The New York Knicks have fired coach David Fizdale and assistant coach Keith Smart following the team’s eighth consecutive loss of the season, the team officially announced on Friday. Assistant coach Mike Miller has been named the team’s interim coach.
Here’s the statement from the Knicks:
“Today, head coach David Fizdale and assistant coach Keith Smart were relieved of their coaching duties. Assistant coach Mike Miller has been named interim head coach.”
This may not be the final major shakeup for the Knicks this season. Discussions with owner James Dolan have left top executive Steve Mills under the impression that the front office would be safe if the team showed progress, according to Ian Begley of SNY. It obviously has not, and if the team continues to struggle as it has, he very well could be next.
Fizdale had been on the hot seat since the season’s opening tip. His Knicks have been abysmal this season, opening with a 4-18 record that included an impromptu press conference from a front office that voiced only tepid support for the embattled coach. And now he is out of a job.
This had been Fizdale’s second season as coach of the Knicks. Last season went about as poorly as this one has, as the Knicks finished with a 17-65 record that brings Fizdale’s total mark with the team to 21-83. Struggles were expected last season as the Knicks stripped the roster down to the studs in anticipation of a free agency haul.
Fizdale was hired at least in part because of those expectations. He is beloved by the star players he worked with as an assistant under Erik Spoelstra in Miami, as players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have publicly voiced support for him in the past. That was expected to make him a valuable recruiter in free agency, but after Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving spurned the Knicks in favor of the Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks were forced to pivot and build a different sort of team.
Even without the superstars, though, this season came with higher expectations. The word that was used most often to describe the team’s hopes for this season was “progress.” A playoff appearance wasn’t necessarily realistic, but another 17-win disaster was simply unacceptable. The Knicks spent money this offseason with the idea that they would at least be able to put a competitive product on the floor. As ill-conceived as many as their moves have been, most notably their abundance of additions at power forward, this is a significantly more talented roster than the one the Knicks played with last season. The results have been the same, and the front office decided that Fizdale was to blame for that.