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Around the NBA: Knicks to hire Thibs, Zion set to be cleared before bubble opener

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Knicks to hire Tom Thibodeau as head coach

The New York Knicks fired David Fizdale on December 6th, 2019. For the remainder of the season (until COVID-19 canceled the NBA), Mike Miller served as the team’s interim head coach. Now, the Knicks have finally landed on a new head coach to replace Fizdale and relieve Miller of his temporary post:

Thibodeau was rumored to be a top candidate for the Knicks back in February, so this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Known to be very demanding of his players, Thibodeau has taken criticism for his coaching style in recent years. Jimmy Butler, for example, averaged 38.7 minutes per game for an entire season not once but twice while playing for Thibs’ Bulls. However, his intensity resonates with some players, including Butler. Whether or not he’ll gel with a young and directionless Knicks team, only time will tell. But the hire gives the franchise a coach with NBA credibility and history of improving teams.

Zion Williamson expect to rejoin Pelicans ahead of opener

Zion Williamson left the NBA Orlando bubble back on July 16th due to an “urgent family medical matter” and it had been unclear when the rookie sensation would return. (Basketball becomes a lot less important when your family is going through rough times.)

According to Shams Charania however, Zion is set to be cleared to rejoin the Pelicans before the team’s bubble opener on Thursday.

Domantas Sabonis leaves bubble with significant foot injury

Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis has left the NBA Orlando bubble to deal with a case of plantar fasciitis.

This is rough news for Sabonis, who had a breakout season in 2019-20 on his way to his first career All-Star Game appearance. He was a key part of Indiana’s success during the regular season. If Sabonis is unable to return to play in the bubble, the Pacers will have a tough time replacing his production.

NBA progressing with plan for eight teams that didn’t make the bubble

According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, the NBA is preparing a plan for the eight non-bubble teams to return to action:

The NBA has progressed on a plan for the eight teams not in the season restart to practice and possibly hold group workouts next month, three sources with direct knowledge of the league’s discussions told the Observer.

This would allow the Charlotte Hornets and seven other teams not at Disney’s campus dramatically more activity than currently allowed. The proposal under discussion — which has not yet been approved by the league or the players union — would include:

A week of practice at individual teams’ home facilities, starting the second week of August.

Possibly two weeks of group workouts hosted by two teams not in the restart. Those cities have not yet been finalized. Teams traveling would likely be contingent on the players union approving teams scrimmaging each other.

All three sources described talks as moving along, to the extent an announcement could come next week.