Recent New York Knicks rumors give a peek into what David Fizdale could be planning with his starting lineup this upcoming season.
New York Knicks rumors have slowed down recently with free agency winding down. The Knicks roster is pretty much set, as they have 19 players currently on their roster. They have space to add one more player if they so choose to. Whether or not they choose to do that, the team will have a different look come the regular season.
New York’s biggest change this offseason came on their bench. Jeff Hornacek was fired after two years as head coach. It was a move that didn’t surprise anyone. While Hornacek cannot solely be blamed for what happened these past two seasons, he was hired by Phil Jackson, who is no longer with the organization.
As a result, it made sense to go in a different direction. That different direction starts with the new head coach, David Fizdale.
Fizdale last coached with the Memphis Grizzlies but was fired 19 games into the 2017-18 season. A big reason for his firing was his relationship, or lack thereof, with star center Marc Gasol.
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The Grizzlies wasted no time finding a solution to their problem. They sided with the player, firing Fizdale. It is something that Fidzdale was open about throughout the interview process and seems to already be learning from the experience.
In New York, Fizdale is presented with another opportunity to prove himself. The Knicks have a very young team that he will have an opportunity to mold. Communication will be key for Fizdale to get the most out of what will be a young team. With that, we could also see some changes coming to the lineups.
Last season, it seemed Hornacek was uncomfortable playing the younger guys. Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. were relied upon heavily despite the losses mounting. That is something we may not see this season.
Earlier this offseason, Fizdale made it be known that size is one thing that he will be taking into consideration with the starting lineup. Via Stean Bondy of the New York Daily News, a change can be coming as Fizdale believes Lee and Hardaway are too small to be starting together on the wing.
As Bondy also mentions, rookie Kevin Knox could be one player that earns a starting spot. Knox, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is listed at 6’9″ and 215 pounds. Lee is listed at 6’5″ and 200 pounds, while Hardaway comes in at 6’6″ and 205 pounds.
While wing players are at a premium in the NBA nowadays, Lee and Hardaway are probably better suited as shooting guards. Getting a little more size on the wings wouldn’t be a bad thing for New York.
Ian Begley of ESPN New York, like Bondy, also notes that Fizdale is not afraid to give the young players a spot in the starting lineup. Begley takes it a step further, saying that it seems younger players will have a longer leash under Fizdale than they had under Hornacek.
Contract status is the reason for Begley’s thinking, and it would be hard to argue against that.
Under a new head coach, lineup changes are expected. With Fizdale now the head man, things will be changing in New York. However, no one is guaranteed anything at this current moment.
As Begley shares, the players will have to earn their minutes. Nothing will be handed out to them.
It is fair to assume that this season will be about development for the Knicks. They have some young players that need to find their way in the league. With Kristaps Porzingis‘ status for the season up in the air, it makes sense to see what the younger players have.
You know that Porzingis is a cornerstone of the rebuild. Who else will join him as a building block? Frank Ntilikina showed improvement during his appearance at NBA Summer League. In addition to Knox’s positive performance, second round pick Mitchell Robinson also turned some heads.
Robinson and Porzingis look like a potentially dominant duo on the court. Both are excellent rim protectors and their offensive skill-sets would play well off of each other. Their versatility is something that Fizdale is already dreaming up lineup combinations of.
Al Iannazzone of Newsday shared that Fizdale is considering using Porzingis on the wing in certain situations.
“Fizdale likes the idea of playing Porzingis at center, and compared him to Anthony Davis in that role. But Fizdale also wants to use the 7-3 Porzingis at small forward sometimes and have “a whole bunch of wingspan” with that lineup.
“It really is a luxury for me to have a guy that I can move around at different positions,” Fizdale said after Thursday’s summer league practice. “I just see a lot of places I can use him to be dynamic for us.”
He didn’t stop there. Fizdale also mentioned a potential lineup with Knox playing shooting guard that was rounded out with Luke Kornet, Porzingis and Robinson. Kornet, Porzingis and Robinson are all 7’1″ or taller. Putting Ntilikina at point guard would give the Knicks a ludicrous amount of length.
It is something that will be considered, as Fizdale doesn’t want to shoehorn players into specific roles.
“Put a whole bunch of wingspan with Kevin at the two and see how teams deal with that at the rim and with our length,” Fizdale said. “I can’t lock him into nothing.”
For the first time in a long time, there is excitement surrounding the Knicks. Fizdale’s lineup combinations and willingness to try new things is something that should excite fans.