While the fans in arenas have been limited this season the Knicks had an unusual contingent rooting them on in New Orleans Wednesday as Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan made an appearance on the road in a courtside seat.
"That was great," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I's always great to have him around, I think the players, appreciate it. We had Dr. [Lisa] Callahan here as well, so excited to have her. So perhaps they’re our good luck charms. We also had Leon [Rose] and [William Wesley], had a full house."
In a normal season Dolan sits courtside at Madison Square Garden, just a few seats from the players. But because of COVID-19 restrictions he spent the early part of the season in the lower level of the Garden opposite the benches and then moved again when fans were let into the arena. Thibodeau said he has been as involved as he always has been in supporting the team at home.
"All the home games, virtually all the home games unless he has some business that will take him out of town, but he's been very supportive," Thibodeau said. "He's been great for us, been great with me. I know Leon, Wes and Scott Perry are in constant communication. Everything that we have asked for in terms of having a first class organization he's been committed, and you can't ask for anything more from an owner. So, we're excited about that."
The Knicks are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, currently in the mix for the NBA’s play-in tournament for the postseason. The Pelicans were a game out of the final play-in spot in the West. So how do their coaches feel about the newly-created play-in?
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who was an admitted supporter of it, criticized the format this week, backing up the complaint of his star, Luka Doncic, as they accurately depicted it as an extra burden in an already condensed schedule.
"I think there are a lot of benefits to it," Thibodeau said. "And so, I guess it depends on what perspective you're looking at it from. I thought Mark articulated that very well. He talked about initially he voted for it, all the benefits. And we saw that I think everyone felt the same way. And so I think we have to let it play out first and then assess it again. But I think a lot of a lot of teams being involved in important games, I think that that's good for the league. I think you're always concerned about that. And so let's see we’ll how it plays out but the initial thought of it I think is very good."
Lonzo Ball, who has been rumored to be a Knicks’ free agent target this summer after the team listened in at the trade deadline to the possibility that New Orleans would deal him, was held out with a hip injury Wednesday.