Derek Fisher Will Make an Immediate Impact With the New York Knicks

By Matt Constas
Getty Images
Getty Images

After an 18 year career in which you set the record for NBA playoff appearances all-time and win five titles with the storied Los Angeles Lakers, calling it quits wouldn’t be so hard to do.

Unless you are Derek Fisher.

I guess in a way Fisher did call it quits, even though he accepted the head coaching job with the New York Knicks before any formal retirement announcement. Fisher closed one chapter of his life and is now starting a new one. His new role will bring some differences. He is now based on the east coast, he is a part of an organization that has not won a title since 1973 and he will be strolling the sidelines donning a suit and tie, not a jersey.

While making this transition, it will obviously take some time for him to get comfortable with his new role. We saw that struggles of Jason Kidd at the beginning of his first year with the Brooklyn Nets. He turned things around and made the playoffs, but is now the head coach of his second team in as many years on the sideline. Moving into a new role is not easy, but if anybody can do it, it is Fisher, who will look to make an immediate impact for the Knicks next season.

Fisher will have a couple of factors on his side to help ease him into the head coaching role that Kidd was not given. While Kidd has one NBA title as a player, Fisher has five. He has been a part of a dynasty and knows what it takes to build a team capable of long-term success. And while he is trying to do this in New York, he will receive a lot of help from Knicks president and former Laker head coach Phil Jackson.

Jackson, who has 11 titles of his own and a coach and two as a player, was the coach of all the championship teams Fisher was on. It can never hurt to have one of the greatest coaches of all time as your mentor and a part of the same organization. Jackson can teach Fisher how to install the triangle offense and other schemes and as Fisher learns, so will the players, resulting in improvement on all ends of the basketball spectrum.

The Knicks are far from title ready. Fisher acknowledged that. Jackson acknowledged that. Even Carmelo Anthony acknowledged it when he decided to return to the team. This is not necessarily a bad thing. As they say, Rome was not built in one day. Similarly, the Knicks won’t be built in one season. Fisher and company will have time to improve but also contend for the playoffs in a weaker Eastern Conference. They have time to install the new regime, make improvements and show the league that they mean business. A year in the positive direction, with a first-round pick and a good chunk of cap space looming in the summer of 2015, Fisher can get the current players to buy into the system in order to help outsiders see the potential this team has for the future.

Not only is  the future bright for the Knicks, but there are also some weapons on the current roster Fisher should be excited to have. Obviously, Anthony is the star of the team, but he also has an experienced sharp-shooting point guard in José Calderón to help run the offense, make his teammates better and build a better team chemistry on the court. He will also have the chance to mentor the speedy Shane Larkin, who has a lot of potential on both sides of the ball. Fisher, a point guard by trade, can teach Larkin how to be a solid defender and distributor on offense in a more team-oriented system, while teaching how to get his own as well. Tim Hardaway Jr., a first team All-Rookie member last season, also has a lot of athleticism and upside and is built with a similar frame as Fisher’s longtime teammate Kobe Bryant.

The New York Knicks are a couple of years removed from being a serious title contender, but they are taking steps in the right direction. Derek Fisher is an experienced basketball mind that has a history of getting along with all of his teammates. Look for the Knicks to show improvements right out the gate with Fisher as their leader. As another veteran on the bench, Fisher can help bring big results to the Big Apple.

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