Phil Jackson, the 11-time champion coach who now presides over the franchise, chose Fisher to walk the Knicks’ sidelines because of their history together and because of Fisher’s ability to convey his leadership and ideas, not because he is an accomplished playmaker. That said, Fisher has three main tasks for the 2014-15 season: Earn the respect of his roster, learn the ropes of being a head coach in the process and have a successful playoff run on his first year. Knicks fans won’t accept anything less from the team next season.
As a coach, you want talent and willingness to learn from your young guns. This is something Fisher has already been blessed with, with names like Tim Hardaway Jr., Shane Larkin, Cleanthony Early, Jeremy Tyler and Cole Aldrich on the roster. The new coach said in an interview that these guys are all excited about being part of the team and have shown great character and humility when practicing and learning the new triangle system for the 2014 NBA Summer League.
But young talent is not everything, and that’s where Carmelo Anthony comes in.
Besides having a talented foundation and roster depth, having a big centerpiece for your team is essential if you want to have a successful season and Anthony is the guy for the job. The triangle offense was so efficient in the 1990s and early 2000s because it got everybody on the floor involved on every possession, but at the end of the day Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had to be there for everything to sort itself out. These cornerstones were the ones on which the responsibility would fall in case things didn’t go as planned. Having talented veterans who take upon themselves the role of creating their own shots and getting the ball for the last shot of the game is an essential part of a winning team.
Anthony has played his whole life as an isolation player, having to decide by himself the course of a game, and having him on the roster to complement the flow and efficiency of the triangle will be the difference maker for Fisher’s first season as a head coach. If rumors are proven right and Melo returns to the Knicks, the person who will benefit the most from that is not Jackson or the fans, but rookie head coach Fisher who will have his work cut out for him.