New York Knicks: Fizdale Fired or JD and the Straight Shot Play The Hits

New York Knicks, James Dolan
Dec 21, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks executive chairman James Dolan watches during the second quarter against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

So David Fizdale is no more and Steve Mills has found his scapegoat. Business as usual in New York, another failed coach taking the fall for a garbage front office. Whoever comes in next has almost no chance to be successful as well. The team obviously has no idea what it’s doing.

Was Fizdale a great coach? No. Was he to blame for the atrocity that is this year’s Knickerbockers? Also a resounding no. It’s hard to tell who’s at fault when your delusional front office thinks you’re a playoff contender, and your coach signed on with dreams of an engaged Porzingis and a superstar to be named later. What they didn’t realize is at The Garden, all champagne dreams turn to urine.

Fizdale was not a brilliant tactician, but even Red Auerbach would struggle to build a ten-man rotation with five power forwards and three-point guards. Fizdale did not sign ball stopping forwards Marcus Morris and Julius Randle, and then expect them to coexist. He also didn’t draft Frank Ntikilina,  trade for Dennis Smith and then sign Elfrid Payton. I’m also fairly certain he wasn’t pleading for Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis to round out their five 4’s line-up. Typically positionless basketball is when players can fill multiple roles, not just ignoring the other 4 positions.

You could take issue with R.J. Barrett’s workload….but you would be an idiot. He’s a rookie with no miles or injuries who needs in-game experience. An actual concern is the DNP’s of Kevin Knox, you know since he also needs reps and you spent a lottery pick on him one year ago. However if your job is on the line, and your boss holds a press conference saying the team needs to win more….well it’s hard to let the young guys take their lumps.

Frank has looked like a serviceable rotation player, and I’d give Fizdale credit for that but it took an injury and bereavement leave to get him off the bench. The best I can say about Fizdale is that there were no truck parties, yacht incidents, or players openly assaulting each other. Even noted pugilist Bobby Portis has kept his hands to himself. He was a C- coach for an F- franchise.

Mills and Perry are a bigger part of the problem but they’re also not the true heart of it. It’s all about Jimmy Dolan at the end of the day. I’ve heard some say “well at least he doesn’t meddle and he spends money”. These things are true and would be great if he hired intelligent people to run the franchise. The part Dolan apologists leave out is he handed blank checks and total authority to Isiah Thomas and Bubba Ho-Tep Phil Jackson.

The less said about the Thomas regime the better, and as for the Zen, Master….he stopped following the NBA in like 2008. Jackson had one good idea, and that was seeing the writing on the wall and wanting to move Porzingis at peak value. Of course, that’s the one time Dolan stepped in and meddled. Instead of Jayson Tatum the Knicks got DSJ….cool.

Originally this was supposed to be the final installment of my “Good Help Is Hard To Find” and I thought the Knicks should leave Fizdale in place and deal 2 of their power forwards and see if he could make a real rotation. Instead, Mills and Dolan decided “You can fool some of the people some of the time and that’s good enough for me.” and let him go. Don’t be fooled, this fish rots from the head on down.