The newest head coach of the New York Knicks, David Fizdale, has been making the rounds doing a publicity tour around the city. His tour seems like it is accompanied by some talking points from Knicks management about how they are committed to the rebuild and are in it for the long haul. It is almost like they are preparing the Knicks’ faithful for a couple of years of more terrible basketball. But don’t worry, this time we won’t blame the coach.
This public relations tour, which Jeff Hornacek did just a couple of years ago, seems sadder this time. This has nothing to do with Fizdale himself but rather the tired storyline from the Knicks who are promising things will be different soon. They swear it this time. Fizdale isn’t going to be held accountable for the poor basketball they are going to showcase next season. And there will most likely be bad basketball.
Kristaps Porzingis is a very good basketball player. However, he has never played a full season of basketball and seems to be fairly prone to getting banged up at this point. Maybe he is just trying to do too much. Maybe he is injury prone. He will miss at least the first month of the season as he rehabs from his torn ACL and the Knicks have been oddly quiet about locking up their best player. Porzingis has already shown he is unhappy with the state of the Knicks last offseason when he skipped the exit interviews and put the dysfunction of the Phil Jackson-led Knicks on full display. Will he sign an extension? Will the Knicks even offer one?
It has been almost two decades since the Knicks were a relevant team. If the roadmap being suggested by management is to be believed it certainly will take them past the twenty-year mark. This team is one their 12th head coach since Jeff Van Gundy abruptly resigned in 2001. They have played exactly 25 playoff games since 2001. They have won seven of them. One playoff series win in 17 years. Of all the big-name free agents in the NBA over the years only Amare Stoudemire has taken up the challenge of trying to build something at Madison Square Garden.
This time management swears they know what they are doing. They are pushing Fizdale around the New York City talk circuit and talking about a plan to rebuild the right way to prove it. The problem is Knicks fans have been hearing similar things for almost twenty years. The Knicks have whiffed in the draft, with Porzingis being the one exception and the jury is out on Frank Ntilikina. Tim Hardaway, Jr. is technically a Knicks draft pick but he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for the rights to Jerian Grant before signing a huge deal with the Knicks as a free agent before last season.
There are some major questions facing the Knicks. Will Porzingis sign on to at least a couple of years of losing basketball? Will the years of terrible cap management allow the Knicks to pursue a true star player? Will one even want to come to Madison Square Garden? Will Fizdale keep the peace with his players through the losing and media scrutiny? Will Steve Mills be able to identify talent in the draft?
Maybe the future will be different. Maybe it will be more of the same. Management hasn’t done anything in the past to make a Knicks fan confident that the future will be different. The reality is the plan will rest on the draft lottery, something the Knicks haven’t had much luck with, when they have had first round picks, in the past. But, that is the reality right now. Terrible basketball with the hope of potential mediocrity and the hope of the lottery. That is the Knicks’ future which is really no different than the last 17 years. The only thing that really seems to change with the Knicks is their head coach. Good luck, David Fizdale.