Apr 6, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher (6) against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Thunder 122-115. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks: Derek Fisher Is Officially Their Man

Phil Jackson missed out on a guy he 3-peated with in Chicago.  Steve Kerr turned his cheek to Jackson and the New York Knicks to become the head coach of the Golden State Warriors.  People questioned the decision, since the Western Conference is incredibly tougher to win against than the East.

Jackson did, however, get another guy he 3-peated with.

Derek Fisher, who will retire from his championship playing career, will become the next head coach of the Knicks.  This will officially mean the state of New York is coached by two guys that went directly from playing to coaching.  Jason Kidd, who is still at the reigns in Brooklyn, had an up and down season with the Nets in 2013-14.  Fisher’s deal, as reported by Yahoo! Sports, is believed to be worth five years and $25 million.  Yep, they really, really wanted some fish.


Mar 18, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks new president of basketball operations Phil Jackson at a press conference at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

Fisher’s task could eventually be tougher, since he has no idea what the personnel could mirror next season.

The Knicks’ superstar, Carmelo Anthony, headlines the 2014 Free Agency class this summer, and his own version of “The Decision” will keep the basketball world on the edge of their seats.  Anthony hasn’t been extremely vocal about what he’s going to do in July, but he’s on record saying he wants to return to the Big Apple. 

There’s been a world of controversy surrounding Jackson and Anthony in the past two months, after Jackson publicly said that he’ll urge Anthony to re-sign for less money, if it means helping the team in salary situations.  I’m not sure that’s something you tell your marquee leading scorer, especially when Carmelo is the one in the driver’s seat.  Anthony has the choice to end the Knicks’ season before it even begins, and he has the keys to the ignition.

The guys on New York’s roster with Early Termination Options in their contracts include Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, and Amar’e Stoudemire, while Kenyon Martin and Cole Aldrich are unrestricted free agents.  As for restricted free agents — which means the player’s original team has the chance to keep the player by matching the offer sheet signed with another team — the Knicks have Toure’ Murry and Jeremy Tyler.

Jackson told Raymond Felton, the New York point guard that underachieved this season and got into some legal trouble, that he’ll be traded.  Nothing has happened as of yet.  But, when Phil says something, he sticks to it.  When he said he was set to take the Lakers’ head coaching position, he was.  I still fall over on the floor laughing at Jim Buss for the blasphemous decision to pass on the 11-time champion.

For the Knicks next season (unless Jackson goes on a trading spree), they can count on seeing J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler, Lamar Odom, and Iman Shumpert.  The rest is up to the prestigious President of Basketball Operations, and whatever he sees fit.

That’s why Fisher is in a tough spot.

He doesn’t even know where to begin with coaching this team.  Quite frankly, if he’s going to be miserable next year, being with his best friend Kobe Bryant could have been more attractive.

But there’s still hope in Fisher’s mind that Anthony re-ups with New York, and he’s able to coach a top two scorer in the game.  It also opens up the option for the triangle offense, the type of set Jackson is praised for and always wants to run.  He ran it with the Bulls from 1990-1998, and in Los Angeles all through the Shaq-Kobe years, and onto the Kobe-Gasol years.  Fisher was in those Lakers’ offenses, being the orchestrator at point guard.

If there’s a guy Jackson wanted to be the implementer of this offense, perhaps Fisher is the better choice than Kerr anyways.  Fisher was born with the leadership mentality, the will to always get the most out of his teammates.  Last week, I outlined exactly why he would’ve been a perfect fit for Kobe in Los Angeles, coaching his former franchise.

With Anthony deciding to return, it would mean Fisher has the foundation of a triangle offense intact.  Anthony would serve as the star — the role Bryant and Michael Jordan played.  The outside shooters to spread the floor would be there, and it’s up to Jackson to decide if Chandler is the right big man for the offense.  Considering Chandler has no threat on the low post and isn’t a consistent mid-range shooter, that answer is probably a negative.

If you’re a basketball junkie that loves X’s and O’s, here’s the triangle offense for you:

Hiring the right choice for the coaching vacancy was immediate for Jackson.  He can now check that off the list.

Now, it’s about how well he and Fisher get along with owner James Dolan.  That’s been a bit dicey since Jackson agreed to become the President, and they’ve already ran into a couple disagreements.  The next step for Jackson is obviously filling out the roster.

Notice what Jason Kidd walked into.  The starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez sounded more than attractive.  Then, Kidd had to result to spilling drinks once Lopez’s foot became shot and Garnett turned into a skeleton with Dr. Dre beats on.

It’s not always a cup of tea for a new head coach, more less a first-year coach.

Fisher has to prepare for anything, but no other guy would have a better personality to do so.



Shane Young is an NBA credentialed writer for 8 Points, 9 Seconds and HoopsHabit.com.   For all Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, or general NBA coverage, follow @YoungNBA and @HoopsHabit on Twitter.



Tags: Carmelo Anthony Derek Fisher James Dolan New York Knicks Phil Jakcson Steve Kerr

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