Steve Mills Laying Groundwork For David Fizdale’s Ouster?

Even before Sunday’s impromptu press conference, Knicks president of basketball operations Steve Mills had been laying the groundwork for the eventual ouster of head coach David Fizdale, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Wojnarowski explains, rival coaches and executives view the Knicks roster as one that’s poorly constructed and lacks “legitimate NBA guard play.” However, Mills is selling owner James Dolan on the idea that the 2-8 squad has underachieved at least in part due to poor coaching and should be competitive in the Eastern Conference.

“[General manager] Scott [Perry] and I are not happy with where we are right now,” Mills told reporters on Sunday. “We think the team’s not performing to the level that we anticipated or we expected to perform at.”

While Ian Begley of reported on Sunday night that no coaching change appears imminent in New York, Mills’ position leaves Fizdale vulnerable to a potential dismissal, writes Wojnarowski. The timing and tone of Sunday’s presser was met around the NBA with “surprise and dismay” and was viewed as undermining of the Knicks’ head coach, Woj adds.

“Everyone is moving to their positions now,” a league source told ESPN. “This is how they’ll make (Fizdale) the fall guy.”

Fizdale’s handling of the Knicks’ rotation since he arrived at the start of the 2018/19 season has been questionable, as he has at times shuffled players in and out of the rotation seemingly at random. Still, he hasn’t been dealt the best hand. After New York’s front office signed several veteran free agents in the offseason, Fizdale has been tasked with finding regular minutes for those players while simultaneously developing young prospects like Kevin Knox, RJ Barrett, and Dennis Smith Jr.

The idea that New York’s roster as constructed should be a playoff team in the East seems laughable, but even if Dolan doesn’t fully believe Mills’ spin, he might decide that a new coach could get more out of the roster than Fizdale has.

Fizdale is only in the second season of a four-year contract worth an estimated $22MM, per Wojnarowski. So if the Knicks do make an in-season change, they’ll have to pay two head coaches for the rest of the 2019/20 campaign and for two more years after that.

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22 thoughts on “Steve Mills Laying Groundwork For David Fizdale’s Ouster?

  1. Major Factuh

    At what point are coaches just going to steer clear of the Knicks job? Or are they just banking on getting a 4 year contract, fired after 2, then just collecting checks and calling it good?

    • southbeachbully

      @Major Factuh

      Steer clear for what? Most coaches and GM get fired for the teams prolonged bad performance. Sucking and still getting paid millions after getting fired isn’t exactly an awful thing to shy away from. It’s a win-win situation. He’ll resurface pretty quickly if fired.

  2. DynamiteAdams

    Honestly up until this point I thought Fizdale’s rotations have been based off of showcasing the roster so that the front office can easier make trades. Hence the randomness of playing times and why he could never address it to the media. Now it appears he really has no idea what he’s doing.

    Although I truly believe Fizdale to be a bad coach, given what he’s had to work with I don’t think he should be fired. I challenge anyone to do a better job given the circumstances. A very poorly run organization with no clear direction.

  3. I still believe that the Stooges will go down together, as a trio, and that’s how it should be. Even if Moe and Larry do blame Curly for the record, they’re not going to get a real HC in place mid season and most of this roster of misfit toys is likely not returning next year. Curly isn’t as much to blame as the other two, but he’s no victim. He’s been unable to bring any identity to the team in his time here, and can’t even settle on a rotation for more than a few games.

  4. HubcapDiamondStarHalo

    “We truly put together a team with almost no chance to compete in the NBA and hired a coach to work miracles. That darned guy isn’t working miracles and must be replaced.”
    -Steve Mills

  5. Decius

    Fizdale hasn’t had a legitimate NBA roster to work with in NY. I’d say he can’t be judged based on what they have given him. The front office are the culprits in this situation. I would like to see Fiz given more of a chance. But we know the coach usually takes the fall. I think it’s a shame. GMs can destroy franchises very easily. And then they fire the coach instead of being held accountable themselves.

  6. LordBanana

    Knicks plan:
    -Trade their best player for cap room
    -Don’t sign any stars with the cap room
    -Sign a bunch of power forwards to short term deals
    -Wonder why its not working?

  7. paladin

    Sometimes, management is the outright problem. Sometimes, coaching is the outright problem. Sometimes, both are outright problems. I think this is a classic case of mutual blame. Fiz looks lost out there & The roster looks like a first time Fantasy team. How can the FO blame the coach and exonerate themselves because they signed him?
    Verdict: Both sides….Take a Hike!
    You have to just eat the 11 mill because this can’t keep on like this in NY. Fire the FO, both those clowns

    • SheaGoodbye

      Don’t forget ownership too, which is the point from which all things flow.

      So long as Dolan remains in control of the franchise, the circus will remain at MSG.

  8. nunzio1749

    anyone who says they should be competitive in the playoff hunt is delusional and probably should be the first to go

  9. hill

    This franchise has gone so far beyond incompetence., there’s really not much left to say.

    They are an embarrassment to professional sports.

    Zinger trade — disaster. Smith is terrible. And they are so delusional they actually thought FA woul come to NYK. Then they tripled-down on their mistake and filled the roster with role players.


    Throwing the Coach under the bus is Psychopathic Incompetence 101.

    Maybe they can trade one of those PFs for Dion Waiters

  10. SheaGoodbye

    Generally, I like the job Silver has done as Commissioner, especially compared to his counterparts in the other major sports. With that said, for him to continue to let Dolan run a NYC-based franchise into the ground is inexcusable.

    I know ousting an owner isn’t easy, nor should it be, but this is an exceptional situation: a team that is arguably the worst franchise in all of sports given its location and resources. And I say this as a Mets and Jets fan, franchises which I think are merely mediocre and bad, respectively. The Knicks exist alone on their own tier of awfulness over the last 20 years or so.

    A strong Knicks franchise would be a benefit to the league as a whole. It’s about time something is done about this, perception be damned.

  11. Stoop Down Low

    Fizdale can win if he has a squad but right now he does not. Knicks are small but they don’t have great ball handlers. They’re not a good outside shooting team. The supposed young core is shaky at best. Knox and Ntilikina, high picks, questionable futures, fighting for playing time on a bad team. Barrett is promising but shoots FTs at 50% clip and is not a solid outside shooter, making even him a dicey proposition. The responsible parties are Phil Jackson, Steve Mills and Scott Perry, not Fizdale.

  12. Grant

    I think Mills and Perry are going to fire Fizdale to try and save their jobs but in the end Dolan will clean house a bit in the end

    • x%sure

      No, I predicted them for a low playoff seed. But what is Fizdale doing?– not putting the best team out there or organizing them right. SmithJr was never the answer as a PG and doesn’t shoot well. MorrisSr is not a SF or should have been signed. The players are only good individually, which is what Fizdale does coach, which is not their need.

      Fiz has to go. Dolan is stepping in as I thought. I still think they will be #8.

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