Just a couple of weeks ago, Derek Fisher was a veteran point guard playing key minutes off of the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder as they tried to make it to the 2014 NBA Finals. On Monday evening as the dust is still somewhat settling from the Western Conference Finals, Fisher is now the new head coach of the New York Knicks.
Reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Knicks and Fisher have agreed to a five-year $25 million contract that will make Fisher the replacement for Mike Woodson as the head coach in New York. The Knicks and new president of basketball operations Phil Jackson have been rumored to be after Fisher for a while now after the team was unable to land Steve Kerr.
As most know, Fisher and Jackson have a history together from their days with the Los Angeles Lakers. The two developed a championship pedigree with one another, which is obviously what they are hoping to bring to the Knicks. However, that seems to be a relatively far-fetched thought at this point.
After the end of the regular season, Amar’e Stoudemire was quoted as saying that the Knicks are the best team in the league “on paper.” While they have a ton of talent, especially if they can re-sign Carmelo Anthony this summer, there’s a lot more that goes into a team than just the talent that’s on the roster.
This is an organization with a distinct lack of youth and direction. While you can blame missing the 2014 NBA Playoffs on Woodson to a certain degree, that’s not all that’s in-play here. This is a team that played over their heads in the 2012-13 season and then fell back to earth this season. The truth for this team probably lies somewhere in between the outcomes of the past two seasons, but that truth doesn’t spell great fortune for the franchise.
The Knicks enter this offseason with little cap-room, no draft picks, and only two rotation players (Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr.) under the age of 25. Though older teams have proven that they can be successful in the NBA, they aren’t exactly a good look for team in the situation that the Knicks are in, especially in terms of their future.
The gist of the situation regarding Fisher is that he is walking into a strange situation. Much like Jason Kidd and the Brooklyn Nets last year, he’s coming into this gig with no coaching experience and having only played point guard. It took Kidd a bit to get into a coaching rhythm, but he proved to be a good coach by season’s end with the way he turned his team around.
In spite of the situation and uncertainty with the Knicks, with Fisher, with Jackson, and with the future, Fisher could very well be a good place to start. He can offer a good pitch to Carmelo in free agency and knows the intricacies of this league and the offense that Jackson wants to run. Not all is lost already for Fisher coming into this job, but he undoubtedly has a bit of bumpy road directly ahead of him. With no disrespect to Stoudemire, talent on paper doesn’t always mean wins; sometimes, it just results in delusions.