David Fizdale

New York Notes: Fizdale, Knicks, Kyrie, Nets

Appearing on ESPN’s The Jump on Monday, former Knicks head coach David Fizdale said the toughest part about being fired a year and a half after joining the franchise was fulfilling the goal of turning things around and giving fans a winner. However, Fizdale still believes that the club is well-positioned to improve going forward.

“I think that they have really good young talent and those young guys are going to keep getting better, Fizdale said of the Knicks, per Steve Popper of Newsday. “They have to continue to draft well because they have a lot of draft picks over the next few years. Then with the veterans that they did sign, they have to figure out which guys they want to retain and which guys they want to move on from. But they do have a lot of cap space there and they will have an opportunity to get back in the free-agency market this summer.

“So I really think they’re in a good position,” the ex-Knicks coach added. “I know a lot of people don’t and a lot of people are down on them. But I actually think that they’re in a good position to make some good things happen for the organization.”

Here’s more out of New York:

  • While a segment of Knicks fans may prefer to see the team’s young players get some of the minutes currently going to veterans, the team “clearly has a showcase mentality” with those vets, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Berman suggests there will be plenty of time for New York to increase the youngsters’ roles after the trade deadline.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic identifies a few players and potential trades that could be of interest to the Knicks at the deadline. Jerome Robinson, Kris Dunn, and Bogdan Bogdanovic are among the players Vorkunov thinks might be logical targets.
  • After Kyrie Irving was a late scratch on Monday due to a tight hamstring, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson explained that the team is just being “cautious” with the star guard, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. However, Atkinson did acknowledge that the issue had been nagging Irving for a few days.
  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News says it’s ridiculous to claim the Nets are better without Irving and argues that some of the criticism Kyrie is facing for recent comments is unfair.

Knicks Rumors: Trades, Portis, Fizdale, Davis

Several teams who have been in touch recently with the Knicks have come away with the impression that the team isn’t simply looking to trade for rebuilding assets such as draft picks, expiring contracts, and young prospects, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Those teams say New York has shown interest in acquiring “starter-level players” who can help the team in the short term as well as in the future, sources tell Begley.

While seeking only short-term upgrades would be a mistake for the 10-27 Knicks, it makes sense for the club to consider a variety of trade options rather than focusing exclusively on dumping its veterans for draft picks. Still, it’s hard to envision many scenarios in which the organization could use its most expendable trade chips to acquire a starter-level player who could be retained for multiple seasons.

Perhaps if the Knicks go that route they’ll target players who are a year or two away from restricted free agency and could be more comfortably re-signed than a player like Marcus Morris, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. Players like Kyle Kuzma and Malik Beasley might fit that bill, though finding a Knicks package that would work financially and would appeal to a contender like the Lakers or Nuggets could be tricky.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Bobby Portis is drawing trade interest from multiple teams, Begley writes in a separate story for SNY.tv. Begley suggests that Portis’ pseudo-expiring contract could appeal to teams seeking a frontcourt piece, though I suspect the big man’s modest production (9.9 PPG on 44.0% shooting) and $15MM cap hit will limit his value.
  • Former Knicks head coach David Fizdale said during a Wednesday appearance on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo that he has “no ill feelings” toward the franchise following his dismissal, as Malika Andrews of ESPN.com relays. “That’s the business we’ve chosen,” Fizdale said. “I respect those guys greatly. I miss the hell out of them. … I obviously learned a ton from it and I was just really grateful to have that opportunity to say I was the head coach of the Knicks.”
  • During his radio appearance, Fizdale stated that the “media market” and “scrutiny” in New York put a lot of pressure on people within the Knicks’ organization and make it a “tough environment.” However, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News takes exception to Fizdale using outside pressure as an excuse for the Knicks’ failures, arguing that media and fans largely gave the club a pass for tanking away the 2018/19 season and weren’t responsible for the team’s questionable roster moves.
  • Anthony Davis had New York on his list of preferred destinations when he asked for a trade out of New Orleans, but he wasn’t interested in talking about the Knicks when the team visited the Lakers this week, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I’m kind of just over the whole situation,” Davis said. Asked what appealed to him about the Knicks, he replied, “That was all in the past. I don’t talk about no other team than the Lakers.”

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Brown, Miller, Prince

Long-tenured Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry is averaging 20.8 PPG, 7.6 APG, and 5.0 RPG during Toronto’s excellent 22-10 start to the season. That win percentage would translate to 56 regular season victories if Toronto sustained its pace, just a two-game depreciation since losing their 2019 Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, to the Clippers in the offseason. Lowry and breakout star forward Pascal Siakam have picked up the slack in Leonard’s absence.

