The New York Knicks pulled the plug on the David Fizdale experience on Friday, and at least one NBA coach says they fired him far earlier than they should have. Fizdale was cast out of MSG after a disappointing start to the 2019 season, though not one that was wholly unexpected given the current state of the Knicks.
New York missed big in free agency this summer, but in his second season it was largely obvious that there was little Fizdale could do with the current roster to make a winner in Manhattan. It’s that sentiment that’s clearly shared by some prominent voices in the NBA, including San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. He called it “pretty unfair” that the Knicks got tired of Fizdale in New York and laid out his case in an unprompted quote that was highly critical of the organization.
Popovich addressed the media on Friday ahead of San Antonio’s game against the Sacramento Kings and let the Knicks have it, saying Fizdale had been in New York “a minute and a half” and was expected to fix things far too quickly.
“I don’t now where the decision was made to fire coach Fizdale, but if it came from the top it’s a case of mistaken identity,” Popovich said. “He’s a fine talented young coach with a great pedigree.”
Pop on the firing of David Fizdale: pic.twitter.com/46Ynadw4h7
— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) December 7, 2019
Fizdale has a good reputation among NBA players and coaches — his tenure in Memphis also ended abruptly and with him getting votes of confidence from outside the organization by players like LeBron James. But Popovich made it clear that he was not given enough time to make a turnaround happen in New York.
“It’s ridiculous to think you’re gonna bring a young guy in and after being there a minute and a half, you expect him to fix everything that’s been wrong there for a long time. So it’s the old analogy: he got thrown under the bus.”
Popovich said he’ll come out of it OK “because he’s a great coach” and everyone involved is sure this isn’t his last NBA coaching gig, but it’s clear the Knicks are not coming out of this looking very good according to one of the NBA’s biggest voices.