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Know the Coach Prospect: Derek Fisher

Steve Kerr gave Phil Jackson the slip, and now the Knicks need a new dance partner. Herein I will don my prognostication helmet and try to open up discussion on the early names getting bandied about as potential candidates.

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Fisher might look something like this on the sideline.
Fisher might look something like this on the sideline.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

About this mope:

Fishbone has been in the lig for a long old time. Great big long old time! Born August 9, 1974, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 24th pick in 1996. That came after four years of college ball at University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Which is funny, 'cus Fisher is totally a Little Rock. He'll turn 40 late this summer, and he might coach the Knicks, or he might stick as a player. The guy still nails clutch shots on the regular, and by all accounts seems to be a good teammate on winning teams.


When it comes to coaching, you don't need to be a big guy, or a little guy or even an in between guy. You just gotta have some brains. And what better way to judge how much brains a guy has than to compare him to Mike Woodson?

...calculating... ...calculating... ...calculating...



That sums it up pretty succinctly, Woody. A pair of big bald-heads. Fisher is a little more of a scruffer, whereas Woodson is very tightly pruned. All in all looks like more of the same to this blog dork. Fisher will have no life in his eyes within the first third of his contract.

Fisher has more of a super-hero jaw, and kind of looks like he would be a good model for a ram mascot. Woody, of course, is just a potato head.

Who has coached him:

A very basic timeline of the coaches he's played under since college.

  • Jim Platt (college, two seasons)
  • Winfrey "Wimp" Sanderson (college, two seasons)
  • Del Harris 1996-1998 (117-47 in two full seasons, SHAQ, 6-6 in '98)
  • Bill Bertka (1-0)Watch that. If you're a looney like me, you'll ♡ it. Especially just before the 20:00 mark.
  • Kurt Rambis (24-13 in '98-'99)
  • Phil Jackson 1999-2004 (three championships, SHAQ, Kobe)
  • Mike Montgomery
  • Jerry Sloan
  • Phil Jackson 2007-'11 (two more championships)
  • Mike Brown (ominous)
  • Rick Carlisle
  • Scott Brooks

Who has he coached:

No one. However, at just shy of 40 years old, he's played with and against a bevy of amazing ball players. Fisher has also clearly earned a ton of respect from some of the best players and coaches in the game. Its probably safe to say he's taken some guys under his wing fin over the years.

What do the talking heads think:

They think they know.

What do the amateur blog dorks think:

They think no one knows.

Random Red Flag:

The NBPA pushed really hard to get him to step down, before the crazy Billy Hunter scandal got exposed.

Clyde Factor:

"The Fish is being friiied, by the MSG crowd right now. Yeap. The Gordern Faithfurl."

"Come on, man."

Knick Knacks:

Other guys still in the league from the 1996 draft include Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jermaine O'Neal and Marcus Camby (to a degree).

He tweets @derekfisher, which is cool, if boring.

His similarity score is very close to one, Nathan McMillan, as well as Tyrone Corbin.

He has been traded twice in his career, once as a favor to him for being a great guy who was going through a tough time with his daughter. The other time, the Lakers traded him and a first round pick to Houston for always-Knick Jordan Hill. After which, he was promptly waived.


He spent many years as a backup. Played for some wonderful teams. Won a handful of championships. Had some of the most ego-driven teammates the game has ever seen. Played for some outstanding coaches. He can still contribute on the floor. He appears to be, for the most part, a respected member of the NBA community, if maligned for maybe being asleep at the wheel as head of the Player's Association.

Final Thoughts:

Fisher could be good. Its basically impossible to say. What we can glean from the overall tone of things is that Phil Jakcson wants a top-down consistent message. The front office, the coaches and the players all need to be in lockstep. Fisher, just by virtue of being a nearly 20-year vet, must be a task oriented type of guy. He was never a star, always a hard worker, and a big-time shot maker. The reliable guy that doesn't ever hurt you.

The way the Knicks go over the next few seasons should have a lot to do with Carmelo Anthony. If he stays, the coach is going to need to have results in short order. If he goes, the coach can get his feet wet for a season or more, while the roster undergoes change. Fisher has spent nearly half his life in the NBA, without ever being particularly good at any one thing. It's clearly his work ethic and wit that has made him a mainstay over the past two decades of basketball. How long does he want to keep playing? How hard will it be to transition to coaching?