The 33 year-old, a five-time All-Star for the Raptors, credits retired point guard Jameer Nelson with helping him navigate the NBA to reach his current position, as one of the most important leaders for one of the league’s best teams.

“Nobody knows this, but to this day, I thank Jameer for helping me get to where I am,” Lowry told The Athletic’s Michael Lee. “Whenever he text[s] me, I text him, I tell him, ‘You’re the reason I even understand how to work.'” In the summer of 2005, following his rookie season for the Magic, Nelson began mentoring Lowry, then coming off his freshman season for Villanova. Lowry has been with the Raptors since the 2012/13 season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Wing Jaylen Brown, currently enjoying a breakout year for the ascendent Celtics, has a chance to make his first All-Star squad during his fourth season, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg. However, that is hardly Brown’s focus. “I’m not really paying attention to [the All-Star buzz],” Brown claimed after a post-practice workout. “It would be extremely dope to even be mentioned in the conversation. To be honest, I still think I can be a lot better. I think the best is yet to come for me this season.”
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post tracks how new Knicks head coach Mike Miller’s success with the team makes David Fizdale defenders look bad. Berman specifically cites Fizdale’s defensive planning, his unnecessarily rankling players, and not involving all his assistant coaches equally for in-game strategizing. Steve Popper of Newsday concurs that the Knicks’ play has improved under Miller. New York is 5-6 under its new coach; the team was 4-18 under Fizdale this season.
  • Nets forward Taurean Prince is currently shooting a career-worst 37.3% from the field. His shooting struggles have taken their toll on Brooklyn, according to the New York Post’s Mollie Walker. “I think he’s going through a cold spell,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson reflected in post-practice comments on Friday. “I told him today, he’s a 40 percent career 3-point shooter, he’s got to keep shooting.”

David Fizdale Returns To ESPN As Analyst

Former Knicks coach David Fizdale will return to ESPN as a studio analyst, Ian Begley of SNY.tv reports.

Fizdale was fired by the Knicks after the team got off to a 4-18 start. He also appeared on the network two seasons ago in a similar role. ESPN has often been a haven for coaches in between jobs. Stan Van Gundy and Byron Scott are among the ex-coaches currently employed by the network.

Fizdale had a 21-83 record in New York. Fizdale chose the Knicks over other offers, such as positions in Charlotte, Phoenix, and Atlanta. He was also the head coach in Memphis, where he went 43-39 in 2016/17 before getting fired early the next season after a 7-12 beginning.

The Knicks are 3-5 under interim head coach Mike Miller.

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Hayward, Miller, Sixers

The New York Post’s Brian Lewis ponders the role that stellar Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie will have when injured All-Star Kyrie Irving returns. Lewis notes that former Net Paul Pierce has proposed one possible solution on ESPN: Irving could start at shooting guard while Dinwiddie keeps rolling at the point guard slot. Brooklyn boasts a 11-6 record with Dinwiddie at the helm since Irving went down. The team was 4-7 before the injury.

“Kyrie’s still learning exactly what we want to do,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson allowed in recent comments. “Spencer’s got a little more corporate knowledge. It’s going to take time for Kyrie to completely understand what we’re doing on both sides of the ball.”

Meanwhile, Malika Andrews of ESPN notes that Irving has yet to be cleared for contact practices with the Nets, according to Atkinson (Twitter link). Two weeks ago, Atkinson had said that Irving would be ready for contact by this stage.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Coach Brad Stevens noted via the official Celtics Twitter account (link) that the health status of Gordon Hayward for his team’s next game will be “bumped up to probable after today.” Hayward’s various maladies have relegated him to just 11 games played this season.
  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News takes a look at the differences between ex-Knicks head coach David Fizdale and his interim replacement, Mike Miller. The Knicks are 3-4 since Miller slid over on the bench to take charge. They were 4-18 under Fizdale to start the season.
  • The Sixers offense was once again confounded by a zone defense, this time one enacted by the Mavericks, in a 117-98 loss on Friday. The defeat marked the team’s second consecutive home loss, after initially going 15-0 at the Wells Fargo Center to start the season. According to The Athletic’s Rich Hoffman, coach Brett Brown noted that opponents’ successful zone trapping was so demoralizing it has helped cultivate a lackluster Sixers effort on defense, too. “I think that the influence that our inability lately to… be put on our back heels against the zone, has crept into our defense, our psyche, our spirit,” Brown said. “And I can’t stand it.”

