New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale kept it positive with his input on the 2018-19 team.
David Fizdale took over for Jeff Hornacek as the New York Knicks head coach after the 2017-18 season. After two losing seasons, an injury to Kristaps Porzingis and roster questions, there’s a task at hand for the 2018-19 campaign.
Since the hire, Fizdale has looked to maintain a relationship with Porzingis, traveling to Latvia to visit New York’s star player. Though a return timetable remains unknown from the ACL tear, the meeting can develop a camaraderie between the two.
The roster goes beyond Porzingis, with a roster of young talent and veterans set to embark on the 2018-19 season. Fizdale, who spoke to NBC New York (h/t New York Post), dove into his relationship with the former 2015 NBA draft pick and embraced the rookies set to become part of the roster, including Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson:
"“It’s already happening,” Fizdale said about the franchise’s rebirth in the interview with Channel 4’s Bruce Beck. “Kristaps will come back healthy. He was already having a big-time season last year when he got knocked down. We had an awesome draft with Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier — our two-way player. Scott [Perry] and these guys are sticking to an awesome plan, bringing in guys maybe that didn’t work out at a place before but are high draft picks. [With] good player development, good culture, they can turn into something they were expected to be. We’re doing it the right way.”"
Fizdale referenced Porzingis’ 48 games from 2017-18, when he averaged a career-high 22.7 points and 39.5 percent from three-point range to start the post-Carmelo Anthony era. Along with 18.5 shot attempers per game, the Knicks’ offensive leader became clear.
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With the rookies, the Knicks selected Knox and Robinson in the first and second round, respectively, of the 2018 NBA Draft. Both were at the forefront of the organization’s summer-league squad, with Knox on the All-NBA Summer League First Team and Robinson’s average of 13 points and 10.2 rebounds.
Trier, who went undrafted, made a name for himself on New York’s summer squad, with 17 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists. While he’s not on a rookie-scale deal, there’s still the chance for growth in the G League and the occasional appearance if the main roster needs an extra man.
One of Fizdale’s comments may reference Mario Hezonja, a summer acquisition that signed a one-year deal. The Orlando Magic selected Hezonja at No. 5 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, but never found his footing and did not have the fourth year of his rookie contract picked up. That happened after a 35.5 shooting percentage in the Croatian’s sophomore year.
These pieces might take time to come together in Fizdale’s first year, but there’s optimism for it to work and improve the Knicks’ standing in the Eastern Conference.