Barring a major, rapid turnaround by a group of players who basically just met and aren’t even that talented compared to most of their opponents, it’s beginning to look like David Fizdale’s time as head coach of the Knicks might be coming to an end sooner than expected.
The Knicks are 2-8, coming off a humiliating home defeat at the hands of the 4-5 Cleveland Cavaliers, and the front office has spoken via an extremely strange and unconventional post-loss press conference. Steve Mills and Scott Perry are not happy, neither is James Dolan, and in their search for a scapegoat the trio might have already settled on Fizdale, if you believe ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who somehow knows everything that’s going on with every team in the NBA at all times.
Even before Sunday news conference, Knicks president Steve Mills had started to lay internal groundwork for the eventual ouster of coach David Fizdale. ESPN story with @malika_andrews: https://t.co/FqJY7v6WxW— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 11, 2019
First things first: Fizdale deserves his fair share of blame for the team’s putrid start to the season, and on paper it isn’t completely outlandish to say he should be fired.
Fiz has cycled through six starting lineups in 10 games. As a team, the Knicks are currently dead last in the league in offensive rating and among the bottom 10 in defensive rating. He mismanaged Frank Ntilikina until injuries forced his hand, acted like it was crazy when people asked why he was playing R.J. Barrett so many minutes, and took building block Mitchell Robinson out of the starting lineup in a failed effort to get newcomer Julius Randle going.
Overall, Fizdale is 19-73 as head coach of the Knicks so far, which gives him a winning percentage of .207, meaning that even if his win-loss record was converted into a baseball batting average he’d be worse than Rey Ordóñez. Still, canning him this early in the second year of a four-year contract would not represent a bold move forward for the franchise. Instead, it would show the same lack of patience the Knicks have displayed for two decades.
Kicking the coach to the curb would do nothing but buy time for Mills and Perry, who pieced together this roster of second hand free agents and young homegrowns and expected Fizdale to figure out how to meld them into a winner with haste.
Mills and Perry, by the way, don’t exactly have terrific track records as executives for the Knicks. And according to SNY’s Ian Begley, they aren’t necessarily safe from Dolan’s wrath themselves.
Regardless of what happens with David Fizdale, the feeling among some with MSG is president Steve Mills & GM Scott Perry wouldn’t be immune to consequences that could come if NYK continues to underperform. “Everyone is on notice,” one source said. More: https://t.co/RIKxtrtCCp— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 12, 2019
In fact, unless the Knicks shape up soon, rumor has it Dolan will once again try to go after Masai Ujiri, the president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors who swindled the Knicks in the Andrea Bargnani trade a few years back. We’re not quite there yet, though.
Mills recently surpassed 500 total games as president or general manager of the Knicks, and in those contests the Knicks are 165-337. As for Perry, the franchise has gone 48-126 since the Knicks traded for the right to hire him in 2017. Their winning percentages (.329 and .276, respectively) might be better than Fizdale’s, but not by much.
Since hiring Fizdale before last season, Mills and Perry have provided him with approximately 32 total players to coach. That’s three totally different NBA rosters. But less than a month into his second season at the helm it’s completely and entirely Fizdale’s fault that the right combination of players has yet to materialize?
If the Knicks continue to struggle and Fizdale gets fired in a few weeks, rumor has it that Mark Jackson could be the next head coach, and therefore the latest person anointed savior. All he would be is another big name with the potential to be blamed for future failure.
This is a mess made by Mills and Perry, and Fizdale shouldn’t be sacrificed in their stead. Not yet, at least.