The New York Knicks need Kristaps Porzingis to be on the same page as David Fizdale. Thankfully, he’s excited about Fizdale’s vision.
New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale knows as well as anyone how important it is to have a strong relationship with the franchise player. Regardless of whom one prefers to blame for their falling out, Fizdale was ultimately fired by the Memphis Grizzlies for failing to connect with Marc Gasol.
Having gained perspective from his shocking exit from Memphis, Fizdale is putting in the necessary work to avoid the same outcome with Kristaps Porzingis.
Fizdale has taken accountability for his role in the events that unfolded in Memphis. He’s also made it a point to prove that he’s learned from his mistakes, which includes his consistent communication with Porzingis this offseason.
In an interview with Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated, Fizdale revealed how Porzingis feels about the new style of play and how he’s challenging the 22-year-old to improve.
"“Excitement. He likes exactly what I’m talking about from the standpoint of style of play. The fact that I won’t lock him into any position, that I’ll always try to put him in a position of success, that I’m going to challenge him to be an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. I think he really likes the idea of the way I operate, how I’m going to hold guys accountable to a strict level. He likes the sound of that.”"
Fizdale is regarded as a player’s coach for his ability to forge relationships, but the last two sentences of the quote may be the most telling of all.
Porzingis previously stated that he has aspirations to be named Defensive Player of the Year. Thus, Fizdale challenging him to realize that potential has inevitably appealed to an ambitious individual who was an All-Star in just his third NBA season.
The most crucial point that Fizdale made, however, is that he’s going to hold players accountable with an unwavering set of standards.
The fact that Porzingis, “Likes the sound of that,” is a sign that he’s ready to be pushed hard in practice and held to the highest of expectations during games.
Fizdale’s tenure will be defined by his ability to remain connected with Porzingis, but that’s a statement that requires context. It won’t always be sunshine and flowers for the coach and franchise player, but they must not lose sight of the ultimate goal.
That will require Fizdale holding his franchise player to the highest standard of all, and Porzingis understanding that they may clash in the process.
Thankfully for the New York Knicks, Kristaps Porzingis seems to understand and agree with what the future will hold for he and David Fizdale.