On This Date: Knicks hire Derek Fisher

June 10th 2014: The New York Knicks hire Derek Fisher as their next head coach

The Knicks officially announced the hiring of Derek Fisher as the next head coach. Fisher received a 5 year $25 million contract to become the head coach of a Knick team that missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-10 season. This move was Phil Jackson’s first paramount move as President of Basketball Operations after firing Mike Woodson.

Phil anticipated Fisher to be the coach that could successfully implement the triangle offense to a Knick squad that often lacked offensive structure for much of the 2013-14 season. He anticipated the triangle offense to be of much success to this roster. At the same time, Derek Fisher wasn’t Phil’s first choice as head coach. Phil initially interviewed Steve Kerr for the head coaching position and almost came to terms on an agreement. However, Kerr had second thoughts and chose to stay close to home coach the Golden State Warriors. The rest is history.

Fisher, then 40, was a bold selection for head coach. He represented the youngest external head coaching hire in the organization since Willis Reed in 1977 (then 35 years old). Between then and 2014, Bob Hill (then 38 years old), Stu Jackson (34 years old), and Jeff Van Gundy (33 years old) were younger than Fisher, but had previously served as assistant coaches with the Knicks before their ascension. Fisher just finished a 2013-14 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder and played in the Western Conference Finals against the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs. Just like Phil’s old teammate Willis Reed, Fisher entered the job without any head coaching experience.

To aid Fisher’s development, Jackson surrounded Fisher with several assistant coaches from his Lakers tenure including associate head coach Kurt Rambis, Jim Cleamons, & Rasheed Hazzard. Fisher, in return, recruited several coaches from the Oklahoma City Thunder staff including Brian Keefe, Josh Longstaff, and later David Bliss.

Unfortunately, Fisher never seemed to feel comfortable coaching in the NBA. He lacked the moxie that was there in some of his fellow head coaching peers (you can see some of the moxie in Fizdale). He additionally never fully felt comfortable in New York. After a highly publicized off-court incident before the 2015-16 season and difficulty implementing any offensive system, Phil fired Fisher midway towards the 2015-16 season. Fisher had more than 3 seasons remaining on his contract.

On This Date: Knicks fire Derek Fisher

February 8th 2016: The New York Knicks fire Derek Fisher

After compiling a 40-96 record as head coach, the Knicks fired Derek Fisher on this date in 2016. Fisher was only in the middle of his second season in a 5-year contract. Despite having a limited roster for much of the 2014-15 season, Fisher rebounded to help the Knicks reach a 22-22 record to start the 2015-16 season. However, things seemed to unravel quickly afterwards losing 9 of the next 10 games.

The trio of Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Lance Thomas (yes, Lance Thomas) helped the Knicks stay at .500 until January. However, Melo’s ankle injury against the Celtics in the middle of January sidelined him for the next several games. Lance Thomas, who provided solid defense and three-point shooting, was sidelined for three games during that losing stretch.

However, it was a combination of various on-court and off-court issues that plagued Fisher’s 2015-16 season, and Knicks tenure as a whole. Fisher started the season on a rough note with the Matt Barnes controversy. Additionally, his offensive and defensive schemes left a lot to be desired. Fisher seemed committed to running the triangle offense upon being hired, but would never fully implement, coach, and execute its various intricacies. Additionally, he even began to waver from running the offense and integrated a pseudo system that had no identity or rhythm. Defensively, the Knicks continued to get torched on the pick-and-roll. The team often employed their big men to drop back to the rim allowing open layup lines.

The icing on the cake were two peculiar comments made off the court. Fisher mentioned on the Michael Kay show that he wouldn’t be disappointed if the team didn’t make the playoffs. This statement was surprising because the Knicks had a veteran-laden team and no draft picks in 2016. Additionally, he took a minor shot at impending free agent Rajon Rondo when the latter mentioned his displeasure about playing in the triangle offense.

Ultimately, Fisher’s inexperience might not have been the best match for coaching in New York; he entered the coaching ranks fresh out of retirement.