AP source: Knicks agree to deal with Fizdale to be new coach
NEW YORK (AP) David Fizdale is coming back to coaching as the latest pick of the New York Knicks to turn around their franchise.
The Knicks agreed to hire Fizdale on Thursday, a person with knowledge of the details said.
The former Memphis Grizzlies coach will replace Jeff Hornacek, who was fired last month after two seasons.
The Knicks then conducted a lengthy search before agreeing Thursday to a deal in principle with Fizdale, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was not officially announced.
ESPN first reported the agreement with Fizdale.
Fizdale led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in his first season before being fired early last season following a clash with star center Marc Gasol.
That did little to diminish the respect of Fizdale, who had been an assistant to Erik Spoelstra in Miami when the Heat won two NBA championships and developed strong relationships with superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
The Knicks will hope he will have the same effect on their young team, which has missed the playoffs the past five seasons and could struggle again next season while All-Star Kristaps Porzingis recovers from a torn knee ligament.
Fizdale went 43-39 and led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in his lone full season in Memphis. He lasted just 19 games into the following season, when Gasol publicly objected to being left on the bench in the fourth quarter of a game.
Fizdale then did some work in TV and was mentioned as a candidate for nearly every job that became available this offseason,
He ends up becoming the 11th Knicks coach since Jeff Van Gundy resigned in the 2001-02 season.
Hornacek went 60-104 and the Knicks fired him at the airport upon returning from Cleveland after their season finale. Team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry said at the time they wanted someone who could better communicate with today’s NBA players and said they were searching for someone who would mold the team over the next three to five years.
That seemed to be the situation that was developing in Memphis, where he opened up the offense of what had long been a defensive-minded team in his first season. He then endeared himself to the city during a fiery rant after a playoff loss to San Antonio, when he was fined $30,000 for a tirade against the officials during which he said ”Take that for data!” and ”They’re not going to rook us!” – quotes that both ended up on T-shirts.
But it abruptly ended last November when the Grizzlies fell to 7-12 after a loss in which Gasol remained on the bench the entire fourth quarter. Fizdale was fired the next day, though the Grizzlies said it was because of the team’s overall performance, not the specific incident with Gasol.
Fizdale was previously an assistant in Golden State and Atlanta before moving on to Miami.