Derek Fisher’s dream of leading the new Knicks regime and elevating the once-proud franchise to lost glory has ended abruptly, and few will miss him. Fisher’s not a bad dude by any means, and he was a sharp customer and intelligent facilitator in his stint as an NBA championship point guard.
However, that winning attitude didn’t translate in New York. Opinions and jobs change hands quickly in the Rotten Apple and the same guy who touted him as our next leader, despite Fisher having no previous head coaching experience, was the same guy who had to give his former beloved player the ax.
Fisher was hired by team president Phil Jackson to alter the fortunes of a downtrodden New York franchise. The two have a long, fruitful history together dating back to when Jackson coached D Fish on Laker squads that won five NBA championships.
Fisher’s firing comes in the midst of a five-game losing streak that left the team 1-9 in its last 10 games.
Granted, the Knicks have improved this season thanks to the rapid development of rookie Kristaps Porzingis, but at 23-31 and in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, any progress that was made at the beginning of this season has been lost. The squad stopped responding to Fisher’s methods some time ago.
After going 17-65 last season (a season that we knew was a throw-away), New York fans and team executives expected a better showing in the East. Many were convinced, before the season began, that the 2016 version of the Knicks were legit playoff contenders.
Fisher, who was originally hired on Jun. 10, 2014, finishes his coaching career with an overall record of 40-96 with the franchise for an abysmal winning percentage of .294
Maybe he gets another shot somewhere. Maybe he doesn’t. That’s no longer the Knicks’ concern.
The team must learn how to close games. Some coaches have the ability to take a mediocre team and make it very good. Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy has that kind of ability.
Fisher took over for Mike Woodson, who went 109-79 in parts of three seasons and at least won a division title and a playoff series. It’s really back to the drawing board as another ex-Laker, Kurt Rambis, becomes the 27th head coach in Knicks franchise history.
Originally hired as the team’s associate head coach in 2014, the 18-year NBA coaching vet starts his second-stint as a head coach, after leading a miserable Minnesota Timberwolves squad for two seasons from 2009-11, where he finished with sa record of 56-145.
This Knicks job isn’t much of an upgrade, but they have shown signs of what they could be with a solid, experienced leader stalking the sidelines.
Former Chicago Bulls defensive wizard Tom Thibodeau's name has been tossed around the rumor mill. His defensive-style would certainly be welcomed by Garden fans, but the Knicks also need to get a smooth and productive guard rotation going, and Fisher's failure to develop point guard Jerian Grant was the last straw.
Can Rambis hold the fort down and get this team going in a positive direction? Who knows? New York isn't totally out of the playoff picture yet, but a dramatic turnaround is needed.
Porzingis is a hit. Derek Fisher was a miss. Phil Jackson has a pivotal-moves record of 1-1 in his two-year tenure. Now he has another monumental position to fill this offseason, while still trying to convince elite free agents to come to the Knicks dysfunctional family. That’s if he doesn't name a new coach before the season ends.
At least a coaching search gives NY fans something to talk about as they play out the season. It's getting to the point where they just need to shut Melo down and let him rest his old ass.
I see another tank job for draft's sake in 3, 2, 1....
The best thing you can say about Fisher's firing is that Phil was wise enough to do it now rather than waiting for the entire house to collapse. Knicks execs also needed to do something to please the NY fans and media, who were starting to revert back to the hater mode of yesteryear.
The "trade Melo" rumors had resurfaced. He missed games because of recurring aching knees and the team has lost heartbreaker after heartbreaker.
Fisher is just the latest optimistic soul who entered MSG and left bewildered, incapable of shaking the wrath of a losing culture that has plagued James Dolan's franchise like a curse from the basketball gods.