When the Knicks hired David Fizdale to be their new head coach, they knew he would be bringing aggressive basketball on both ends of the floor. Well, that clearly hasn't translated to wins for this rebuilding roster this season, but that doesn't mean his tactics won't be successful.
Fizdale knows he needs certain players around his young guns to make it work.
"Our defense won't really, really get to where it's at until we start to really fill in the gaps with the type of guys we think can take our defense to the next level," Fizdale told the Daily News' Stefan Bondy. "Add maybe another forward defender or another perimeter defender that has a reputation for that. Those kind of guys are the ones that elevate your system to the next level."
He isn't allowed to say so, but the players Fizdale is referring to are the top free agents expected to hit the market this offseason. Kevin Durant obviously comes to mind for the Knicks, as has been the case all season long. Not only is he arguably the best pure scorer in the NBA, but his long wingspan makes for a menace on defense.
There is also Kawhi Leonard, who can opt out of his deal for 2019-20 if he wants to in Toronto. The former Defensive Player of the Year would certainly be a big pickup for New York if they can land the small forward. If not, how about Klay Thompson or Jimmy Butler?
The Knicks will have their fair share of options -- it just comes down to who fits Fizdale's scheme. For now, though, he will have to endure the final eight games of the season as the team aims to finish with the worst record in the NBA to hopefully land the No. 1 overall pick. And Fizdale is once again without his best on-ball defender in Frank Ntilikina.
"It's been a tough year man," Fizdale said. "Obviously just alone with injuries, that part has been a rollercoaster for (Ntilikina). He's had his ups and downs obviously with his performance. But I asked him to do a lot of different things this year and he took them on all well. With Frank, it's going to be a measure of when we fill in these gaps, Frank is a winning player. He knows how to play the game. The biggest thing is to get his health right to set him up to have a great summer."
Whether or not Ntilikina will actually be in a Knicks uniform is another question to tackle, but Fizdale will be hunkered down in the Knicks' war room this offseason to do whatever it takes to land his free agents to work in his system. Maybe then can the Knicks, and the fanbase, judge how well Fizdale's scheme works.