CHICAGO — Knicks coach David Fizdale is content with his young coaching staff and has no plans of hiring a veteran assistant to focus on improving the team’s defense, ranked 28th in the NBA.
Last week, Fizdale said the focus of the offseason would be bringing in more defensive-minded players. Fizdale passed on hiring veteran and former Knicks head coach Mike Woodson, one of his mentors when they were together with the Hawks, to help him on the bench.
Instead Fizdale went with Keith Smart, his former assistant coach with the Grizzlies, as the lead assistant and brought on a host of developmental coaches. They included Jud Buechler, Royal Ivey, Caleb Canales and Pat Sullivan. Fizdale also retained Howard Eisley from Jeff Hornacek’s staff.
The Knicks, 17-64 after Tuesday night’s 96-86 win over the Bulls , will finish with the NBA’s worst record for the first time since 1985.
Even with the prospect of signing marquee veterans such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Fizdale prefers to stand pat with his assistants. Ivey happens to be one of Durant’s close friends because of their University of Texas and Thunder connections. At 37, Ivey is the Knicks’ youngest assistant and goes one-on-one with players in practice and connects well with them.
“No, I like these guys,’’ Fizdale said. “These guys are good. They know their stuff. They know their craft. We got some really knowledgeable guys. Guys who have played in wars and coached in some. We still have a lot of teaching to do. … These guys are really good teachers. We’re going to add [veteran players] obviously next year, but we’ll still have a pretty big core group of young guys who are going to need a lot of attention. We like how we look right now. I like our stuff.”
Fizdale credits the assistants, specifically Canales, for keeping the morale up this season, and said they watch a ton of film with the players individually. Sullivan, in particular, has aided Mitchell Robinson’s growth in the nuances of being an NBA big man.
Published at Wed, 10 Apr 2019 08:09:23 +0000