New York Knicks get: head coach Derek Fisher
KOBEsh: It’s official. Derek Fisher is now not only an ex-NBA player, but the head coach of YOUR….New York Knicks.
Much like the Jason Kidd signing last offseason, Fisher’s hire moved from sheer speculation to recorded fact rather quickly and within weeks of his last game as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kidd’s first season surely wasn’t a disaster, as he coached the imperfect and injury-riddled Brooklyn Nets to 44 wins, but it certainly wasn’t perHITMEfect. It’s clear that Kidd isn’t completely ready for the responsibilities as a head coach and has a ton of room to grow, but at the same time was able to organize a solid defense from an old, unathletic team of vets. Offensively, it’s hard to say whether or not the team was hampered by Deron Williams’s ankles, KG’s declining skill set or the fact that their scoring schemes just weren’t that great to begin with.
Either way, with a team just across the East river, there’s an obvious precedent for how good Derek Fisher’s first season should be. Is this a better hire than Kidd? And what should be the baseline for a “successful” season?
BockerKnocker: Based on only what we know now, this is not a better hire than Kidd. The Brooklyn Nets hired their #1 choice in the former All-Star point guard, while Phil Jackson’s #1 choice gets the privilege to coach Stephen Curry. We have to assume that Phil wanted Kerr more than Fisher, for reasons that don’t truly matter, because Fisher was New York’s #2 option.
A successful season is a playoff berth, sad as it is. It might not be enough for fans, but a first-year head coach with no prior experience should be happy with that. Jackson should be happy with that. But all of this depends on if Carmelo Anthony returns. If Anthony is back in blue and orange, then a playoff berth is not enough. With Melo, Fisher would need to advance to the second round.
Former and current players continue to laud the hire, speaking of Fisher’s presence within the locker room and his championship experience. All well and good, but what about the drama he left behind in Utah and Dallas? Everybody should forgive a man for wanting to tend to important family issues, but Oklahoma City isn’t exactly close to Los Angeles. I’m not a fan of Fisher as a player, so he’ll have a lot to prove as a coach. He can’t bicep curl his way out of the spotlight.
KOBEsh: How dare you question the power of Fisher’s bicep curls. They can finish off wars and end famine, as well as coach to the Knicks to the playoffs.
What’s been under-emphasized a lot is just how bad a shape Fisher left the Player’s Association in, as well as–as you said–his stints in Dallas and Utah. As great of an on-court leader as he’s been in LA and OKC, he also has had far from a spotless record, as recently as a couple of years ago. I don’t think this will necessarily preclude his ability to be a great coach, but this certainly isn’t a Steve Kerr situation where I really don’t have any incidents to question regarding his past.
However, moving to the x’s and o’s…Jackson has allegedly been promised autonomy in his position by owner James Dolan–what type of autonomy do you feel Fisher will have? Do you see him as just an on-court extension of P-Jax?
KOBEsh: Fisher will likely be a Phil Jackson robot as he gets his feet wet. But if the Utah, Dallas, and Players Association departures have taught us anything, it’s that Fisher will at least try to get his way when backed into a corner. What will happen when the Knicks get the first of the many 3-game losing streaks next year?
Fisher also knows that he’s essentially tenured as Knicks coach as long as Jackson is making basketball decisions. This worries me, when coupled with the fact that he received a 3-year deal (thanks yet again, Mr. Lacob). I wouldn’t be surprised if Fisher’s head starts getting bigger as the season wears on.
You know what I’d like to see? Let’s have Fisher coach the summer league team. Let’s get all the kinks of being a first year head coach out of the way in Vegas/Orlando. That would be pretty cool.
KOBEsh: I agree – I think a Summer League stint is really going to help him. After all, Jason Kidd wasn’t a complete disaster towards the end of last season, but then again, he also had a nice little warm up a few months before Opening Night down in Orlando.
In regards to his coaching abilities, like Steve Kerr and Mark Jackson before him, I really have no insight on how Fisher will be as a coach. He’s certainly a leader of men, much like the two aforementioned guards-turned-coaches, but I have no idea if Fish can assemble a defense worth buying into. We won’t know any of this until he hits the court. Regardless, much like other guys who are stepping into a head coaching job as their first coaching job of any kind, it’s going to be a few years before Fisher really comes into his own. It’s not going to be instantaneous. D-Fish might be a great NBA coach one day, but I’m almost positive that it won’t happen on this job.