The Hydra-headed battle for the Knicks’ starting point guard job is easily on the Mt. Rushmore of Knicks preseason narratives. People can’t stop talking about it! And rightfully so. We are, after all, a week away from the reg seaz, and we still don’t know who’s going to be the quarterback of the offense. That’s pretty wild!
Reporters have been asking head coach David Fizdale about the competition on a daily basis, and while he hasn’t provided any definitive answers, he has provided some insight into his thought process.
So let’s take a look at some of the things Mr. Gold Star Communication Skills has had to say about this situation over the past couple of days:
“More than anything it’s got to be a guy that’s a threat, that could put pressure on the defense I feel like. The biggest thing is, is he guarding his position? Is he pushing the pace? Is he getting us organized. Those are the most important areas for me. But at the same time I feel like you still have to be a threat out there from that position.”
When asked for clarification on what the actual “biggest thing” is, since he named quite a few, here’s how David Fizdale 100%-for-real responded:
“Like I said, more than anything, he’s got to score. But at the same time, more than ANYTHING anything, he’s got to play defense. And 79% of my evaluation will be based on organizing the offense. I’m Rick James, bitch. Fuck yo couch. Et cetera, et cetera.
I’m still a little confused, but I think I get where he’s going with this. There are a lot of factors at play, and he’s speaking extemporaneously. Give the guy a break, alright? He’s a basketball coach,
not a politician. I’m sure he’s much more exacting with his words when communicating with his players directly.
Now that we know what Fiz is looking for, sorta, the next question becomes when. When will he decide which one of his point guards most embodies these qualities? Interestingly, multiple sources have reported that the next two games will be “huge” for this competition. I wanted some clarity on this thinking, so I called up Fiz to get some answers for you, our loyal reader. What follows is a condensed version of the transcript from that extremely real conversation that I totally had with him:
“The biggest thing to me is how they perform in a meaningless game against the Hawks. But also the Pelicans. Studies show that the best predictor for success is how you compete against Trae Young and Ja Morant in a preseason game. No one denies this.
I told him I’d never heard anyone say this, despite his claims to the contrary. Here’s how he responded:
What would you have me do instead? Understand what my players bring to the table based on what they’ve done in actual games throughout the course of their actual careers? Would you rather I know what skill sets these guys possess and craft lineups accordingly? Ridiculous! Keep what you kill, baby! And by keep what you kill, I mean in these next two preseason games. Exclusively. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the competition up to this point, your dessert did not include all the basket ingredients. You are the weakest link. The tribe has spoken. Pack your knives and go.
I’m not sure I agree with Fiz here, but I’m a journalist through and through, so I asked him if what happens in the regular season should factor into this decision at all. What if your designated starter flops in actual competition? Here was his response:
“Once the season starts, I want to keep that competition high. If a guy isn’t carrying his weight and someone else is, we make a change then. I don’t want these guys to get comfortable at all.”
I get looking at meaningful results. That makes perfect sense to me. But you don’t want them to get comfortable at all? Not even a little bit?
“I want these guys constantly looking over their shoulders,” he continued. “I want to foster an environment of paranoia and hostility. I want my point guards waking up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, wondering if the the last errant pass they threw was their last in the league. I want them to know that at any moment, for any reason, their playing time could be taken from them. I’m the one who Knox, motherfucker! SAY MY NAME!”
But Fiz, isn’t there some value in feeling supported through ups and downs?
“I need my point guards to understand that the universe is indifferent to our pain and suffering. Everything ends in silence. The void is all-encompassing.”
Fair enough, but wouldn’t—
“Look, you’ve got to remember something — the margin between these three is so razor thin, they’re all so identical to each other in every way imaginable, that we’re determined to make this decision as arbitrarily as possible. Haven’t you seen Match Point?
Well it’s kinda like that. If the ball lands on one side of the net, you go to jail for killing Scarlett Johansson. That’s more or less Elfrid Payton winning the job. If it lands on the other side, you get off scot free and probably murder someone else in the future. That’s essentially Dennis winning the job.
Wait. Could you say that again?
What I’m trying to tell you, Lames, is that Fate is a fickle mistress and fortune favors the bold. Sometimes this stuff is much more random than you’d like to admit. Randomness rules our lives. Embrace chaos. We live in a society. JOKER!
Which outcome is Frank getting the job?
The Italian kid?
He’s French, Fiz.
At this point in the phone call Mr. Fizdale’s voice cut out and was replaced with a live recording of Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game,” almost certainly from her concert album Miles of Aisles. I’m not sure if it was one of those situations where a cordless landline phone picks up another signal, but that’s all the time I was able to spend with the Knicks’ head coach.
So what have we learned from this?
It’s simple, really: the Knicks’ point guard is the Knicks’ point guard until he isn’t. And the criteria for determining who gets to keep the job will make everyone extremely uncomfortable all season long.