The New York Knicks head coaching vacancy has now been put to rest; Derek Fisher signed his five-year, $25 million contract, the same exact offer that was handed to one of Phil Jackson‘s apprentices Steve Kerr.
While there are already naysayers saying that the hiring of Fisher was a bad move (c’mon, guys), this was a great hire.
I guess Jackson’s $25,000 tampering fine about Fisher paid off, eh?
To paraphrase a New York Times headline, the grizzled veteran player morphed into the rook head coach. The mentee is now the mentor. The amount of respect between Fisher and Phil is immeasurable. Obviously, he has the five championships (RINGZZZZZ) on his belt, along with his 18 years of replete playing experience (the 0.4 shot is one of the best playoff moments I’ve witnessed ever); he’s played in Jackson’s triangle and has upheld his relationship with Phil ever since, which pretty much landed him the job in the first place.
People raise the question about Fisher being overpaid. He’s now one of the highest paid coaches in the league, along with Doc Rivers, Stan Van Gundy, Gregg Popovich and, funny enough, Steve Kerr, at the same value.
At this point, I can care less about the money. People have to realize that the Knicks don’t, and shouldn’t, have any financial issues, and are held by James Dolan, someone that shouldn’t be running out of money anytime soon.
Coaches’ salaries don’t count towards the salary cap or luxury tax. People are making a fuss about an issue that’s a non-issue. He’s going to be making a lot of money, and yeah. Whatever. Next…
Being the role player starter, much like Mario Chalmers has been with the Heat since the inception of Miami’s Big Three, Fisher playing alongside Kobe Bryant (as well as controlling Kobe’s ego) and Kevin Durant could benefit Carmelo Anthony, if he comes back, of course.
If Anthony ends up opting out of his ETO, D-Fish’s disposition and credentials will be a part of a rebuilding project that could last for a few years.
There’s no question that Fisher has leadership. Tons of leadership. He’s one of the main reasons why the NBA had a season in 2011-12, being the poster boy representative for the player’s side; he served as the president of the NBAPA for almost seven years before his contract expired.
Kobe even called him his favorite teammate ever. Fisher said the same about Kobe. The head coaching acumen isn’t there yet, because, obviously, Fisher hasn’t coached yet, but the negotiating is; the Knicks’ locker room had their fair share of volatility.
Mike Woodson completely lost the locker room; Tyson Chandler chastised his macabre switching schemes; Kenyon Martin and Metta World Peace (how much more volatile can you get?) got into a little altercation, later denying it (like that meant anything) and J.R Smith just continued to be J.R.
Surviving in the Big Apple is a daunting, arduous task. The biggest market in the country criticizes athletes/coaching personnel like a scavenger feeds on its prey. Bearing Fisher’s prior Player Association experience in mind, he’s shown that he’s a good-natured guy and can probably answer barrages of questions from media scrums.
Honestly, I looked forward to the Knicks losing most nights, just so I could listen to Woodson’s latest press conference excuses to why the Knicks lost one day/night after another, because they were pathetic to the bone.
Taking Jeff Hornacek, Mark Jackson (well, not now) and Jason Kidd‘s recent successes as former players turning into head coaches into account, this is the bandwagon Fisher is hoping to hop on aboard to.
D-Fish’s hiring is following the trend of former players not having prior coaching experience. Hornacek came second to Gregg Popovich in COY voting, amassing 339 total points to Pop’s 380 and 37 first place votes to Pop’s 59 after coaching a Suns team to 48 wins that was penned as 20-25 win team in the lion’s share of preseason primers.
Before Jackson recently got fired, he helped the Warriors advance to the playoffs in their last two seasons and Jason Kidd got to the playoffs, getting eliminated by the Heat in the second round.
Fisher may not achieve the success of any of that company in his first season; Jackson didn’t, because of Stephen Curry‘s nagging ankle injuries. In order for D-Fish to have any success as a coach, a massive roster overhaul needs to happen. The roster as constructed is beyond jocular; Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani have pending player options, which, in the unfortunate reality that this is, they might accept them.
Raymond Felton, pending jail time, is still the starting point guard and, of course, the possibility of Anthony coming back is dangling on a rope half-cut from a cliff.
Hopefully this’ll be the start of something fresh. Assuming Kobe is healthy come next season, who wouldn’t love to see the first Laker-Knick game?
Let’s wish D-Fish good luck and Phil for going all in on one of his disciples.