Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
A few notes about where things stand with the Knicks after an awkward, uncomfortable 24 hours for the organization:
IS FIZDALE THE FALL GUY?
Yes, the impromptu press conference from team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry on Sunday night made it clear that David Fizdale's job is under scrutiny amid New York's 2-8 start. If the Knicks continue to struggle, no one would be surprised if Fizdale were let go in the near future.
ESPN reported on Monday that Mills was laying the groundwork internally to fire Fizdale. This could lead you to believe that Mills will not be held responsible if New York fails to meet expectations. That's not accurate though.
Several people familiar with the matter told SNY on Monday that Mills, Perry and Fizdale are all under greater scrutiny amid New York's 2-8 start. "Everyone's on notice," one source said. So the notion that Mills, who has served as either president or GM of the Knicks (under Phil Jackson) since 2013-14, would be immune to the consequences that would come of New York continues to underperform is inaccurate.
If the Knicks continue to struggle, agents and executives keeping an eye on the Knicks believe that the most likely scenario has Fizdale being fired during the season and Mills and Perry being replaced after the year.
WHAT ABOUT MARK JACKSON?
If Mills and Perry fire Fizdale, it's unclear if they would be permitted to hire a full-time replacement. In the scenario described above, the Knicks would have an interim coach and would hire their full-time replacement for Fizdale after the season. If the Knicks are permitted to hire a full-time coach during the season, Mark Jackson is one obvious candidate. Mills and Perry interviewed Jackson during their search in the 2018 offseason and the former Warriors coach was high on list of some in the organization when New York started its search last season.
WHAT ABOUT DOLAN'S INFLUENCE?
If the Knicks fire Fizdale, the decision to do so would be solely up to Mills. Jim Dolan would have to sign off on the decision, just as any team owner does in situations like this. But he won't have a heavy influence in the proceedings. Since Jackson was hired as team president, Dolan has, for the most part, let his top executive make basketball decisions without influence. The owner is clearly upset over the Knicks' 2-8 start. And he obviously voiced his displeasure with Mills during Sunday's loss to Cleveland, which led to the impromptu press conference. But the feeling is that he will stay out of the club's decision on Fizdale. One area where Dolan factors in to this whole thing? Money. Mills, Perry and Fizdale all have multiple years left on their contract. So the owner would have to eat some guaranteed money if he fired one of his executives or the head coach. When asked on Monday if he'd heard any assurances from management that his job was safe, Fizdale said, "I got a two-and-a-half year contract. That's my assurance…. The assurance is that I have a contract."
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
In some ways, the situation Fizdale faces going forward is almost untenable. After every Knicks' loss, there will be speculation over whether or not Fizdale will be fired. The only thing that will quiet the speculation is a lengthy winning streak -- or if Mills or Dolan state publicly that they are fully committed to Fizdale for the remainder of the season. If not, there will be plenty of outside noise about Fizdale's job status until there is a resolution.
Is Fizdale responsible for some of the Knicks' shortcomings in their 2-8 start? Absolutely. Is the roster that New York assembled this summer (after missing out on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving) flawed? Certainly.
So there is plenty of blame to go around amid the Knicks' poor start. At the moment, it seems like Mills, Perry and Fizdale will all be in danger of losing their jobs if the losing continues.