Knicks rumors: David Fizdale had offers to coach elsewhere in 2018

New York Knicks (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Before the New York Knicks hired him in 2018, David Fizdale had opportunities elsewhere to become a head coach.

In May 2018, David Fizdale became the fifth full-time head coach of the New York Knicks in the 2010s. He seemed poised to last through 2019 and into 2020, at least when this season opened in October. However, just 22 games in, Fizdale was fired.

Before the Knicks hired Fizdale, the ex-Miami Heat assistant had a handful of opportunities to coach elsewhere, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. The Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Phoenix Suns all offered him their head coaching job, but Fizdale declined, despite not receiving a guarantee to become the Knicks head coach.

Shelburne added that the Milwaukee Bucks were also interested in Fizdale, but nothing moved forward. Mike Budenzholer, who was eventually hired as the Bucks’ head coach, was a finalist for New York’s job in 2018.

As for the other places, Atlanta hired Lloyd Piece, Charlotte brought Steve Clifford in, and the Suns hired and fired Igor Kokoskov after just one season.

Fizdale lasted just 104 games, posting a .202 winning percentage, which became the worst in franchise history. Larry Brown, who went 23-59 in one season, previously had the lowest mark, at .280. Derek Fisher, another coach who worked with the organization earlier this decade, had a .294 mark in 136 games.

The outside opportunities could have offered Fizdale more beneficial situations, as the Hawks have stuck to a slow rebuild, and the Hornets have been somewhat competitive these past two seasons. However, the Suns quickly moved on from Kokoskov, after general manager Ryan McDonough was fired in the preseason.

Fizdale’s ride through New York was difficult. 2018-19 was punted after just five games to play the kids, with Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier all learning on the fly. The in-season trade of Kristaps Porzingis also threw an unexpected wrench into the team’s long-term plans, as the 7-foot-3 Latvian was expected to return from a torn ACL as the face of the franchise.

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The Porzingis trade cleared cap space for the 2019 offseason, which did not result in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard. Instead, a seven-man group, led by Julius Randle and Marcus Morris, produced a 4-18 record to open the 2019-20 season. An awkward presser from president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry followed, and it became all too clear that Fizdale’s job was in jeopardy.

Just 11 games later, Fizdale was out.

It’s an interesting “what-if” on Fizdale taking one of the other jobs, or the Knicks hiring Budenholzer, the 2018-19 NBA Coach of the Year. There’s no telling if the latter man would have found similar success in New York as Milwaukee, but his work with Giannis Antetokounmpo and others has been impressive these past 14 months, turning them into a powerhouse.

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Fizdale was on the short end of the stick with the New York Knicks, who remain in a fluctuating situation. Their status for not just this season, but the 2020-21 campaign, is up in the air, and no solution is on the horizon.