Knicks Rumors: Fizdale, Durant, Porzingis, Griffin

Before being hired by the Knicks in the spring of 2018, David Fizdale was a highly sought-after head coaching candidate, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, who suggest that Fizdale had offers from the Hawks and Suns and was the leading candidate for the Hornets‘ opening as well. However, Fizdale was focused on New York and turned down other offers even before he received any assurances from the Knicks.

A year and a half later, Fizdale is back on the market after a miserable start to the 2019/20 season. Leading up to his ouster, Fizdale knew that team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry were meeting with players to get their input on why the Knicks weren’t showing progress, sources tell Shelburne and Wojnarowski. Eventually, Fizdale told Mills and Perry that he understood if they felt he’d become part of the problem.

Mike Miller has taken over as the Knicks’ interim head coach and should keep the job at least through the end of the season, assuming players respond to him, per the ESPN duo. But there have already been talks at the ownership level about potentially hiring a new coach during the season if the club’s struggles continue. That would present a new series of complications, since Mills and Perry are now on the hot seat themselves, and it’s not clear whether they’d get the go-ahead to pick a new coach.

Shelburne and Wojnarowski touch on many more topics in their latest article, exploring many other factors that have contributed to the Knicks’ ongoing struggles in recent years. The piece is absolutely worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights:

  • Kevin Durant did “strongly” consider the Knicks as a free agent destination earlier this year, but when he and Kyrie Irving talked about teaming up, Durant never pushed the Knicks the way Irving pushed the Nets, sources tell ESPN. Shelburne and Wojnarowski also suggest that team owner James Dolan was wary about bringing aboard Durant and his torn Achilles after the Knicks’ experience with Amar’e Stoudemire.
  • The Knicks began gauging Kristaps Porzingis‘ trade value early in 2019, offering him to the Pelicans in an Anthony Davis package, per ESPN. When New Orleans showed little interest in that proposal, the Knicks began to wonder if league-wide interest in Porzingis may not be as high as they believed.
  • When Porzingis and his brother (and agent) Janis found out the Knicks were discussing a possible trade with the Mavericks, they hurried a meeting with the team, providing a wish list of four destinations (Nets, Clippers, Raptors, and Heat), according to Shelburne and Wojnarowski. The Knicks turned around and quickly finalized a deal with Dallas, perhaps not wanting to lose leverage when Porzingis’ request leaked. The series of events left more than a dozen teams around the NBA wondering why they didn’t have a chance to bid on Porzingis, and suggested one of two things to rivals, per Shelburne and Woj: Either the Knicks knew Durant and Irving were coming, or they didn’t know how to properly execute a franchise-altering trade.
  • After parting ways with Phil Jackson in 2017, the Knicks initially zeroed in on David Griffin, who told the organization he was interested only if he could become president of basketball operations and report directly to ownership. Dolan suggested he was “excited” about that idea, sources tell Shelburne and Woj. However, Griffin soon realized – particularly when word broke that the Knicks had signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71MM deal – that he likely wouldn’t have full autonomy and would have to report to Mills. He met with the club but withdrew his name from consideration shortly after that meeting.
  • The Knicks subsequently pivoted to Perry, a candidate “without the gravitas or leverage to demand a direct line to ownership.” Perry’s contract includes fourth- and fifth-year options that must be exercised this season, according to ESPN. It seems unlikely at this point that New York will pick up those options for 2020/21 and ’21/22.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Mills, Payton, More

More than 48 hours after news broke that the Knicks had parted ways with head coach David Fizdale, the team released a formal statement on Sunday night that expanded on its initial, bare-bones announcement from Friday — albeit not by much.

“The New York Knicks organization would like to thank David Fizdale for his leadership and professionalism over the past two seasons,” the new statement read. “He represented the organization with nothing but class. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Sunday’s press release included a longer statement from Fizdale himself, who thanked team president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry, and owner James Dolan for the opportunity to coach the Knicks, and expressed gratitude to Knicks fans for their “passion and commitment.”

