While 2015-16 has been a semi-productive season for the New York Knicks, boss Phil Jackson needs to understand Derek Fisher just doesn’t fit in.
By Jeremy Fialkow
Derek Fisher needs to go.
His 11-12 man rotations and overall lack of feel for his team and players need to go. These New York Knicks can be a good team, a playoff team. But they won’t go anywhere with Fisher at the helm.
At this point in the season the Knicks sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. With their potential lottery pick heading to the Raptors (in a trade for Andrea Bargnani, mind you), the Knicks need to go for the gold.
However, that task seems nearly impossible when Fisher continually trots out his “trump-card” lineup to begin second quarters of: Jerian Grant–Sasha Vujacic–Derrick Williams-Aaron Afflalo-Kyle O’Quinn.
Kyle O’Quinn! Sasha Vujacic! Oh my!
Vujacic, by the way, continually gets 15+ minutes a game, while Jerian Grant, their promising (other) first-round pick not named Kristaps, gradually loses minutes.
Vujacic has a PER of 7.84, half of league average. The 31-year-old who’s been out of the NBA for two years is shooting 33% from the field, and 28% from 3-point range.
It’s dumbfounding how this player is earning minutes for a professional team. It’s even more dumbfounding that Fisher believes Vujacic brings more to the table than Grant. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and Sasha is a very, very old dog.
Instead, Derek should ride-or-die with Jerian as the first/second guard off the bench. He’s an aggressive rookie who loves to attack the paint. He may or may not learn from his mistakes, but the potential is noticeable.
Anyway, the Knicks’ issues don’t necessarily stem from Fisher’s in-game coaching decisions, rather, it’s his lack of in-game coaching.
Through the first 50 games, Fisher looks like the cat got his tongue for 48 minutes, never calling plays from the sideline, never commending players for a nice decision, and never scolding them for stupid mistakes. Fisher is purely a motivator, but the Knicks need a teacher.
Down the stretch of games, when Arron Afflalo is taking one post-fadeaway after another and bricking them all, one would assume the Knicks aren’t even running plays
Well, that’s because…they aren’t:
Derek Fisher on if Porzingis is ready to have his number called down stretch of games: "We don't run plays."
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) February 1, 2016
This tweet from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News is the least surprising revelation of this mediocre season.
But throughout all the mediocrity, there is hope for a successful future. With Melo and KP growing as a tandem and continuing to shine, the Knicks are a true point guard and head coach away from being contenders. (Hello, Mike Conley?)
So, it’s time for Derek to try something new, or beat it. Maybe make Afflalo your sixth man? Maybe give the starting PG job to Langston Galloway instead of Jose Calderon? Maybe remove Sasha Vujacic from all team activities?
Who knows, I’m no Zen Master.
The Knicks needs a coach who is going to command respect from all 15 guys, not a coach who could have been your teammate 500 days ago. Hey, Phil: Your Knicks need a guy like Tom Thibodeau or Mark Jackson, a proven winner who will knock some sense into the Afflalo’s of the world.
The sooner, the better.