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Tom Thibodeau says CAA, Kentucky representation on Knicks a coincidence

Then-Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau smiles in the

Then-Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau smiles in the waning moments as his team defeats the Orlando Magic in an NBA game on Jan. 4, 2019, in Minneapolis. Credit: AP/Jim Mone

It can be debated whether the Knicks should have gone after some of the high-priced stars on the free agent and trade markets or held tight to their cap flexibility.

it’s not debatable that the roster construction took on a distinctively familiar look for team president Leon Rose and his staff, with Creative Artists Agency clients and University of Kentucky products dominating the franchise.

But Tom Thibodeau, a CAA client himself, pushed aside that criticism.

"I think more coincidental," he said. "I think obviously the Kentucky piece, they have one of the best programs in the country . . . CAA is one of the biggest agencies out there, and there's a lot of arms to CAA. There's a number of agents who work for the agency and so it just so happened that quite a few of the guys are represented by CAA, but I think that probably holds true for most teams.

''But we thought they fit us the best and we had the opportunity to get those players and we did. But there wasn't anything said like, ‘Well, we got to have Kentucky players’ or 'We have to have CAA players.’ "

Nerlens Noel, one of five Kentucky players on the roster, added, "It’s a coincidence, maybe, but it gets to a point where [Kentucky coach John Calipari] has done his job with us as young guys. He’s kind of filled up the NBA. It won’t be the last time for an NBA organization."

Chip on his shoulder

RJ Barrett did not make either the first or second all-rookie team last season, and he said it stuck with him.

"It bothered me a lot," he said. "Not going to lie. It bothered me a lot. I really don’t understand why I wasn’t on it. But it was motivation, motivation for next season. It was good to have an extra chip on my shoulder and just prove myself even more."

Mentor program

Noel said that while he will compete for the starting position at center, he hopes that the lessons he has learned in his career can be a benefit for Mitchell Robinson.

"I know my attributes and what I bring to the table," Noel said. "It’s a young team. I want to give everything I can. Mitchell is a young player I’ve been watching the last couple of years. His development kind of resembles mine — his playing style above the rim, blocking shots. I just want to mentor him any way possible.

''Whatever position we play throughout the season will play itself out. I want to be a big brother to him and give him a lot of advice throughout the season. We’re both competitors. At the end of the day, we’re on the same team and it will be a great brotherhood."

New York Sports