Derek Fisher says he’s not a Phil Jackson puppet

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Once Phil Jackson was installed as president of basketball operations for the Knicks, his first (real) order of business was to put a coaching staff in place that would be capable of running the team based on his own principles.

Jackson won 11 championships as a head coach, but health concerns prevent him from continuing in that role at his advanced age. So, he did the next best thing, and hired people who he knew would be loyal after being a part of his past success.

That’s how Derek Fisher, a veteran point guard who played under Jackson with the Lakers and was a member of the Thunder as recently as last season, ended up being hired as New York’s head coach. The rest of the coaching staff is full of tenured assistants like Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons, both of whom taught aspects of the Triangle Offense while working alongside Jackson in Los Angeles.

Jackson’s fingerprints will be all over how the Knicks are coached this season, but Fisher knows that for him to truly find success, he has to emerge as the one calling the shots, at least to a certain extent.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Knicks rookie coach Derek Fisher said he is not a Phil Jackson clone or puppet and has learned plenty from other marquee coaches. …

“I’m not Phil Jackson, that’s for sure,” Fisher said Friday in Tarrytown. “I am not going to try to be or even pretend to be. I’ve for sure taken a lot of the basketball experiences and knowledge and life experiences and knowledge from working for Phil for so many years. So there will for sure be some things I will try and channel.”

“At the same time, I’ve learned a lot from other coaches, other men, other people that inspire me, other great leaders, other great athletes, great people that I’ll also channel.” …

“There will be some boundaries that we have to have within our relationship,” Fisher said. “But at the end of the day Phil is running this department.”

And that’s it exactly.

Make no mistake, Jackson will be coaching by proxy from the front office, especially in the early days as Fisher is finding his way. But ultimately, Fisher will have to split from Jackson, especially from the players vantage point, in order to command the team’s respect.

How a single computer folder and dogged HR official exposed former Kings executive’s $13.4M embezzlement scheme

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Just how close did Jeff David come to getting away with embezzling $13.4 million from the Kings while working for them? He already secured a new job with the Heat and was in the process of moving from Sacramento to Miami.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

On this Monday, walking through the Davids’ new front door is a dizzying procession of cable guys, utility workers and movers. Amid all of this, Jeff receives a phone call from a former co-worker with the Kings. Her name is Stacy Wegzyn, and she works in HR. Jeff last remembers sitting in her office in Sacramento just months earlier, being told that the Kings were going to eliminate his position. After a few pleasantries, she gets down to business. She tells Jeff she’s been going through his old files, and in doing so she found one labeled “TurboTax” that references an entity called Sacramento Sports Partners.

“I was just curious what that is and if those are documents that should go to somebody else,” Wegzyn says.

It’s a seemingly innocuous inquiry from an HR lifer. But it’s one that will dictate the rest of Jeff David’s life. If he knows that — or senses it — he doesn’t let on.

“No, no, no,” Jeff responds. “That was a … man, this is taking me back. Maybe 2015?”

Wegzyn presses on. She asks Jeff whether the documents contain anything that anyone with the Kings needs to see. Jeff assures her they can trash them because the entity isn’t around anymore. A few minutes after he hangs up, his mother-in-law, Nancy, is standing at the front door when an FBI investigator appears, asking to speak to Jeff.

If you like the NBA or true crime – let alone both – I HIGHLY recommend reading Arnovitz’s full piece. It’s riveting!

Warriors Kevon Looney cleared for on-court basketball work, will return soon

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At least someone on the Warriors is getting healthy.

Big man Kevon Looney, who played opening night and has since been sidelined with a sore hamstring and neuropathy (what the team described as “nerve-related symptoms”), has been cleared to return to on-court basketball activities, the team announced Tuesday. From the official press release:

He will participate in select practice sessions with the Santa Cruz Warriors this week and will re-join the Golden State Warriors over the weekend. We will continue to monitor his progress and will provide another update on his status on Sunday.

Looney has already been officially assigned to Santa Cruz.

This is good news for the Warriors, who have been starting Willie Cauley-Stein but desperately need more shot blocking and depth up front.

Anyone getting healthy is good news for a Warriors team that is 2-12 and has the worst net rating in the NBA (-10.4).

Carmelo Anthony to start first game for Portland, apparently thinks he’s wearing number infinity

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Carmelo Anthony will wear No. 00 with the Trail Blazers.

Why?

Apparently because 00 kind of looks like ∞.

Anthony:

Somewhere, Kyrie Irving is nodding in support.

In terms of numbers that make sense…

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

That’s a sizable role for a 35-year-old in his first game in more than a year. But Portland needs scoring with Damian Lillard sidelined, and – at last check (though, again, a while ago), Anthony was accustomed to big minutes.

Besides, we all want ample opportunity to see Anthony back on the court after his lengthy absence.

David Fizdale: Knicks owner Jim Dolan gives me ‘vote of confidence’ at every game

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Knicks coach David Fizdale is on thin ice.

New York is 4-10. Knicks president Steve Mills is reportedly laying the groundwork to fire Fizdale. Mills and general manager Scott Perry addressed the media after a recent game and sounded as if they were at least partially blaming Fizdale.

But does Fizdale have a key supporter at the very top of the organization?

Fizdale, via Ian Begley of SNY:

“Every game, every game. Jim Dolan comes in and gives me a vote of confidence, a pat on my back and really has just been incredibly encouraging over the last year and a half or whatever it’s been,” Fizdale said. “All we talk about is just sticking to the process of making these guys better and building for a future of sustainable winning.”

A common synonym for “vote of confidence:” “dreaded vote of confidence.” Just how bad are near-nightly votes of confidence?

This will convince nobody that Fizdale’s job is safe. Someone will likely take the fall if the Knicks’ struggles continue. It might be Fizdale. It might be Mills. But Mills – who preceded and succeeded Phil Jackson in running the front office – knows his way around Madison Square Garden. And even if Mills gets demoted or fired, a new lead executive would likely want his own coach.