Knicks Notes: Mills, Ujiri, Smith Jr., Fizdale

Steve Mills’ absence from the media in the wake of David Fizdale’s firing is a sign of his own uncertain future with the organization, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Neither Mills nor general manager Scott Perry addressed reporters Saturday, leaving that task to interim coach Mike Miller. There have been no comments from management explaining why Fizdale was let go, except for a two-sentence press release issued Friday to announce the move.

Choosing Fizdale over 11 other candidates — including reigning Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer — and giving him a four-year contract were Mills’ most recent mistakes since rejoining the team in 2012/13, Berman notes. The Knicks are on their way to their seventh straight losing season in that time.

Berman is the latest to report that the Knicks plan to make a run at Raptors executive Masai Ujiri after the season ends. Owner James Dolan considered trying to lure Ujiri two years ago before promoting Mills to president, Berman states, but decided the price in draft compensation would be too steep. Sources tell Howard Beck of Bleacher Report that Ujiri is “intrigued” at the challenge of fixing the Knicks, but people close to him are warning against it. Ujiri turned down a lucrative extension offer last summer, according to Beck, and has an out clause in his contract that allows him to leave the Raptors under certain circumstances.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Knicks players have been told not to share the reasons for Fizdale’s ouster, Berman adds in the same story. “They gave us the reasoning,’’ Dennis Smith Jr. said. “You’ve got to appreciate them giving a reason, too, because they didn’t have to do that. So they gave us a reason, told us what they expect moving forward. I think everyone has to (keep it) private.’’
  • Fizdale’s fate was sealed when Mills and Perry held a post-game press conference on November 11, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN. That surprise session with the media followed a halftime meeting with Dolan during a blowout loss to the Cavaliers. It was determined at that point that a coaching change was coming, a source tells Andrews, and the only question was when.
  • Fizdale is receiving support from his fellow coaches in the wake of his dismissal. “I’m happy for Fizdale to be out of that terrible mess that he had nothing to do with,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni suggested something is missing in the organization, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “I hate it for Fizdale,” he said. “Good coach. Did a good job. It just didn’t work out and they can’t quite seem to get all the elements together.”
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15 thoughts on “Knicks Notes: Mills, Ujiri, Smith Jr., Fizdale

      • amk3510

        The Knicks have a god awful roster. Its hard to blame Fizdale for their struggles. Dude has gotten 2 opportunities in places that burn through coaches like its nothing. He definitely has got a raw deal.

  1. x%sure

    The blowout loss to the Cavs was pretty amazing; not in a good way. The Knicks were slow-looking but it could have been lethargy. The refs this year are not helpful to a team that should be physical.
    But I doubt their heart is in it, with all the media talk of developing their youth. Dolan might be pushing to favor the vets more instead and win some.

    I think it comes down to Elfrid’s injury… He could have been keeping the team together on-court with more speed. I see no point in N’kina, Mudiaye or SmithJr. I’m no fan of Knox either and Robinson fouls a lot.

    Backups, shortterm FAs and Barrett. At least this Mike Miller has the jump on Dolan; could Dolan really fire two coaches in a year with modest-at-best forecasts?

  2. hiflew

    It’s never good to keep the reasons for firing someone private. Fan speculation will almost always be worse.

  3. IslandFlava

    Just get a proper coach like J-Kidd.
    BTW how dumb was to pass on Budenholzer, Clifford & co to sign a clown like Fiz.

  4. johnnybadd2019

    Fizdale deserved way better… Knicks should clean out the entire organization and get rid of Dolan as well. Dolan is a joke

  5. Buckman

    Thought Experiment: Take the greatest coach from any year and plop them into NY would they have done noticeably better then Fiz? Would Pop have them at 10 wins right now? Phil Jackson? Chuck Daly?

    Unless Dolan starts acting contrary to acceptable societal standards (like Sterling did) then he’s there as long as he wants to be.

    • Flip it. Take the worst coach in NBA history and plop him into NY. Would he do noticeably worse than Fiz? The roster is a joke. But be that as it may, the team can’t do worse than the worst overall record, while not establishing any foundation in which young players might develop or even be susceptible of being evaluated. Hard to imagine a HC doing a worse job, even if his FO did an even worse one.

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