Why the Fizdale Criticism Is Premature


Most people on the outside were not optimistic and are not surprised by the Knicks’ rough start to the 2019-20 season.  They realized building around rookie RJ Barrett and second-year players Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox would take time.  Unfortunately for coach David Fizdale, it seems only his bosses thought otherwise.  After ten games, the Knicks have only won twice, with 20-point plus losses to Cavaliers, Celtics and Kings at home and the Pistons on the road.  Following the loss, the Cavaliers team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry addressed the media in surprising fashion.


Fizdale seems to be on borrowed time in New York already, but is it warranted?  His time has not been overly positive, but is it his fault, or is he just the one to fall?

The Defense

The most basic defense for coach Fizdale is common sense.  This process takes time, and the roster is far from perfect.  Barrett has been good so far but is only one rookie.  Dennis Smith has missed significant time due to a personal loss. Robinson has missed games with a concussion.  The roster does not have enough talent to win many games, and the only person who seems to have not acknowledged the win projections was owner James Dolan.  All signs point to him misleading the press conference, and Mills and Perry, if nothing else, have been consummate professionals along the way.

The unfortunate truth is that Fizdale signed with this team and declined other options because he wanted to coach Porzingis.  That never happened, but management claimed that he would be getting superstars and the number one pick to coach.  Instead, he got the number three and Julius Randle along with many other power forwards.  It is hard to imagine any coach succeeding when a general manager puts together a roster the two have to apologize for on free agency day one.

The Negatives

20-75. That is David Fizdale’s record with the team.  If I am going to get negative, it is harder to be much more bitter than that.  No matter what the talent level that is just not winning enough.  He has shown a hesitance to keep consistent lineups.  This reluctance will only make it more difficult for the younger players to adapt and learn.

Fizdale has also shown before a lack of ability to take criticism.  Whether it is the “take that for data” rant in Memphis or pushing back on Barrett’s top five NBA minutes mark, Fizdale can be quite combative with the media.  But even in these issues, it is tough to say that Fizdale is to blame.

The Verdict

There are plenty of issues with these Knicks.  Someone needs to be held accountable, but Fizdale is not the one to blame.  Dolan hasn’t touched the front office since the Phil Jackson era.  If anyone needs to go for the lack of success, it should be the people that built this roster.  Fizdale deserves to coach the kind of players he signed up to coach.  That may not happen in New York, but he should be given at least another year to try.

About Corey Rausch

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