The long and rather torturous process is at an end: Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks have finally found their next head coach in Derek Fisher. After weeks of speculation and an unceremonious rejection from Steve Kerr, Jackson has elected for Fisher to be his triangle puppet in this Knicks experiment.
The conclusion of the coaching search brings to mind a question that doesn’t seem to be getting asked enough right about now. Is the general sports public aware of how terrible the Knicks project to be for the foreseeable future? The team doesn’t currently even have a pick in the 2014 draft, and the dreadful Andrea Bargnani trade essentially sacrificed the 2016 draft as well.
If Carmelo Anthony decides to leave — which seems more likely than not at this point — the Knicks are left with a nearly talent-bare roster for Fisher to work with, and it projects to remain that way for quite a while. It is bizarre to throw a player-turned-coach into this scenario, not only because yearly failure appears to be a guarantee but also because the roster doesn’t really have the makeup to suit a coach with zero experience.
The Jason Kidd scenario with the Brooklyn Nets was one thing. The Nets had plenty of talent, and Kidd had the luxury of relying on veterans like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. With all due respect to Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, they are a far cry from those two as leadership presences. Kidd had a great deal of help in Brooklyn’s locker room. Fisher will not have the same with the Knicks.
The prevailing wisdom behind this decision is that Jackson wanted to hire a coach who he could trust to implement his famed triangle offense. On this criteria alone, Fisher is a fine choice; few people in the NBA world grasp the system as thoroughly as he does. Still, there are questions. Jackson’s triangle worked wonders during his championship years, but he also had Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to work with or alternatively Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
With New York’s dearth of talent and bleak-looking future, it seems like Fisher is all but destined to fail.