David Fizdale is a smart man. He knows that if he is going to succeed as Knicks coach, it starts with winning over Kristaps Porzingis — he has flown to Europe to meet with the man, taking steps no other Knicks coach had to this point. This is the NBA, the star player has more power than the coach, and so the coach has to win said player over.
Fizdale has done that by saying he would push Porzingis. Bruce Beck of WNBC in New York caught up with Fizdale and asked him that relationship (hat tip elitesportsny.com).
“He likes the challenge of me saying ‘I want him to be the MVP’ and ‘I want him to be the Defensive Player of the Year.’ That’s real competitors they want that and I’m going right at it with him. I want him to look at himself that way.”
Fizdale is saying all the right things so far — to Porzingis, to Knicks fans, to everyone.
That’s a good start. This is going to be a tough season for the Knicks because Fizdale brings real energy, but without Porzingis — who is expected to miss most if not all of the coming season coming off a torn ACL — the Knicks are going to lose a lot of games. I like Tim Hardaway Jr., rookies Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson have potential, guys like Enes Kanter and Mario Hezonja are solid, but this is a franchise still building without Porzingis. Knicks fans (and ownership) are not the most patient people on the planet, but they are going to be asked to be. Again.
Fizdale is going to get through that and the Knicks will come out stronger on the other side, the new coach will lay down a good foundation this season. But it’s a process, especially until Porzingis gets all the way back and Fizdale can really push him.