Anyone who’s watched this Knicks team knew Fisher had to go. I just never expected it to happen this soon. And let me tell you something… this is the best surprise ever.
HEY DEREK, GUH BAHHH
PHIL DID IT! HE REALLY DID IT! Oh what a day to be a Knicks fan baby. What a fucking day. Short of drafting the Latvian Larry Bird last June, this has to be the best decision this franchise has made in twenty-plus years, maybe even longer. It’s not so much the simple joy of not having Derek Fisher as the coach, but rather the implication behind it. But before we get to that, I guess we should start here…
If you’ve watched this team, you know this needed to happen. I’m not going to put all of the blame on Derek Fisher here. To be fair, it’s tough to win in a league dominated by point guard play and PNR when you don’t have a real point guard.
But I will put most of it on Fish…
The disjointed and inconsistent rotations. The confused, half-Triangle, half-bad-PNR offense that didn’t provide the players with any sense of consistency. The self-admitted lack of playcalling down the stretch. The extended stretches with Jose and Sasha playing together. The constant pressure put on KP and Lopez with those defensive doormats on the perimeter letting every PG get to the hole. The wishy-washy use of Jerian that did nothing to help his confidence. The absurd amount of leeway given to Afflalo to do his bad Kobe impression. The underutilization of the KP-Melo-DWill-Lance-Gallo matchup nighmare lineup. The underutlization of the Jerian-KP pick and roll that should’ve been an offensive staple. The underutilization of the Melo-KP pick and roll that should be the #1 option every time we have the ball. The underutilization of Kristaps on offense in general. And the refusal to instruct Jose to PASS KRISTAPS THE FUCKING BALL WHEN HE HAS A WIDE OPEN THREE AT THE TOP OF THE KEY ON THE PICK AND ROLL.
All of that is on Fish.
The problem is, that “no Point Guard” thing is an important factor. Is it important enough to stop me or anyone with eyes from seeing that Fish isn’t a good basketball coach right now? No. But it could have been important enough for Phil to give him some leeway. There is an easily-imaginable world where Phil could have stayed put, waited to sign a point guard this summer, and given Fish an opportunity to finally coach with a real roster.
But he didn’t. He had the recognition to pull the plug on something that clearly wasn’t going to work, and that’s a great sign for this team going forward.
Now this of course is all contingent on his next coach.
What this move tells me is that Phil is not attached to the Triangle anymore. If he was, he’s give his guy Fish more than three months to make it work. This move tells me he’s ready to move forward. With that said, he could easily turn around an re-up Kurt Rambis or bring in Brian “I can’t relate to millennials” Shaw this summer to slide right into that “Triangle Puppet” mold that Fish occupied here in NY.
But I doubt it.
This move is driven by change. Change not just in leadership, but in overall philosophy. This is driven by two coaches on the market in Thibideau and Walton that will come in and implement their own style. Styles much more suited not just for the modern game, but for the players on the roster.
Right now you have to consider Walton the favorite – at least in Phil’s mind. He’s young, he’s an overqualified assistant, he’s proven (while in a very small, very unique sample) that he can handle the pressures of coaching, he has a great basketball mind, and he comes from Phil’s “coaching tree” while also bringing a modern offensive style. But knowing the kind of guy Walton is, its hard to imagine him passing up that Lakers opening.
And you know what? I’m okay with that. Because one of the five best basketball coaches on the planet is a free agent who would walk over broken glass like John McClain down 7th Avenue to coach this team.
Thibs is the best coach on the market by a WIDE margin, has a great relationship with Melo, and would turn this team into a top-five defense in the league–centered around KP–with two years of taking the job. He’s the best coach you’ll find, and he wants to coach here. Absolute no-brainer.
But with Phil, you just don’t know.
For now, Rambis will play out the season. We’ll dive deeper into this when we get into April. Right now let’s all just be thankful that Phil had the foresight to dump Fish. We all knew he wasn’t the right guy, and the fact that Phil understood that this quickly should make us all optimistic about the franchise going forward.
Optimistic to a point, because this guy still calls the shots. But optimistic nonetheless.