When New York Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry called an impromptu press conference 10 games into the season to scold the team for, among other things, its lack of consistent effort, you knew coach David Fizdale was being set up as the fall guy. On Friday, Fizdale was officially fired.
There are a lot of layers to this story. The Knicks’ ongoing dysfunction is the lowest-hanging fruit. They’re a mess. Have been for as long as a lot of people can even remember. Mills and Perry put together an extremely flawed roster with no starting-level point guard and no shooting. They didn’t want to spend money on legitimate needle-moving free agents after missing on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, choosing instead to save their money for future summers.
Yet they still expected to win?
It’s ridiculous to look at this Knicks roster and think it has a chance to win at any sort of meaningful level. The team is 4-18. But they do have R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson as building blocks. They do have a lot of cap space. No matter how incompetent they appear, they’re still the Knicks. They still play in New York. In the Garden. They’re never out of the game. It will only take one big-time free agent wanting to play savior for a team and city desperate to anoint a hero, and things can change on a dime.
So someone is going to want this coaching job. They’re going to look at the opportunity and the stage and be willing to overlook the risk of boarding a sinking ship. Per Jabari Young of CNBC, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is a name to watch. From Young:
San Antonio Spurs assistant head coach Becky Hammon is also an interesting name, and according to a league source, the former New York Liberty guard would have interest in coaching the Knicks if she could land a long-term deal, with the belief a four- or five-year deal would be sufficient.
Hammon has become a highly respected assistant, and most people around the league think it’s only a matter of time before she gets her shot as a head coach — whether it’s as Gregg Popovich’s eventual successor in San Antonio or somewhere else. It would be quite a task just to get this Knicks organization heading in the right direction, let alone actually becoming a playoff and championship contender.
That’s why Hammon, and presumably anyone else interested in this job, would need the security of a long-term deal. This is going to take some time. That said, Fizdale got a four-year deal and didn’t even make through his second season. At least he’s still going to get his money — the Knicks are contractually obligated to pay him the some $17 million he has left on his original $22 million deal.