Typically, when a team issues a statement like the one New York did on Sunday, it’s attributed to the team’s head of basketball operations or owner. However, the Knicks’ press release on Fizdale notably didn’t mention Mills, as Marc Berman of The New York Post points out, which may be another signal that the team president is on shaky ground.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News explores potential replacements for Mills if the Knicks decide to make a front office change. The right move would be to hire an accomplished executive and grant him full autonomy, Bondy opines.
  • Sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv that the Knicks have been keeping an eye out for potential moves that would improve the current roster. While New York may be doing its due diligence, it’s hard to imagine the team would become a buyer in advance of the trade deadline. The front office’s uncertain future also complicates matters, as Begley observes.
  • Elfrid Payton, who is back from a hamstring strain, is on a minutes restriction for now, but looked like the Knicks’ best point guard on Saturday, Berman writes for The New York Post, noting that it may just be a matter of time before Payton reclaims the starting job.
  • Westchester Knicks GM Allan Houston pushed hard to have Mike Miller considered for the Knicks’ interim head coaching job once Fizdale was fired, according to Berman. Miller previously coached New York’s G League affiliate in Westchester.
  • Knicks fans deserved a better explanation from the team’s decision-makers for their head coaching change, argues Barbara Barker of Newsday. Mills and Perry didn’t hold a news conference over the weekend to discuss Fizdale’s dismissal.
  • Former Knick Carmelo Anthony addressed Fizdale’s firing and the perception that stars don’t want to play for the franchise. Steve Popper of Newsday has the details and the quotes from Anthony.

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.”

Knicks Reportedly “Obsessed” With Masai Ujiri

The Knicks are “obsessed” and “enamored” with Raptors executive Masai Ujiri as the next man to run the franchise, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. A front office shakeup is expected in the wake of yesterday’s firing of head coach David Fizdale, especially considering the poor track record of team president Steve Mills.

Begley speculates it would take “significant money and full autonomy” to land Ujiri, who is already in a comfortable spot after building a championship team. Even if the Knicks are willing to grant that, Ujiri may not want to work for a controversial figure like James Dolan, and he is signed with Toronto until 2021, a contract he said in October that he plans to honor.

Echoing a report we shared last week, Begley states that the Knicks believe Ujiri could be drawn to New York City to provide a larger platform for his charitable work with the Giants of Africa Foundation. However, there was similar speculation about Washington, D.C., a few months ago when the Wizards were restructuring their front office, and Ujiri opted to stay in Toronto.

There’s more Knicks news to pass along:

  • Despite a 4-18 start and six straight losing seasons, the Knicks’ front office job is still viewed as appealing around the league, Begley adds in the same story. The team has drafted well under general manager Scott Perry and has held on to its first-round picks. The Knicks also retained cap flexibility by signing seven players to short-term contracts this summer after failing to land their top targets in free agency.
  • A few players got to say goodbye to Fizdale before he left the team, Taj Gibson tells Begley (Twitter link). Gibson said Fizdale was emotional during the departure, adding, “Guys loved him.”
  • Mark Jackson, a former Knicks guard and ex-head coach of the Warriors, is a 5-1 favorite to be the next head coach, relays Adam Zagoria for Forbes. The oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag have Kenny Smith second at 6-1 and Italian coach Ettore Messina at 7-1. Next in line are three college coaches, Michigan’s Juwan Howard, Vanderbilt’s Jerry Stackhouse and Villanova’s Jay Wright.
  • Interim coach Mike Miller thanked Fizdale and the Knicks organization during today’s pre-game press conference (video link from Vorkunov). Neither Mills nor Perry has addressed the media since the firing became official, and nobody from management has commented apart from an unattributed statement that was released Friday.
  • Former NBA player Keith Bogans has been named to Miller’s staff, the Knicks announced on Twitter.

Knicks Players Held Meeting Supporting Fizdale Hours Before Firing

Hours before the firing of fired head coach David Fizdale, Knicks players — led by veteran Marcus Morris — held a players-only meeting in support of their now former coach, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports.

Morris stressed accountability and unselfishness to the roster and singled out Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, sources told Bondy. The meeting occurred prior to Fizdale running practice on Friday, hours before his dismissal.

New York was coming off back-to-back blowout losses at the hands of the Bucks and Nuggets. The Knicks became the seventh team in NBA history to suffer losses of 35 points or more in back-to-back contests. Questions surrounding Fizdale’s job security lingered ever since team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry‘s impromptu press conference in mid-November.

At 4-18, the Knicks have the worst record in the NBA and appear headed for another 50-loss season. The team named former G League coach Mike Miller the interim head coach. Now, questions surround not only who will be the Knicks’ next coach but also, Mills’ tenure as team president appears to be winding down.

All told, after missing out on marquee free agents this summer, the Knicks pivoted to signing several role players to fill out the roster. Thus far, it has resulted in the NBA’s worst record and the firing of their head coach 22 games into the season.