Knicks Rumors

Knicks Notes: Fizdale Fallout, Potential Long-Term Replacements

The Knicks fired David Fizdale earlier today while also relieving Keith Smart of his duties as assistant coach. The move comes after a 4-18 start, which ties a record for worst in franchise history.

While Fizdale repeatedly told reporters that he had owner James Dolan’s backing, Jabari Young of CNBC.com hears from an agent who represents coaches around the league that the firing was “inevitable.” Assistant coach Mike Miller will now take over as the interim head coach with 60 games to go in the season.

Former Warriors coach and Knicks guard Mark Jackson has been linked to the team as a long-term candidate for the role (any major hire is likely to come in the offseason) and Young reports that Spurs assistant Becky Hammon would be interested in the job should the team be willing to offer her a long-term deal. Young mentions four or five years as the necessary length of the contract.

Young also mentions former Coach of the Year (2007) Sam Mitchell as a good candidate for the short-term, as Mitchell has a reputation of getting top effort out of players.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Jeff Van Gundy, Jason Kidd, and Tyronn Lue are among the former NBA coaches that Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic names as options for the Knicks. Vorkunov also lists several potential candidates without former head coaching experience, such as Jarron Collins, Stephen Silas, and Ettore Messina.
  • The firing of Fizdale won’t clean up the Knicks‘ issues, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today explains. The scribe believes that the front office should shoulder the blame for putting together this roster and simply expecting Fizdale to produce results with it.
  • Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post argues that the Knicks should fire team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry. The regime put together a plan of signing big-name free agents and failed to deliver.

Mike Miller To Become Knicks’ Interim Coach

In the wake of David Fizdale’s firing, the Knicks have made a decision on who will lead the team for the remainder of the season. Mike Miller will be promoted to interim coach, as Shams Charania of The Athletic relays on Twitter.

[RELATED: Knicks fire head coach David Fizdale]

Miller (not to be confused with former NBA player Mike Miller) was the G League Coach of the Year back in the 2017/18 season. He spent four seasons leading the Westchester Knicks before being promoted to the NBA’s bench as an assistant on Fizdale’s staff. Miller has 60 games left in the season to make his mark on the Knicks.

Charania also reports that former NBA player Keith Bogans will become an assistant on Miller’s staff. Bogans had been on the team’s coaching staff in Westchester.

Knicks Fire Head Coach David Fizdale

After starting the season with a record of 4-18, the Knicks have fired coach David Fizdale, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports. The team also fired assistant coach Keith Smart.

New York had another embarrassing loss on Thursday at home vs. the Nuggets, falling 129-92 to Denver and becoming only the seventh team in NBA history to lose back-to-back games by 35 points or more. Fizdale labeled the team’s effort “sickening” after the game, and was also asked by the media if the Knicks’ struggles would fall on him.

“I don’t care about all of that, I don’t even think about that really,” Fizdale said.

Back when he took the gig in 2018, Fizdale chose New York over other offers, such as positions in Charlotte, Phoenix, and Atlanta, Wojnarowski adds. Perhaps another franchise would have been more patient with Fizdale, but nevertheless, the coach finishes his New York stint with a record of 21-83.

According to Wojnarowski, Fizdale’s .202 winning percentage is the fifth-worst mark for a head coach with a single team (minimum 100 games) over the last 30 years.

Fizdale has appeared to be on the hot seat for much of the season, particularly after a November 10 postgame press conference in which executives Steve Mills and Scott Perry publicly discussed their disappointment in the club’s slow start to the season.

Fizdale becomes the first head coach to be fired during the 2019/20 NBA season, and will be replaced in the interim by Mike Miller (not the former NBA player), as we detail in a separate story. Since Fizdale was only in the second season of a four-year, $22MM deal, the Knicks will be on the hook for his remaining salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

David Fizdale May Be Running Out Of Time

The Knicks may be out of patience with coach David Fizdale after their latest embarrassing loss, writes Steve Popper of Newsday.

Fizdale’s team was run out of Madison Square Garden early last night, trailing by as many as 43 points before losing by 37. That followed a 44-point loss Monday in Milwaukee and dropped New York’s record to 4-18, the worst in the Eastern Conference.

“I don’t care about all that,” Fizdale said after the game when asked about his future. “I don’t even think about that, really. I think about the next team we’re playing, I think about the guys in the locker room and how I can help them. At the end of the day, that’s all I care about.”

Knicks fans responded with loud boos to the latest effort, and a few “Fire Fizdale” chants were heard throughout the evening. None of the promise was evident from this summer when the team added seven veteran free agents, and any hope of a quick turnaround is distant memory.

Popper notes that the fans could have targeted their anger in a number of directions, from owner James Dolan to the management team of president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to the on-court talent, who seem worn down by the continuous losing.

Taj Gibson, one of the veterans who signed this summer, came to Fizdale’s defense.

“You’ve got to continue to keep fighting, continue to keep pushing, because nobody in this league is going to feel sorry for you,” he said. “Fiz is doing a good job preaching and keeping guys in tune, but at the same time we have to do a better job, including myself. He can’t keep taking the bullets for us. We have to step up. We have to grow. We have to mature and mature quickly.”

Teammate Marcus Morris declined to comment on Fizdale’s future, responding to an inquiry with, “Next question.”

The path for Knicks won’t get any easier. They face a four-game road trip next week and still have the Pacers, Heat, Bucks and Nets left on their December schedule. Fizdale’s 21-83 record since taking over in New York could get even worse — if he keeps his job.

“I’m still coaching this team. I’m still pushing them,” he told reporters. “I’m still preparing them. We had a hell of a practice before this game, it was just a disappointing output.”

Community Shootaround: Knicks Chaos

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!

