Derek Fisher: The Pressure is on For the Knicks’ New Coach


Well, as was rumored all along, the New York Knicks coach will be a point guard that played for Phil Jackson, won a bunch of titles alongside an all-time great shooting guard, and is famous for hitting some big shots.

The thing is this guy, Derek Fisher retired less than a month ago and the original frontrunner for the job, Steve Kerr spurned Phil to coach the Splash Brothers out in Oakland.

Whether Fisher was the second, third, or eighth choice, all that matters is he is the man now coaching the Knicks. After last year’s lackluster season and a potential departure of the team’s best player since Patrick Ewing, there is a lot on Fisher’s plate.

Currently rumors are swirling that LeBron James is interested in playing with Carmelo Anthony, that Anthony may opt in for one more season, and then there is the whole Kevin Love to New York thing. Really though, regardless of the veracity of these rumors, another bad season by the Knicks will negate all of them.

If Melo opts in for one more year and the Knicks go 37-45 again, he will leave for another team. The same goes for if LeBron opts in with his eyes on New York. It would be an impossible sell that a second-year coach who missed the playoffs in the East is a better idea than Eric Spoelstra, Pat Riley, and Miami.

The truth is, unless the Knicks opt to slowly rebuild the team, they need to be good next year, or at least decent. They can’t allow other teams to set up a layup line on them on a nightly basis and on the other end, stand around and do nothing leaving Anthony to operate a 1-on-5 offensive game plan. The triangle offense has to work and it has to convince Anthony that it can work with his talents to bring a title back to New York.

These scenarios aren’t only if Anthony opts in for another year though. Don’t think for one second that a player who just turned 30, whose friends are racking up titles in Miami, and will be plagued by the stigma of being a ball hog for the rest of time unless he wins a title, will just sit there collecting both his money and a lot of losses

We have seen Anthony hijack a team’s season to get himself traded once already. And while he wouldn’t have the leverage of looming free agency like he did back then, in no sport is it easier for one player to make an impact on a team positive, or negative, than in basketball.

It is not even a criticism necessarily of Anthony to suggest he may do this. He really does need a title to cement his legacy as something other than a volume scorer who cared more about his stats than the team’s ability to win. He knows it. He plays with a guy in Tyson Chandler who helped Dirk Nowitzki turn his legacy from a soft European to one of the most beloved and clutch players of the last decade.

There is also the elephant in the room that the fellow New York team (I refuse to call them rivals when there has been no evidence of such) Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd made the playoffs, won a round, and from January-April had the Nets looking like a real dark horse in the East.

All of these things are looming over Fisher’s head as the Knicks coach and unless Anthony bolts and Phil blows the whole damn thing up, will be there in November.

Fisher has never been a player to shy away from the pressure on the court and now it’s time to embrace it from the bench.