It’s a new day for the New York Knicks, and for many fans, it is much-needed.
The front office has officially announced that 43-year-old David Fizdale has agreed to be the Knicks’ new head coach. The club has seen more head coaches than playoffs wins since the 2001-02 series, but Fizdale is ready to rectify that and it starts with Kristaps Porzingis. The front office’s relationship with Porzingis has been noticeably strained since he skipped last year’s exit interview with Steve Mills and then-president Phil Jackson.
But before Fizdale can even think about building a team around Porzingis, he must repair that strained relationship. And according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Fizdale is well aware and plans on flying to Porzingis’ home country of Latvia for some face time. Porzingis’ is up for a contract extension worth more than $150 million, and if the Knicks plan on him being their guy, they need to have a frank and honest conversation.
If the arduous rebuilding process starts now, the Knicks are looking good because they have a top 10 pick from next month’s draft and a high pick in the second round, too. Other than building the team up with pieces like Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina, the team has also seen the emergence of Trey Burke and veteran Michael Beasley playing a key role. But the Knicks will also have to make the Garden a destination for free agents, and team culture will play a huge role in that—even the team that fired Fizdale still loves him.
Remember, Knicks owner James Dolan had such a bad run-in with legend Charles Oakley at MSG that Michael Jordan and commissioner Adam Silver had to step in to repair that relationship. There’s no doubt that the team ownership’s careless treatment of a club legend has left a sour taste in the mouths of fans and players thinking of joining the team. Then there’s Joakim Noah; he got into an altercation with then-head coach Jeff Hornacek and was subsequently banished from the team.
If Fizdale, the former Grizzlies coach, is able to repair the team’s relationship with the veteran center, it’ll show just how serious it is. Fizdale also worked for the Miami Heat and is close with LeBron James, so, you never know….
The 43-year-old has signed a multi-year deal with the organization, just like general manager Scott Perry and Steve Mills, so they have the next few years to figure out how to turn a storied franchise back into a playoff caliber team.