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Knicks Fire Derek Fisher, Promote Kurt Rambis

Russ Isabella / USA TODAY Sports Images

Russ Isabella / USA TODAY Sports Images

10:05am: Fisher’s dismissal and the promotion of Rambis to interim head coach are official, the team said (Twitter links). The Knicks attributed the announcement to Jackson.

9:54am: The Knicks have fired coach Derek Fisher, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The team hasn’t made any announcement, but Shelburne hears from sources that the move has taken place. New York will name Kurt Rambis interim coach, Shelburne adds, though league sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com that they believe Brian Shaw and Luke Walton, both of whom have ties to team president Phil Jackson, are the team’s top long-term candidates for the position (Twitter link). Former Knicks assistant Tom Thibodeau has always wanted to become the head coach in New York and “would crawl” to Madison Square Garden for the job, a confidant told Ian O’Connor of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link), though it’s unclear if the team will consider him.

Knicks owner James Dolan wasn’t thrilled to hear Fisher say that it wouldn’t be disappointing if the team missed the playoffs in comments the coach made last week on the “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN 98.7 FM, as a source told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News for a piece that came out overnight. Fisher’s job didn’t appear to be in jeopardy because he had the support of Jackson, Isola wrote then, but Dolan, who has the ultimate authority, hasn’t been reluctant to exercise it years past, as the Daily News scribe pointed out.

Knicks “management” has been disappointed with the team’s performance, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, though it’s not clear if it was Jackson, Dolan or someone else who was primarily dismayed. New York has lost nine of its last 10 games, including back-to-back home losses to the Grizzlies and Nuggets this weekend, to drop to 23-31, five games back of the Pistons for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Fisher’s record in a season and a half with the team was 40-96, including last season’s 17-65 disaster. Many executives and assistant coaches from other teams around the league thought Fisher put on the league’s worst coaching performance last year, according to Jake Fischer of SI Now (Twitter link). Last season was Fisher’s first as an NBA coach, having scored the Knicks job immediately after the end of his playing career. The team feels as though Fisher wasn’t effectively making the transition from player to coach, sources told Windhorst.

The Knicks signed Fisher to a five-year, $25MM deal after the team reportedly encountered difficulty in its negotiations with Jackson’s top choice, Steve Kerr, who chose to take the Warriors job instead. Fisher made headlines during his time with New York for an alleged run-in with Matt Barnes, though the relationship Fisher had with soon-to-be free agent Kevin Durant, his former teammate on the Thunder, was always part of his appeal. Durant spoke highly of the Knicks when Oklahoma City was in New York for a game recently.

Did Fisher deserve to be fired? Leave a comment to tell us.

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11 thoughts on “Knicks Fire Derek Fisher, Promote Kurt Rambis

  1. bobhutt99

    Shocker! He was one of the worst head coaches if not the worst I’ve ever seen. Rarely ever showed any emotion on court, failed to inspire his players, and his last two minutes of the game strategy was awful. Not sad to see him go!

    • NYC Fan

      Right. He couldn’t score or play defense…

  2. Gucci7383

    Sounds like a dolan move all the way

  3. Dana Gauruder

    There might have been some stuff going on behind the scenes that lead to this dismissal. Otherwise, it’s kind of a headscratcher at this stage. The Knicks just aren’t good enough as presently constructed to make the playoffs.

    • CAVS0223

      They were sitting at .500 before this losing streak. A mid season trade could’ve been a missing piece to push them into the playoffs. They have a decent team with good depth but it’s been clear since day one that Fischer was not fit for that job.

  4. Knicks have to make the playoffs. This losing streak put pressure on Phil to do something.Phil should be the interim coach.This is his mess.

  5. I feel bad for Fisher. I honestly feel he can be a great coach, but he was unfortunate to be stuck in New York and also unfortunate that he had to coach the triangle on a team that wasn’t really an ideal fit for the triangle.

    • Xyrak

      Completely agree. Why so many pro-sports teams try to fit their roster to a system rather than a system for the roster (and then wonder why it so often doesn’t work) is beyond me.

      • They had started building towards a roster for the triangle, but still need more help. They have the scorer (Melo), a solid second option in Afflalo and a potential big man to fit the system in Porzingas. They just need a PG who can help run the triangle and hit threes (similar to Fisher, ironically) and fill out the bench. I personally am not a fan of the triangle, but the problem isn’t entirely the coaching but moreso the roster is still being built.

        • Steve in Chicago

          I agree with almost all of the above, excepting that the Nix have to make the playoffs. They wouldn’t get past the first round anyway. The triangle requires a lot of practice to get right, and unselfish dedication to finding the open man. Fisher was a sacrificial lamb and he knows it. No coach could have done much with last years team and this years is only a slight improvement. Phil wants Shaw, so my guess is he is up next. Would be very interesting if they hired Thinodeaux as head and gave Shaw the Tex Winter role as offensive coordinator, if they could co-exist. In the end , though, by the time they find the pieces to fit around Melo through the draft he may be done. He’s been hurt a lot lately. This coaching move will be the one that determines Phils fate, as it will not only be key to the triangle adoption but will influence free agents (their only hope for contention) as well.

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