Just how thin the ice is under David Fizdale’s feet at Madison Square Garden has been a topic of conjecture around the league. Nobody thinks he’s safe — when the owner forces the president and GM to do a press conference 10 games into the season you know things are bad — but considering Fizdale is getting paid for this season and the next one, a mid-season coaching change would only happen if things looked dire.
Is a seven-game losing streak capped by 44-point blowout loss to the Bucks dire enough?
Try to predict the moves of James Dolan and company at your own risk, but at least some in the organization think things may bubble over sooner rather than later. From Ian Begley of SNY.TV:
We don’t have a definitive answer, but one member of the organization said late last month that he expected management to fire Fizdale soon, per SNY sources. The person who expressed the thought isn’t someone who would make the decision to fire Fizdale. But the idea that a member of the Knicks believes a coaching change is coming says a lot about the level of uncertainty in New York right now.
“Soon” is an incredibly vague term, so take this report with a grain of salt. Or 10.
One of the challenges with firing Fizdale mid-season is the organization reportedly was not high on the idea of promoting one of his assistants — Jud Buechler, Keith Smart, or Kaleb Canales — to the big chair. Frank Isola of The Athletic throws a couple more names into the mix of potential replacements.
According to a league source, if the Knicks make an in-season coaching move, one of two assistants – Mike Miller or Pat Sullivan – would likely be promoted.Miller coached the Knicks G League affiliate. Coincidentally, assistant coaches Keith Smart and Kaleb Canales each have head coaching experience.
There are a couple of good reasons to make an in-season coaching change. One is that the team knows it’s going to fire the coach and the person it wants as long-term in the big chair is available right now. Looking at the list of potential interim coaches for New York, that does not apply here.
The other reason to make a mid-season move is that the situation in the locker room and around the team is so bad, so toxic, that it could poison the team into future seasons. The Knicks are certainly losing, and their effort on a nightly basis is unimpressive, but is it really poisonous?
This still feels like Knicks management — president Steve Mill and GM Scott Perry in particular — oversold the Knicks offseason and unrealistically hyped expectations this season. They hyped it to Dolan, who was on board, and the front office itself seemed to buy into the idea this very flawed roster could make the playoffs. When they stunk out of the gate, there has been a letdown. There are now rumors about a management change coming next summer, too, not just a coaching change.
But again, predict what Dolan will do next at your own peril.