Carmelo: Knicks “Would’ve Crumbled Already” If Not For Derek Fisher

A silver lining for the woeful New York Knicks on New Year’s Day: Mutiny is far from the horizon. Throwing support behind the seemingly overwhelmed Derek Fisher, Carmelo Anthony said his team “would’ve crumbled already” if not for the leadership of its rookie coach.

Via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

“I think if it was anybody else in his position, I think this probably would’ve crumbled already,” Anthony said after scoring 19 points in 29 minutes. “I think he’s doing a great job of keeping everybody focused on the task at hand and believing in what we’re trying to do.”

The Knicks have lost nine straight contests and are only one win above the (improving) Philadelphia 76ers in the loss-column for last in the Eastern Conference. 5-29 is their worst start in franchise history.

That awful reality almost makes Anthony’s defense of Fisher more meaningful than if New York was simply run-of-the-mill bad. If a team can stand behind a coach under such dire circumstances, he must be doing something right – even if its hard to tell on the floor.

No team in basketball executes more poorly than the Knicks. They take painstakingly long to initiate the triangle offense, routinely deviate from its sets, and are noticeably confused defensively on frequent occasion. Adjusting to an overhauled roster and newly implemented systems on both ends takes time; nobody thought New York would be a championship contender this season.

But the Knicks routinely toe the line between bad professional basketball team and simple pick-up outfit. There’s a constant structure to how the Sixers are losing, for instance. You see their plans in place despite the losses mounting. That’s not the case in New York.

Whether Fisher, the players, Phil Jackson, or a combination of all parties is most to blame for those wholesale struggles is up for debate. But the Knicks’ obviously mismanaged play certainly doesn’t speak well of Fisher’s first nine weeks roaming the sideline in dressier attire.

Which is why Carmelo’s stance is so important. First-year coaches are entitled to on-the-job training, and Jackson didn’t expect Fisher to strategize like Rick Carlisle after coming straight from the playing ranks. The 40 year-old’s most recent role as unwavering locker room leader would be what translated most in 2014-2015, and Anthony’s sentiment confirms that’s been the case – even in the face of unprecedented losing.

Wins would obviously be a better indicator of Fisher’s positive impact than something else. Any encouraging notes are worth reporting from Knicks’ camp these days, though, and that Fisher has public support of the face of the franchise is certainly among them.

What do you think?

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