NEW YORK -- David Fizdale won the press conference.
There can't be much doubt about that as he hit all the right notes in meeting and greeting the New York media -- and several of his new players -- at Madison Square Garden on a bright and sunny Tuesday afternoon.
But Fizdale is the 11th coach to helm the Knicks since Jeff Van Gundy's resignation in 2001. Just how realistic is it to expect him to change the culture of a team that has seven 50-loss seasons in the last 11 years, and has won exactly one playoff series -- one -- since 2001?
Here are five questions facing Fizdale as he moves forward:
1. How bleak could his first year at the Garden be?
This past season, the Knicks finished 29-53 for their fourth straight 50-loss season. They haven't had a winning season since 2012-13.
Barring a radical decision by LeBron James to come to the Big Apple (more on that below), that isn't going to change overnight. The Knicks roster has a few nice young pieces, but with Kristaps Porzingis on the shelf with an ACL recovery and his return date unclear, Knicks fans shouldn't expect Fizdale to wave his magic wand and change things overnight.
2. How tough will it be to leapfrog the other young teams in the East?
As long as LeBron remains in the Eastern Conference, the road to the NBA Finals goes through him. (See: the Toronto Raptors). No one knows if LeBron will leave Cleveland after this season via free agency, or if he does leave, where he will land. If he stays in Cleveland, or picks another Eastern Conference team such as Philadelphia, the Knicks (and everyone else in the East) will be at his mercy.
If LeBron leaves the Cavs to head to the L.A. Lakers or another Western Conference outfit, the East will open up. But the Sixers with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and the Celtics with Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are positioned to pick up the King's mantle in the East.
3. What about LeBron? Any chance he comes to New York?
Much has been made of Fizdale's prior relationship with James from their days together in Miami, and that was most certainly not lost on Steve Mills and Scott Perry when they made this hire.
"That's obviously terrific that some of the game's greats recognize David for who he is as a man and as a coach," Perry said. "But [from] the guys 1-15, the reviews coming back are all very similar, that he invested in us, he challenged us, he's going to hold us accountable. David has shown the ability to relate to a number of players across the board, not just the stars."
Fizdale was asked straight up about his ability to attract free agents (Read: LeBron).
"I can't really speak on free agency," he said. "I just know that if we build this thing right, people will want to come."
Bottom line: Don't expect James to come walking through the Madison Square Garden doors as anything other than a visiting player in the coming years.
4. How much has he learned from the Marc Gasol debacle in Memphis?
Fizdale says he learned from the Gasol situation, where his feud with the Spanish big man caused him to lose his job in Memphis last fall.
"I really take ownership of that," Fizdale said. "We didn't necessarily click on things. That's my responsibility as a coach to get players to buy in, collaborate, come together. For whatever reason, we bumped heads. But I took that to heart. My wife can tell you better than anyone, I've been meeting with some super leaders from all industries and all walks of life and getting their feedback on how to manage and deal with different situations … and really try to dive into being better and growing from the situation."
I spoke with the father of one Fizdale's former players in Memphis, who raved about him. But he added, "Some players liked him, not all. Marc Gasol definitely did not like him, that's why he got fired in Memphis."
Perry and Mills like the fact that Fizdale "owned" the situation.
"He owned that moment," Perry said. "He tried to rectify it and he walked us through that."
Fizdale said he learned from the Gasol situation and that should bode well for him going forward. "You get their respect by showing up every day and telling them the truth," he said of players in general. "I care about them as human beings. I care about their families."
5. Will fans really tolerate a team rebuilding in New York?
Brian Cashman and the Yankees have shown you can rebuild in the Big Apple -- and rebuild quickly. Cashman shed most of his team's older players and expensive contracts and now fields a team mostly full of 20-something stars and stars-on-the rise.
The Knicks are looking to do something similar, having rid themselves of both Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony. And Mills and Perry are preaching patience.
Referencing the mistakes and quick-fix approaches of past regimes, Mills said, "We're about winning but we're about creating something that we can win [with] for a sustained period of time."
It's also worth mentioning here that the Knicks now have three African-American men running their franchise for the first time ever -- Mills, Perry and Fizdale. Apart from that, they seem to have established a strong bond early on and an eagerness to work together.
But Jim Dolan still owns the team and there's really no telling how the future will unfold, especially if Knicks fans grow unhappy with Fizdale if the losing continues for several years.
At one point during his presser, Fizdale looked at the gathered Knicks players and said, "Maybe eventually we will hold that trophy together guys, right?"
Lofty goals, for sure, and only time will tell if Fizdale will survive long enough to come close to making that happen.