Tonight, the Knicks suffered their second consecutive blowout defeat (and eighth straight loss overall), falling 129-92 to the Nuggets. Head coach David Fizdale‘s job appears to be in jeopardy.
In a postgame presser, Fizdale called the loss “sickening,” according to the New York Post’s Stefan Bondy. Soon after the loss, USA Today’s Chris Iseman and Newsday’s Steve Popper both commented on Fizdale’s increasingly shaky vocational security in separate pieces. Fizdale’s record as the Knicks’ head coach is 21-83.
But how much blame should really be allocated to Fizdale for the team’s lackluster 4-18 start to this 2019/20 season? Rookie RJ Barrett and second-year big man Mitchell Robinson have flashed significant promise under his tutelage. Fizdale remains respected across the league thanks to his time as an assistant coach on Erik Spoelstra‘s championship-winning Heat staff.
This summer, the Knicks whiffed on adding future Hall of Famers Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who opted to join New York’s crosstown rivals, the upstart Nets. Instead, the team issued a public apology and signed four replacement-level power forwards to exorbitant-but-short contracts, by the front office twosome of Scott Perry and Steve Mills. Yes, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis can play some center, and yes, Marcus Morris can log some time as a small forward, but ultimately, all three players are best served at the four, as is their fellow free agent addition Julius Randle.
Perry and Mills also traded All-Star center Kristaps Porzingis in a package to the Mavericks for disappointing point guard Dennis Smith Jr., a few middling months of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews, and an underwhelming pair of future first-round picks that ought to be well clear of the lottery.
Owner James Dolan has stirred the pot plenty himself, rotating through a seemingly endless series of coaches (12, and counting) and front office heads (nine) since taking over the team in 1999. There’s no need to get into the bevy of on- and off-court disasters logged by Dolan and his Knicks associates in the intervening 20 years, but let’s just say… it’s not pretty.
Ultimately, the buck stops with Dolan. His conduct as Knicks owner has led to Durant noting that the Knicks have lost their cache in a recent interview with Hot 97’s Ebro Darden. “I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players [to view the Knicks the same way] who, in their lifetime, don’t remember the Knicks being good,” Durant told Darden.
The onus for the league’s first $4 billion team losing its sheen falls squarely at Dolan’s feet, in this writer’s opinion. Coaches and front office management may come and go, but until Dolan sells his team, basketball in the Mecca will remain a mess.
What do you think? Who should bear the brunt of the blame for this lost season — the players, Fizdale, management, or Dolan? Or just all of the above?
Head to the comment section below to weigh in!