New York Knicks: David Fizdale always kept realistic expectations

New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale during the NBA London Game 2019 at the O2 Arena, London. (Photo by Simon Cooper/PA Images via Getty Images)
New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale during the NBA London Game 2019 at the O2 Arena, London. (Photo by Simon Cooper/PA Images via Getty Images) /

New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale always kept the expectations for the 2018-19 season in check, and he reiterated this after the year ended.

“Developmental” was the term used for the New York Knicks before the 2018-19 season started. Without a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, expectations were reasonably low, and it led to a 17-65 campaign, which tied for the worst in franchise history.

However, the Knicks were real on “developmental,” and head coach David Fizdale knows this, too. Per the Trentonian, the 44-year-old ensured he was honest about the team’s direction:

"“We tried to make a real point of that early in the press conferences,” Fizdale said. “Just be brutally honest and don’t make it seem like we’re going to be better than we are, we’re going to do something magical, sprinkle pixie dust and all of a sudden we’re winning. Like, that’s not real and we wanted to be real.”"

Fizdale and New York never shied away from this initiative. Sure, there was the first five games of the season when Enes Kanter, Lance Thomas, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke all started, but that disappeared quickly in favor of Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier receiving more playing time. Robinson soared and became this team’s most exciting player, Knox had his moments and Trier rose from a two-way contract to an NBA deal.

It also alienated players who were not guaranteed parts of the future.

Kanter made critical post-game reactions of not starting, when the Knicks were not winning. This continued into him missing games via coach’s decision, before an eventual release after the trade deadline.

Courtney Lee‘s role was nonexistent prior to his Dallas send-off. A neck injury impacted his spot in the rotation, and upon return, Fizdale sparingly used the 33 year old.

Situations differed with veterans, though, including DeAndre Jordan. He played upon arrival from the Mavericks, until Fizdale sat him for the final seven games of the season in favor of Robinson and Luke Kornet.

While this year pushed “developmental,” 2019-20 might not have as much of this, with the Knicks owning $70 million in cap space to spend on players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker. Any of them increase the timetable on this rebuild, even with Robinson, Knox and Trier — who has a team option this summer — around.

Fizdale will have a different situation to handle, and it will test him as a coach after a honeymoon season. There is a long path to travel before that happens, though, and that sits in the hands of general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills. They might have the most pressure of anyone in the Knicks organization, due to the owned financial flexibility to sign two max players.

dark. Next. What if NYK don't win the lottery?

Nothing is concrete, so they have work ahead. The New York Knicks will have a different look, either way, with most of the roster set for free agency. Will Fizdale handle the task at hand?