New York Knicks: How will David Fizdale’s time as coach be remembered?

new york knicks (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
new york knicks (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Nolan Eritano

Looking back at David Fizdale’s tenure as the coach of the Knicks, the first phrase that comes to mind is “a swing and a miss.”

Make no mistake about it, Fizdale was primarily hired as an attempt to bring in marquee free agents. Of course none of them did, as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving choose the Nets over the Knicks, but that wasn’t what sealed his fate as head coach, although to call Fizdale a “scapegoat” to save the jobs of Steve Mills and Scott Perry doesn’t add up, either.

It reflects just as poorly on the front office because they hired him, and as a result, all signs point to them being out at season’s end. However, there was still plenty of merit in firing Fizdale based on his coaching, development, and results overall.

Fizdale was never known for being a great X’s and O’s coach.  His primary calling cards were always his defensive pedigree from his roots in Miami, the ability to communicate with the press and today’s players, and taking a modern approach to the modern NBA in an era of “positionless basketball.”

For all of the praise the Knicks received in hiring Fizdale, none of that optimism ever materialized.  Fizdale essentially ran no offensive system, the Knicks whiffed in free agency, and it’s honestly difficult to pinpoint anything that he truly did well. He was inconsistent with doling out minutes while promising to hold players accountable defensively, for example, starting Alonzo Trier as a point guard before being forced to start Frank Ntilikina.

Fizdale played soon-to-be free agents like Emanuel Mudiay over developing young guards last year among other vets that saw critical minutes over the future core of his teams. He stubbornly failed to adapt to the players’ strengths on the roster and get the most out of their talents. No matter how ill-fit this roster may or may not have been constructed, there is without a doubt more talent on this team than last year, yet have not seen any tangible progress or results.

Fizdale’s tenure as the Knicks head coach will be remembered as an era where Knicks fans, behind Fizdale’s signature glasses and smoothing talking, for a moment, could reach peak levels of optimism only to be immediately smacked back down to reality.