The New York Knicks have hired Dave Fizdale as their next head coach on a four-year contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He was selected over former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, who were also reportedly under high consideration. This is Fizdale’s second NBA head coaching position.
Fizdale last served as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies this past season, but was shockingly fired 19 games into his second season for reasons that appeared to center around Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies were off to a brutal start to the season, going 7-12, but things really started to boil when Fizdale benched Gasol for the fourth quarter of a close game.
According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, the two had been on bad terms before then, and a choice between the two was inevitable. Ultimately, the organization sided with its star.
How’d Fizdale do as Grizzlies head coach otherwise?
In the season prior, Fizdale worked his first year as an NBA coach, guiding Memphis to a 43-39 record. His team put up an unexpected fight as the No. 7 seed against the No. 2 San Antonio Spurs, losing 4-2. In the second game of that series, Fizdale earned a name for himself in a national sense, and gained fandom after his “TAKE THAT FOR DATA,” rant.
Upset with the officiating and a lack of foul calls, he yelled those famous words before slapping the table and leaving a postgame conference.
He didn’t get along with Gasol? Do other players feel negatively about him?
Not at all. Immediately after his firing both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, who both played under Fizdale when he was an assistant coach for the Miami Heat, tweeted in support of him.
I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 27, 2017
James went on to speak to the media about it:
LeBron speaks out about David Fizdale getting fired: "Maybe that's what it was, because he ain't gonna kiss nobody's ass I know that."pic.twitter.com/xujBeB18yl— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeagueTSL) November 28, 2017
“[Fizdale’s firing] probably took everybody in the basketball world by surprise besides who pulled the trigger,” James said. “I don’t know the details of it because I’m not around [the Grizzlies]. But I know the type of coach Fiz is, I know how players relate to him, and I know what he stands for. And he don’t stand for no ... Maybe that’s what it was because he ain’t gonna kiss nobody’s ass, I know that. Maybe that’s what it was.”
What other experience does he have?
The 43-year-old served as an assistant coach in college basketball for six seasons, four for San Diego and two for Fresno State before joining the NBA. Since 2003, Fizdale has worked as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, and Heat until his head coaching position in Memphis.
What should his expectations be in New York?
Low. Fizdale is inheriting a flawed roster which will be without its best player for part of the season as Kristaps Porzingis heals from a torn ACL. The team has $39 million invested in exiled center Joakim Noah, and is stacked with questionable role players.
Fizdale will be tasked to grow 2017 No. 8 pick Frank Ntilikina and whoever is selected with the Knicks’ first-round 2018 pick. This team isn’t playoff-bound just yet, but could be soon under Fizdale’s guidance.