Knicks: Derek Fisher Wasn’t Wrong For His Comments

Nov 4, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher reacts in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher reacts in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher recently preached process over playoffs, and is right to do so!

Last week, Knicks head coach Derek Fisher expressed that the Knicks making the playoffs this year does not constitute a bad season, but rather, the Knicks continuing the process and building the team up and continue to see development from the players on the roster. This was met, as expected, with some backlash. Based on my twitter timeline, people wanted Fisher gone, even after he made some pretty good progress this season.

And, well, he’s not wrong about his assessment and the team goal.

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Saying, out loud, that making the playoffs is not the goal is rather silly. The playoffs should always be the goal, and the Knicks are in an Eastern Conference where there are several good teams, but no real great team. Cleveland is the best team in the East, Boston would be interesting if they made a trade, I personally like Toronto’s talent, but other than that? Sneaking into the playoffs isn’t the craziest thing that would happen for New York.

However, Fisher, and I assume omnipresent President of the Knicks Phil Jackson, wants to build the Knicks up, and I don’t disagree.

This season, the Knicks have made dramatic strides in the positive direction. They’ve found gems in Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway. Made good draft picks with Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant. Carmelo Anthony, off of knee surgery, has returned to a solid level of play, all while becoming more of a dynamic offensive fulcrum, capable of directing and operating the offense in times of need. Melo has always been a good passer, but in previous years, he wasn’t always a willing one.

And the free agency returns have been solid. Robin Lopez gives them a strong center who can rebound, set screens and keep the bigger, more brooding big men of the NBA off of Porzingis. Arron Afflalo has been hot and cold, but more likely, another option as a floor spacer and a great low-post option as a guard. Derrick Williams, in 15-minute increments, has provided some athleticism and much-needed above-the-rim play.

Most importantly – the Knicks are now normal. There hasn’t been the hasty trade of multiple draft picks for an alleged superstar (or Andrea Bargnani), there hasn’t been a power struggle at the top, pushing Jackson out and bringing in what could only be labeled as a flunkie for owner Jim Dolan or an agency. There’s been no eccentricity from the players, the same that in past years, that would turn the season upside down.

Even some of the trade rumors have been tamed and made sense. The Knicks want a point guard, and they looked at some lower level options and have been linked to Mike Conley, the best point guard on the market next summer. In 2007, the Knicks would be all over players like Tyreke Evans, willing to give them 120 percent of his value, and throw some draft picks on top to match.

Last season, the Knicks stunk. This year, they’re mildly average, but with room for improvement. Karl-Anthony Towns is the Rookie of The Year, but Porzingis looks like a star. The two hardest positions to acquire in the near future are a two-way center and a three-and-D wing. The Knicks, with the fourth pick in the draft, acquired one and have him under his rookie contract for the next three years.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Warriors are a juggernaut, but Stephen Curry was drafted in 2009. Klay Thompson in 2011, then Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green in 2012. They traded Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut during that season. Went on and acquired Andre Iguodala in the 2013 offseason. Two years later Shaun Livingston and all the while plateauing under Mark Jackson, they hired Steve Kerr last year.

The goal for the Knicks is to one day win an NBA championship. It’s going to take several moves and years. Some moves will fail, others will succeed. The goal is to always be in place to acquire players and always have assets, even second round picks, to facilitate a move or draft a potential rotation player. The Knicks, from 2000 to 2013, went about it the wrong way, so much so that they had to give Jackson a bunch of money to run the team.

Next: Knicks: Jerian Grant Should Get Some Time With the Starting Unit

Missing the playoffs would make for a long spring and summer, but as long as the Knicks continue this path – acquiring rotation guys for cheap, making good draft picks, keeping the idea of building a roster in mind – the Knicks should be fine in the long haul.