After swinging-and-missing on high profile candidates Steve Kerr and Mark Jackson, it appears the Knicks have finally chosen their next head coach: Former Oklahoma City PG and triangle-offense standout Derek Fisher.
According to various media outlets, Fisher formally accepted the Knicks offer to fill their head coaching vacancy this afternoon. While the terms of the contract have yet to be released, most believe the deal to be in the range of 5 years and $25 million.
Fisher, a Phil Jackson disciple, adds to a league-wide trend in favor of hiring former players, joining the likes of Steve Kerr, Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson, among others. This past season, he served as a third-string point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who fell to the San Antonio Spurs in a hotly contested Western Conference Finals.
In 17 years in the NBA, Fisher averaged 8.3 PPG, along with 3.0 APG and 2.1 RPG. His strongest years came under Phil Jackson in LA. His bench is expected to include other triangle-offense pupils Rick Fox, Kurt Rambis and Luke Walton, as well as Bill Cartwright. Fisher becomes the 25th head coach in Knicks history.
Before Knicks fans get worked up over the relatively low-profile hiring, there are a few things to keep in mind here:
1) Steve Kerr is just as unproven as Derek Fisher. Just because he was the hotter candidate does not mean he was the better candidate.
2) The Knicks head-coaching job was not as sought after as some fans might have thought. The cap situation is a mess, Carmelo could be on his way out, and the team doesn’t have a 1st round pick in one of the deeper drafts in recent memory. All of that coupled with the pressure of coaching in New York made for a mediocre situation.
3) The candidate pool was weak. After Kerr, Jackson and Stan Van Gundy were taken off the market, the Knicks were left with slim pickings. Calipari isn’t going anywhere and neither is Tom Izzo. In my opinion, the Knicks wound up with the best candidate available (save perhaps Jeff Van Gundy, who is not only comfortable as an analyst, but already failed as the head coach of the Knicks once before), and the fans should be excited for this season.
I think Fisher, who is a well-liked veteran, and served as the president of the NBA Player’s Union from 2006-2013, is a great fit for the Knicks. If Phil Jackson can groom Fisher into a top head coach and put a solid roster around him (starting with re-signing Carmelo Anthony), this team could soon resemble some of the Los Angeles and Chicago teams that Jackson brought to unmatched heights.
The sky is the limit here.