David Fizdale is trying to start his tenure as New York Knicks head coach on the right note.
Fizdale said during an ESPN broadcast that he and his wife are set to visit with Kristaps Porzingis in Latvia in two weeks.
David Fizdale says in an interview on the ESPN broadcast of Knicks-Lakers that he and his wife are scheduled to visit Kristaps Porzingis and his family in Latvia on July 23.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 11, 2018
Porzingis is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL and might not be ready for action until midway through next season. Despite that, the 22-year-old versatile big man is viewed as the cornerstone of the team. He has improved each season since being drafted in 2015 and averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season. The 7-foot-3 big man also drained an impressive 1.9 three-pointers per game.
The two reportedly had a “great conversation” after Fizdale was hired as the team’s new head coach, although Fiz was recently roasted for an odd suggestion he made.
One of the main reasons David Fizdale was fired as the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies last season was that he was not getting along with Marc Gasol, but the three-time NBA All-Star does not feel responsible for the way things ended.
In an interview with Robert Alvarez of the Spanish media outlet El Pais, Gasol opened up about the Grizzlies’ miserable 22-60 season. He also addressed reports that he pressured Memphis’ front office to fire Fizdale.
“My conflict is between my desire to win and my loyalty to Memphis. Memphis believes that I am part of the solution, not the problem,” Gasol said, as translated by Dionysis Aravantinos of EuroHoops.net. “It was part of a learning experience. When looking for a change, you need to find the cause. It occurred in a way that maybe was not the desired one. Thinking about it now, I would have acted differently, but I remain calm. In the end, a business of so many millions of dollars is not decided by one player. The relationship between a player and a coach was not the best in the world … you are right.”
Fizdale was fired just 19 games into the 2017-18 season, and there were indications that he had lost the locker room. Things seemed to come to a boil when Gasol was benched for the fourth quarter of a bad loss, which is something the 33-year-old alluded to.
“We came to losing eight games in a row. They fired him after a game in which I didn’t play in the last quarter,” Gasol said. “I ended with a sensation that I didn’t like and that I wanted to turn it over. Obviously, they focus on you. But it is a situation that you have to live and stay calm with. I wasn’t playing at a good level either. I was saying to myself, ‘Damn, I cant go through this.’ That was what worried me the most, above public opinion.”
One particularly alarming exchange between Fizdale and Gasol was when the big man reportedly told the coach he did not think the Grizzlies had enough to win a championship because they lacked leadership. Gasol indicated that is not how things unfolded.
“It was not like that. Far from it,” he said. “Respecting the conversations in the locker rooms is always critical. Understand how to keep quiet and let things happen. It is important to keep one’s principles firm and always to put them over everything. I will not go out and say what happened, for these exact reasons.”
Fizdale is said to have received a pretty impressive endorsement before the New York Knicks hired them to be their next head coach, so his tarnished relationship with Gasol didn’t end up being too costly. Gasol has spent his entire NBA career with Memphis, so you can understand why he is tired of losing. Time will tell if Fizdale was part of the problem.
New York Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis has spoken with his new coach about the direction of the team, and the big man apparently likes where things are heading.
On Thursday, Porzingis made his first public comments about the Knicks hiring David Fizdale, and he seems quite pleased.
Just had a great conversation on the phone with Coach Fiz. Man im excited!!!!! Lets gooo!!!
— Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) May 24, 2018
If you remember, Porzingis skipped his exit interview last season because he was unhappy with Phil Jackson. There were also rumblings that he was “disgusted” with his former head coach’s coaching style, so it’s a good sign for the Knicks that Porzingis approves of the Fizdale hiring.
Ironically, the health of Porzingis is probably more of a wild card heading into next year than how Fizdale will adapt to his new job. Porzingis suffered a torn ACL back in February, and the timeline for his recovery is not yet clear. One Knicks legend has already predicted that Porzingis will not play at all next season.
