Mary Altaffer / Associated Press
NEW YORK ̵
Tuesday was no different. The Knicks introduced their new head coach, David Fizdale, the 11th man to hold this position since Jeff Van Gundy in late 2001 and fifth since 2014 (extra snack for those poor initiates who can name the previous 10). Of course, a new head coach means another preliminary press conference, and so we were back here sitting in a hall at Madison Square Garden when the last liberator of the Knicks, in this case Fizdale, took the stage to share the countless ways he planned to face the task that had scared 10 coaches and even more front office executives from him:
How to fix the Knicks.
On the other hand, things are a bit different this time. For one, Fizdale is not considered a rescuer; It's just the latest puzzle piece compiled by team boss Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry. He also joins a team that, unhappy things have lately, is in a good position. The Knicks will have a cap room next summer. You have a lottery this year and probably next year as well. Rookie Frank Ntilikina, who will not turn 20 at the end of July, is already one of the league's best defenders.
And here's Kristaps Porzingis, a talent that has the potential to become a franchise cornerstone for teams looking for years to come.
"The best way to describe it is the future of the NBA," said Fizdale Tuesday. "Look around who's playing, they've got all the guys super-long, super-athletic, super-talented, super-tough-he'll fit all the qualities of a megastar and a guy who can really push a franchise." high places. "
Which brings us back to Fizdale, and Mills' and Perry's decision to entrust him with the future of the team and the question of whether they are smart enough.
Of course, a press conference, and all that Platitudes and what goes along with them can not answer that question, and so it is said that the Knicks will suddenly turn into a defensive team with championship caliber, because Fizdale said he wants a "loud defense that triggers the offensive" naive
But that does not mean that there are no bites of truth from Fizdale's press conference, or, in this case, reasons for Knick's fans to feel optimistic about Fizdale's attitude.
Firstly, Fizdale has made it clear that he has a modern way of thinking in basketball, this size should not determine the position. When asked if he wanted to play Porzingis primarily as his only big man on the ground or next to a second, Fizdale replied: "Why should I limit that? Why do I have a cap?" I just see so many different ways him, "said Fizdale. "Obviously, if you play him around 5, it's like the super lineup you always see from different teams – I do not even know how you fit with him – he can play 4. If you have a different speed." You might even be able to play positionless.
This type of thinking, Perry added later, was one of Fizdale's attributes that appealed to the Knicks.
"You hear him talk about positionless basketball, not scared of trying different combinations," Perry said. "With where the game is going today, that's a really nice quality he brings."
It's not that Positionless is the solution to the Knicks issues or a tactic they must take the fact that both the coach and the frontoffice appear to be ready to adopt a modern strategy (unlike, for example, when Jeff Hornacek ridiculously claimed that he would change the Knicks offense while Phil Jackson is still sitting in his front office) is a coordination of thinking and intention that MSG has not seen for years.
This was not Fizdale, who was preaching a few key phrases that he thought his interviewing pas They also wanted to hear it. Part of his rise through the coaching levels, especially with the Miami Heat, can be attributed to his ability to connect with stars such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But he also received a Ph.D. There in the basketball philosophy of a team that stood out in many of the game's strategic advances.
"He's really smart," said an NBA scout who worked at the same time as Fizdale in Miami. "All our coaches there loved him."
Issac Baldizon / Getty Images
On the other hand, it was not the strategy that drove Fizdale out of Memphis after just 101 games. It was his inability to communicate his wish plan with his players.
Fizdale, according to sources and as reported elsewhere, nudged head with Grizzlies star Marc Gasol. His relentless recalls to his former employer, The Heat, also angered players.
"I just had the feeling that when I went in there, I saw a crew that was at the point where the window was shrinking, and I probably put in a little too much gunfire," Fizdale said frankly on Tuesday , "I did not let certain things grow organically."
Fizdale will have to prove that he has taken this failure to heart, although the fact that he does not join an everlasting playoff team – like the Grizzlies – would make it easier. He can also make himself popular with his new players ,
Whether he can succeed in these areas has not been known for years. At the moment, the only thing you can say with confidence is that the Knicks are ruling a man who has all the attributes you're looking for in a new coach.
That does not mean there will not be another press conference in two more years. What does it mean, however, is that the future of the Knicks looks brighter today than a few weeks ago.
Yaron Weitzman covers the NBA for the Bleacher Report. Follow Yaron on Twitter @YaronWeitzman listen to his Knicks-themed podcast here and sign up here for his newsletter.