ to blame Tom Thibodeau for Knicks injuries

Josh Hart says it’s “idiotic” to blame Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau for the rash of injuries that have put a deep playoff run at Madison Square Garden in jeopardy.

“You expect ignorance when people have no idea what goes on in this building,” Hart said after morning shootaround at the team’s Tarrytown training facility on Tuesday. “People love to have a narrative or a label and run with it. None of those guys are here watching us practice. None of those guys are watching what we do.”

The Knicks entered Game 5 of their second-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers without four key players who are out due to injury:

  • Julius Randle, whose season ended via a Jan. 27 dislocated shoulder
  • Mitchell Robinson, who underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left ankle in December, then re-injured the ankle in the playoffs and underwent a second procedure on Monday
  • Bojan Bogdanovic, who suffered a severe ankle injury diving for a loose ball in the first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers
  • OG Anunoby, who strained his hamstring in Game 2 against the Pacers and missed his third straight game of the series on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden

With the injuries piling up in orange and blue, many on social media, including former NBA player turned basketball pundit Chandler Parsons, have blamed Thibodeau, who developed a reputation for grinding players into the ground during his tenure as head coach of the Derrick Rose-led Chicago Bulls.

Parsons cited The Athletic’s anonymous players poll, where Thibodeau ranked No. 1 among players as the coach they would least want to play for outside of their own.

“Is it Thibs’ fault? This is why we were concerned initially because when injuries do start to happen, and things linger, and now guys are missing games, and there’s an obvious, glaring huge minutes being played, it’s hard not to look at that,” Parsons said on FanDuel’s flagship NBA show, “Run It Back.” “And this is why that players poll came out with guys don’t want to play for [Thibodeau] because it doesn’t last. You can’t sustain it in such a long season.

“So is he gonna be a fall guy? No. I think they think let’s maybe manage this a little bit better next year. Let’s use our bench a little bit better. Let’s sign some guys that we trust, that Thibs likes in this system, in this role. Not like an Evan Fournier type where Thibs is not gonna play him. So in my opinion, it does fall on [Thibs], but I don’t think in the big picture media, it’s not like he’s gonna lose his job. He’s gonna have a great team going into next year. It’s just they have to stay healthy.

“But look at across the board. Every team has dealt with injuries. [Milwaukee Bucks star] Giannis Antetokounmpo was out, Dame [Damian Lillard] was out. So it doesn’t matter necessarily the minutes, but when you have this many minutes, you can monitor this a bit.”

Hart, who became the first NBA player to ever travel the distance of a marathon (26.2 miles) in an eight-game span through his first eight games of the playoffs, said the workload coming from Thibodeau isn’t as bad as some on the outside make it seem.

“At the end of the day, [this is the] seventh year of my career, [and] I’ve probably had more off days than I’ve had in other [years],” Hart said. “We don’t go contact in practice. Everyone thinks we do three-hour practices of scrimmaging. It’s idiotic to put on him.”

Hart continues to lead the playoffs in total minutes despite only logging 24 minutes in the Knicks’ blowout loss in Indiana in Game 4.

Jalen Brunson ranks No. 3 despite watching the final 15-plus minutes of Game 4 from the bench, Donte DiVinceno ranks 11th and Anunoby ranks 21st despite missing his third straight game due to injury.

Hart, Brunson and Anunoby ranked top-three in minutes played in the playoffs before Anunoby’s hamstring injury in Game 2.

Hart said people are using Thibodeau as a punching bag for likes and attention on social media.

“He’s not going to say anything about it. He’s going to take it on the chin and keep on moving,” he said. “At the end of the day,  people are going to say things for clicks. Pepole are going to say things that make them feel like they stuck it to him.

“But at the end of the day, they are not in this building, they are not in that locker room. Whatever they say doesn’t mean anything. Put any of those guys in this position and see what they do.”


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