No Knicks coaching hire has been met with widespread skepticism since Mike D’Antoni.
Mike Woodson received, perhaps reluctant but nonetheless existent, support after turning around a losing season and guiding the Knicks to the playoffs as D’Antoni’s interim replacement. Everyone was so enchanted with Phil Jackson running the front office, Derek Fisher was welcomed as Jackson’s hand-picked choice. In a shift in mood, people appreciated Jackson going outside his comfort zone with Jeff Hornacek – and that Hornacek wasn’t Kurt Rambis.
The trend has only continued with David Fizdale, whom the Knicks will reportedly hire.
This is not unique to New York. Nearly every coaching hire is viewed optimistically.
But the sentiment is particularly misplaced there.
The Knicks’ problems are far bigger than any coach can fix. They start with owner Jim Dolan and trickle down through the organization he assembled. Unless president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry build a far better roster – and sustain it without Dolan wrongly pushing for or blocking a trade – Fizdale has no chance. It doesn’t matter whether he’s a good coach or not.
Of the Knicks’ seven non-interim coaches since Jeff Van Gundy who also coached elsewhere, all but one (Mike Woodson) had a better record on other jobs:
These aren’t all bad coaches. The challenge in New York was just too much for them.
Mills and Perry deserve a chance to fix this roster. (At least Perry does. Mills, Jackson’s predecessor and successor, already had one. But there’s no choice now but to let him take his second try.) They have a great start in Kristaps Porzingis, though he’s injured. But it will take patience and skill to dig out of the rest of Jackson’s mess.
Coaches still have culpability in this, and Fizdale looks like a good choice. His energy could help give the Knicks the wakeup call they badly need.
But he can’t do it alone, and unless the Knicks get their act together from the top down, Fizdale won’t have a chance.