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

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Robert Wolkenbrod

I was excited about David Fizdale’s arrival. Sure, he struck out in Memphis, but he carried the Miami pedigree with him, and the players spoke so highly of their former assistant coach. What could go wrong?

I wrote off most of Fizdale’s first year when the season was punted just five games in. The team was bottoming out for a high pick and player development, so it was difficult to put that all on him. However, resulting in just 17 wins was still embarrassing and good for the worst in the NBA.

The questionable usage of players highlights my view of Fizdale. From bouncing Frank Ntilikina between the bench and the rotation, to bumping the veterans up this season in spite of Allonzo Trier and Kevin Knox, it was head-scratching. Mitchell Robinson took a step back from starting, too, but that went more on being foul prone.

The offensive sets for everyone were uninspiring. Fizdale preached ball movement from the beginning, but it was difficult to find that anywhere in 104 games. Instead, both iterations of the teams he coached were heavy on isolation. Few instances saw that change.

Perhaps that was the players’ fault for not buying in, but the New York Knicks were consistently below-average at moving the ball to make their offense even halfway interesting.

For a league that has taken a drastic offensive turn, watching Fizdale’s Knicks trying to score was uninspiring. It wasn’t all on him, of course.

The front office gave Fizdale little to work with. I didn’t hate their 2019 free agency, because all of the players signed were fine. Together, though, they did not make sense, as the emphasis went on the frontcourt when the Knicks needed quick guards to push the pace. An injured Reggie Bullock and a stationary Wayne Ellington won’t help.

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It was on both sides to make this work. The front office, which remains in place, failed. Fizdale did not get the most out of this group, and he’s gone. It was inevitable no matter how often “patience” was preached 12 months ago.