If the New York Knicks believe they have any shot at signing LeBron James this summer, it makes sense that they would want a head coach that James approves of. David Fizdale seemingly meets that standard, and it sounds like the Knicks made sure of it before they hired him.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry reached out to LeBron’s agent and lifelong friend Rich Paul before they hired Fizdale. Contacting LeBron about the hire would be an obvious tampering violation, but gauging Paul’s opinion on the move might as well have been the same thing.
Paul reportedly gave the Knicks “the lowdown on Fizdale’s methods.” The conversation may not have been strictly LeBron-influenced, however, as Paul also represents Michigan State’s Miles Bridges. The Knicks, who have the No. 9 overall pick, may consider drafting Bridges next month.
According to a previous report from Berman, the Knicks are prepared to open up the necessary salary cap space to make a run at LeBron this summer if James indicates any willingness to sign with them.
Fizdale was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat from 2008-2016, including all four seasons that LeBron was with the team. The two have seemingly maintained a close relationship, which was evident with the way James reacted after Fizdale was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies last year. The Knicks obviously didn’t hire Fizdale just to please LeBron, but it doesn’t hurt.
New York Knicks coach David Fizdale is ready to help Kristaps Porzingis become consistently one of the NBA’s best.
Porzingis has had his share of issues with the Knicks, but he anticipates being a fresh start for the talented big man.
“I’m a fresh start for [Porzingis],” Fizdale told MSG Network, via Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I really feel like I’m going to make a great connection with him and his family. We’re going to build something special around him that he feels great about.”
Fizdale is even ready to trek to Latvia to meet with the talented big man.
“The plane’s warming up right now,” Fizdale joked.
One potential worry for Fizdale? There’s some concern that he may not even be able to deploy his star next season. That would be an undeniable blow.
David Fizdale is getting a second chance to be a head coach in the NBA, and he’s lucky that his fractured relationship with Marc Gasol didn’t cost him another shot.
Fizdale was fired by Memphis just 19 games into this season, which was his second as the Grizzlies’ head coach. He was hired as the new head coach of the New York Knicks despite his failed tenure in Memphis. That tenure was doomed by issues with Gasol.
On Saturday, the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy published an article about what led to Fizdale’s ouster. As told by Bondy, Fizdale wanted to remake the Grizzlies and get rid of the team’s old “Grit ‘n Grind” style. They got rid of Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, which didn’t sit well with Gasol. Then, according to Bondy, the relationship between Fiz and Gasol became really bad after Fizdale confronted the team following a loss.
Fizdale asked each player whether they believed they could win a championship. Gasol said no because he felt they didn’t have the right leader.
“I get it, you want Gregg Popovich, and I want LeBron James,” Fizdale reportedly said back to Gasol.
The Grizzlies sided with Gasol in the feud and ditched Fizdale quickly. His issues with Gasol were a topic of conversation when he interviewed for the Knicks job.
The Knicks clearly are confident that Fizdale is a coach who will be able to turn the team around and help them adapt in a new era of basketball. Memphis meanwhile retained JB Bickerstaff as their head coach moving forward.
Now you have a sense of how uncomfortable things were in the Memphis locker room that led to Fizdale’s departure.
- Filed Under:
David Fizdale has reached an agreement to become the next head coach of the New York Knicks, and he apparently had more than one offer to get back into coaching.
Michael Scotto of The Athletic reports that the Phoenix Suns — like the Knicks — offered Fizdale a four-year contract to become their new coach. He turned it down in favor of New York.
David Fizdale passed on a 4-year offer from the Phoenix Suns before eventually accepting a 4-year offer from the New York Knicks to become head coach, league sources told The Athletic. https://t.co/lcWeTHjUpZ
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) May 3, 2018
The Suns fired Earl Watson just three games into the season, and they are not offering their full-time position to interim coach Jay Triano after a 21-62 season. Even with uncertainty surrounding the health of Kristaps Porzingis and when he will return from a torn ACL, you can see why the Knicks job would be more appealing to Fizdale.
Fizdale, 43, is a highly respected coach in the NBA, having spent several years as an assistant for the Miami Heat from 2008-2016 before leaving to become the Memphis Grizzlies’ head coach. Memphis went 43-39 under Fizdale last season, but he was fired after a slow start this year during which he was not getting along with one of his star players.