Davis Fizdale was relieved of head coaching duties Friday afternoon, and assistant Mike Miller was appointed to replace him. Clearly the Knicks dismissed Fizdale during Friday news dump time in the hope that it would mitigate some of the LOLKnicks takes around the league. As usual, they were sorely mistaken.
I was on the road when the Fizdale announcement was handed down, but I still have some thoughts I’d like to get off my chest.
First of all ... good riddance.
Like all Knicks fans, I’ve seen plenty of terrible coaching. I’m not sure if Fizdale was the worst Knicks coach — his .202 winning percentage is the lowest in franchise history — but he was certainly up there.
His offense was lazy iso-ball bullshit. Fizdale was an assistant under Mike Woodson, and he ran the O as Woody would have done, only without prime Carmelo Anthony to bail him out. The Knicks finished last season dead last in offensive efficiency and despite the addition of pretty good scorers in Marcus Morris and Julius Randle, they are dead last this season. Fiz foolishly decided that Randle was the second coming of LeBron James and gave him carte blanche to run the offense however he saw fit. Fizdale’s defensive schemes made perhaps even less sense — the only things his teams did consistently on that end was pack the paint and allow opponents to bomb away from beyond the arc. When he came to player development, he could never find consistency: youngster would be benched without warning, handed way too many minutes, and played out of position.
In his place is Mike Miller, who led the Westchester Knicks to the playoffs in three of his four seasons as head coach of the G League affiliate. That some pretty impressive consistency, given the near-total roster churn G League teams face on a yearly basis.
Judging by his time in the G League, Miller isn’t exactly an offensive savant — his teams never finished higher than 11th in scoring efficiency. But his teams usually got after it on defense. Check out the W-Knicks’ rankings in defensive efficiency in Miller’s four seasons at the helm:
- 2015-16: 4th (made playoffs)
- 2016-17: 16th (missed playoffs)
- 2017-18: 3rd (made playoffs)
- 2018-19: 2nd (made playoffs)
Remember, he accomplished this with four extremely different rosters. Nobody is expecting Miller to coax a top-five defense out of the current crop of Knicks, but if perhaps he can get more out of tantalizing defensive talents of Frank Ntilikina and Mitchell Robinson. Maybe — just maybe — he can get youngsters like Kevin Knox and and Allonzo Trier to contribute something on that end.
As everyone with an NBA media platform or a Twitter account has reminded us today, the New York Knicks are bad. The front office is bad. The players are bad. But there are a few youngsters on this roster, like Frank and Mitch and RJ Barrett, who carry a whiff of promise. David Fizdale is a nice guy, but he wasn’t getting enough out of the meager talent on the roster, and he wasn’t setting up the kids to succeed down the road. Even the Knicks deserve better. Mike Miller might just be another in a long line of interim coaches for this franchise, but he’s done enough to earn his shot.