With Derek Fisher now officially relieved of his head coaching duties, New York Knicks boss Phil Jackson needs to take a hard look at flexibility.
By David Hong
As we all know, on Monday the New York Knicks fired head coach Derek Fisher after the squad lost nine of their last 10 games including five straight.
Assistant coach Kurt Rambis will be the Knicks interim coach for the rest of the season.
Most likely, this offseason the Knicks will look for a new head coach.
We all know how much Knicks president Phil Jackson wants to hire people who he’s connected with. This is mainly due to the fact he’s married to his famed triangle offense and wants someone who’s familiar with it. That was one of the reasons why he hired Fisher in the first place back in 2014, because Fisher played under Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Here’s what Phil has to do: forget about the triangle.
Yes, I know he’s won 11 NBA championships as a head coach, all while using his beloved triangle offense. However, when you look at who he had with the Chicago Bulls and the Lakers, he clearly had the great NBA basketball player ever in Michael Jordan and one of the greatest to ever play the game in Kobe Bryant. Then, sprinkle in a few more NBA greats like Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen to the mix, and it becomes quite clear why the triangle suceeded.
I’m not discounting Jackson’s prowess as a head coach. And yes, Jordan and Bryant were score first guards who adapted to the team ball through the triangle. All the stars Phil coached were elite stars who could probably play in any offense.
There are positives. The triangle offense does spread the floor, provides more ball movement, and players cut and move more without the ball, thus producing more team basketball, but there are other ways to play team ball.
The triangle offense is a specific kind of offense that looks to be past its prime.
No one seems to use it – not even Fisher used it much. Steve Kerr doesn’t use the triangle with the Golden State Warriors and yet his team plays great unselfish ball that won a championship last season and is on a record setting pace to win the most regular season games in history. Sure it helps when you have the Splash Brothers of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, but Kerr is proving you don’t need the triangle offense to play team ball.
I know it hurts him to do this, but Phil, it’s time to move on.
Another reason is that his guys, for the most part, have not enjoyed much success coaching. Other than Kerr and Luke Walton, everyone else has failed.
Rambis actually has a worse coaching record than Fisher overall, under 28%. We all know how Fisher failed even though he was coaching a D-League Knicks team last season. Brian Shaw failed miserably as head coach of the Denver Nuggets.
Other than Walton probably, none of Phil’s disciples who could possibly be the next Knicks coach, excited anyone.
The best candidates, by far, are the people not connected with Phil.
The best man for the job is Tom Thibodeau, without question.
Thibodeau enjoyed a lot of success in his five years coaching the Bulls from 2010-2015. In his first season he won 60+ games in the 2010-2011 season and won NBA Coach of the Year award. All five seasons, the Bulls were well over .500 and reached the playoffs. He is a defensive minded coach who his Bulls to be one of the best defensive teams. The players loved playing for him and he was good motivator.
If he’s the next head coach for the Knicks, they would definitely play much better defense under him and the players would play hard for him unlike with Fisher. Carmelo Anthony has a close connection with Thibodeau and Melo would no doubt embrace this move. Thibodeau also developed Derrick Rose into an NBA MVP and Jimmy Butler into an All-Star. I’m also confident that he can develop Kristaps Porzingis.
Another hot candidate would be former Knicks player Mark Jackson. Before Kerr took over, Jackson actually helped build the Warriors into a solid team and helped develop Stephen Curry into one of the game’s elites. Plus, Jackson is a native New Yorker with strong ties to the city and having played for the Knicks, he knows the atmosphere well.
Those two guys would definitely be a major upgrade over any of Phil’s guys, especially Thibodeau.
I believe it’s time then for Phil to go in a different direction and give others outside of his connections a chance.
Tom Thibodeau’s head coaching resume says it all and plus he was a former Knicks assistant coach from 1996 to 2004 and he has openly expressed his desire to be the head coach for the Knicks.
Phil, please hire Thibodeau.