Once again, the New York Knicks are in a state of rebuild. And once again, they've got a plan to turn it all around.
This time, though, their plan is more organic and appaers to be more dependable than "we'll sign the best free agents next summer!" This time, the organization isn't planning on skipping steps and is looking to build a young core through the draft.
"It's already happening," Fizdale told NBC's Bruce Beck of the Knicks' revival. "Kristaps will come back healthy. He was already having a big-time season last year when he got knocked down. We had an awesome draft with Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier - our two-way player."
The front office, under Scott Perry and Steve Mills, have made decisions with the future in mind. Without the cloud of Phil Jackson hanging over the team, Perry and Mills hired the sought-after Fizdale to be the team's head coach.
"Scott [Perry] and these guys are sticking to an awesome plan, bringing in guys maybe that didn't work out at a place before but are high draft picks," Fizdale said. "[With] good player development, good culture, they can turn into something they were expected to be. We're doing it the right way."
But key to everything the Knicks do in the near future is the development of Kristaps Porzingis. Being on-board with what Fizdale is preaching is a must for the organization to have any hope.
"Oh yeah, Kristaps is excited," Fizdale said. "I'm telling you right now. We had four days of fun. We talked some hoop. I planned on watching film with him. We had so much fun, we never get to the film part of it. A lot of the conversations was about our culture and the environment we're trying to create where everyone is held accountable and respects each other. I really felt that clicked with him."
Fizdale is the fourth head coach under whom Porzingis has played since he was the No. 4 pick in the 2015 draft. Porzingis played under Derek Fisher, who was fired midway through the 2015-16 season, 28 games under Kurt Rambis and the past two seasons under Jeff Hornacek.
"He likes the challenge of me wanting him to be the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year," Fizdale said. "Real competitors want that. I'm going right at it with him. I want him to look at himself that way."
Fizdale, the former Memphis Grizzlies head coach who was fired during the 2017-18 season, has been working to build a strong rapport with Porzingis.
"It was a must," Fizdale said of meeting Porzingis in Europe. "That's just who I am. I've never not seen a player over the summer. Wherever they are, I'm going there. For me and my wife to experience his culture and lived day to day in that city and learn how he grew up and things he ate growing up, places he played - for him and his family to share that with us and let us in and show us hospitality - was amazing."
The 22-year-old Porzingis averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 48 games with the Knicks before he tore his ACL in mid-February. He's been rehabbing overseas, however the Knicks do not have a timetable for his return.