Begley noted in June that Bryant, whose hiring was first reported by The Athletic, could get an audience with the Knicks.
Bryant is very well-respected in the player development field, which is an obvious area of need for the Knicks and their young roster. But is this also a play for a certain established All-Star down the road?
Donovan Mitchell has quickly become the Jazz's franchise player and Bryant had a big hand in developing his game after he was drafted 13th overall by Utah in 2017. And that relationship shows in Mitchell's post to Instagram about the news of Bryant leaving for New York.
"What's understood doesn't need to be explained! Love always! Now before you go we got some s--t to handle first!," he wrote in the caption.
Just this past year, The Athletic's Tony Jones revealed what Bryant worked on specifically with Mitchell to up his game after a tough playoff loss in 2019. Bryant noticed Mitchell was out of shape after having no gas left to make it through the postseason. They worked on cardio drills throughout the summer, and in Mitchell's first playoff game on Monday -- a loss to the Nuggets in overtime -- he dropped 57 points.
Mitchell will be a restricted free agent come 2021 (though he can sign a maximum extension with Utah this offseason), and the Knicks now have his "close friend/big brother" in place on Thibodeau's staff.
"I love him to death, man," Mitchell said.
"In three years, he’s pushed me past my limits. He doesn’t tell me what I want to hear. He tells me what I need to hear. I just can’t say enough about him and how much he’s helped me.”
"Johnnie is the perfect mix of an old-school coach with the youth to relate to the players," Jazz exec Dennis Lindsey told The Athletic.
That's exactly what the Knicks need in place around Thibodeau, who also brought in Kentucky associate head coach Kenny Payne. He has been developing some of the best players in the NBA today with the Wildcats.
Thibodeau isn't done putting together his Knicks coaching staff, but he is already off to a good start, with Bryant being the latest addition.