Knicks Recall Brazdeikis From G League

  • The Knicks have recalled rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis from the Westchester Knicks, according to a tweet from the team’s PR department. The 6’6″ Michigan forward has appeared in six games for New York.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/4/19

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

  • The Bucks assigned power forward Dragan Bender to the Wisconsin Herd, the team’s PR department tweets. The fourth overall pick of the 2016 draft has averaged 21 PPG and 10 RPG in five starts with the Herd.
  • The Knicks assigned rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis to the Westchester Knicks, the team’s PR department tweets. He’s appeared in six games with the NBA Knicks, averaging 7.0 MPG in those outings.
  • The Cavaliers assigned rookie swingman Dylan Windler to the Canton Charge, the team’s PR department tweets. He has yet to make his NBA debut. The first-rounder is working his way back into basketball shape after recovering from a leg injury.
  • The Pacers recalled Victor Oladipo and Edmond Sumner from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team tweets. They practiced with the Mad Ants as part of their injury rehabs. There is no timetable for their return, the team adds.
  • The Clippers assigned center Mfiondu Kabengele to the Agua Caliente Clippers, the team tweets. The rookie first-rounder out of Florida State has appeared in six NBA games, averaging 3.8 MPG in those outings.
  • The Hawks recalled rookie forward Bruno Fernando and guard Tyrone Wallace from the College Park Skyhawks, the team tweets. Fernando, a second-round pick, is averaging 4.5 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 12.7 MPG while playing 21 games with the NBA team. Wallace has averaged 3.1 PPG in 12.0 MPG in 13 games with Atlanta.
  • The Thunder recalled center Justin Patton from the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. In eight games with the Blue, Patton is averaging 10.3 PPG and  7.5 RPG in 26.2 MPG.
  • The Hornets recalled Cody Martin from the Greensboro Swarm, according to a team press release. The rookie guard appeared in three games with the Swarm, where he averaged 14.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 5.3 APG in 34.3 MPG.

Fizdale May Be On Firing Line

A member of the Knicks organization expects management to fire coach David Fizdale soon, Ian Begley of SNY-TV reports. Though that source doesn’t have decision-making authority on those matters, it shows the uneasiness within the organization at the moment, Begley adds. The Knicks have the Eastern Conference’s worst record and have dropped seven straight despite adding several veteran free agents over the summer.

Knicks Notes: Trier, Payton, Ntilikina, Garnett

Allonzo Trier‘s future with the Knicks appears uncertain after being kept on the bench for eight of the past 10 games, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Trier saw his first game action outside of garbage time in nearly three weeks Monday in New York’s 44-point loss to the Bucks. He scored 10 points in 11 minutes in the first half, but wasn’t used at all after halftime.

Coach David Fizdale hasn’t provided a public explanation for why Trier has been demoted, other than citing the team’s depth at shooting guard with RJ Barrett, Wayne Ellington and Damyean Dotson. There are theories that Trier’s isolation-heavy game doesn’t fit with Fizdale’s emphasis on ball movement.

“You take it head on,’’ Trier said. “Be prepared whenever that time is, continue to work and get better and help this team if I’m playing or not. I got to accept that. They tell me to stay ready.’’

Opportunity could come later in the season if the Knicks start moving on from their veteran free agents. Ellington is among the players who could be moved by the February trade deadline or waived if a deal can’t be worked out.

There’s more from New York:

  • Elfrid Payton, who has played just four games since signing with the team this summer, may be ready to return tomorrow against the Nuggets, Berman tweets. Payton, who was briefly installed as the team’s point guard, has been sidelined since October 28 with a strained right hamstring. That role has been taken over by Frank Ntilikina, who missed Monday’s game with a back injury, but may also be ready for Thursday.
  • Roster flexibility is all the Knicks have left from what could have been a historic offseason, observes Steve Popper of Newsday. With enough cap space to offer two max contracts, the team missed all its top targets and wound up with seven free agents, six on expiring deals. Management can start moving those contracts on December 15, when most newly signed free agents become eligible to be traded.
  • Former NBA star Kevin Garnett is calling out Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for choosing the Nets instead of the Knicks in free agency, relays Neil Best of Newsday. Speaking at a roundtable to promote a new film, Garnett claimed they passed on a chance to breathe life into a historic franchise. “I’m not a Knicks fan by far,” he said. “But if they come to the city and dominate, man, the first superstar to hit New York and be vibing is going to be bigger than life. Remember I said that. Any piece of hope in this city is going to [soar]. People are waiting.”

Knicks Aren’t Ready To Fire Fizdale

Monday’s embarrassment in Milwaukee didn’t push Knicks head coach David Fizdale any closer to losing his job, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post.

A league source tells Berman that management understands the conditions surrounding the 44-point defeat. The Knicks faced one of the league’s best teams and were on the second night of a back-to-back without two of their best defenders in Frank Ntilikina and Marcus Morris. Still, Fizdale will need to show some progress to keep his job through the end of the season.

Fizdale has been on alert since team president Steve Mills conducted a rare post-game press conference following a 2-8 start. New York is 2-9 since then and is off to the franchise’s worst start ever through 21 games. This comes after management hinted that a playoff spot was possible after adding a crop of veteran free agents.

Berman notes that the front office is reluctant to make a move with Fizdale because he has two guaranteed years left on his $22MM contract and because they don’t have an attractive alternative. Berman believes top assistant Keith Smart would depart along with Fizdale if there is a coaching change, leaving Jud Buechler, Caleb Kanales or former G League coach Mike Miller as the remaining choices to take over the team on an interim basis.

Firing Fizdale so soon would leave management with a lot to explain, Berman adds. He was hired last year ahead of 10 other candidates, including reigning Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer. The Knicks failed to interview Steve Clifford and Frank Vogel, who are both having success with their new teams.