David Fizdale didn’t win many games this season with his coaching, but his biggest victory could come in July if he hits it out of the park in his recruiting spiel to marquee free agents.
“All hands on deck — it’s a big summer for us,’’ the Knicks coach said Friday when asked, during an appearance on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN radio, about his free-agent role.
“At the end of the day, [president] Steve [Mills] and [GM] Scott [Perry] are running this deal and my job is to assist them in any way I can. The best way I can help is have a vision from a coach’s perspective to each guy I talk to on how I plan on using you, this is how you fit into the scheme and how the guys around you will fit, and give them a security who they are going to play for.”
Though Fizdale didn’t prove to be a standout game coach during the 17-65 disgrace that tied the franchise’s record for futility, his ability to sell positivity across the journey deserved an Oscar. After it ended Wednesday night in another blowout loss to Detroit, Fizdale was asked what he has to sell free agents.
“It’s the Knicks,’’ Fizdale responded. “Same way they got me. It’s the Knicks, man. I really feel like around the league — and I really listen to people when they talk about us — I think people are really excited about the way we’re going about building this.’’
On the Kay show, Fizdale expanded the thought, adding, “Everyone from top to bottom that I have I spoken to has praised the job we’ve been doing. They’re not looking at, ‘Oh, you guys didn’t win this year.’ People in the NBA know when you’re doing it right. We got extreme praise how hard the kids played, the way we treat people and players in the organization. That was holding the team back more than anything. People are going to want to be here now that they know we’re doing things the right way.”
One of the NBA’s young stars, Kristaps Porzingis, didn’t think so. Fizdale confirmed the 7-foot-3 Latvian wanted out, but declined to reveal why. The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs in six years — nor have they won a championship in 46 years.
“I was surprised — I was,’’ Fizdale said on Porzingis’ alleged trade request. “I really felt everything was going smoothly. He and I communicated a lot. He was very engaged in our process and film sessions and practices — which was tough for him [being injured]. I was really surprised at it. That’s the NBA. Your plans aren’t going to go exactly how you want him. But I marveled Steve and Scott kept the ship moving and came out of it with a great deal.’’
The blockbuster trade opened two maximum salary slots that reignited predictions Kevin Durant will team up with Kyrie Irving, a Jersey guy. Durant doesn’t seem to have ever felt accepted in Golden State and he can turn into a New York savior, even just by taking the challenge LeBron James passed on.
But first, the Knicks have the May 14 draft lottery in Chicago to embrace. The Knicks, along with the Suns and Cavaliers, each have a 14 percent chance of winning the top pick and Duke’s Zion Williamson. Patrick Ewing will set on the dais for the Knicks, but that won’t keep Fizdale from trying to muster as much good karma as possible.
“I got some rituals I’ll be pulling off to get that pick,’’ Fizdale said. “That would be a really good thing, but I think we’ll get a really good talent out of the draft that’s another piece to the puzzle. You got hope. [But] whoever we get, we’ll get a new talent that’s going to add to the pot. I don’t want to get to a place and fall in love with one guy and get disappointed.”
When asked his final message, Fizdale, who was not made available to the media on Thursday, said, “Get ready, Knicks fans, we’re getting better. It’ll be a whole better season next year.”
Published at Sat, 13 Apr 2019 09:25:27 +0000