With nearly a year to reflect on what went wrong with the Knicks, Derek Fisher has the answer.
“We both didn’t know exactly what we were doing,” Fisher said of himself and Knicks president Phil Jackson.
In a wide-ranging interview with Bleacher Report, Fisher seems to admit that he might have run into things too quickly with the Knicks, trading a uniform for a suit in a matter of months.
“When we’re young, sometimes we’re quick to go after the first or the newest or the shiniest opportunity that is in front of us, because we don’t quite know any better,” Fisher said of the decision to coach the Knicks. “The prettiest girl, the shiniest car, the best-looking house. Then once we open the door and walk inside the house, we realize the walls aren’t painted, the foundation’s cracked, the plumbing is leaking in the backyard and the pool is about to collapse.
“You don’t see those things or you don’t have a feel for the idea that you kind of have to inspect all of that before you decide to buy that house.”
He added that the unfamiliar new roles for himself and Jackson made things complicated from the start.
“Being the head coach is not like playing. Being president is not like being the head coach,” Fisher told Bleacher Report. “That’s one of the reasons why we didn’t quite complete our meshing and blending of talents and thoughts, because those two positions are not always aligned.”
Fisher was fired in February of 2016 with a 23-31 record, which came on the heels of a 17-64 season as a rookie head coach, the worst mark in franchise history.
While the numbers aren’t pretty, Fisher told Bleacher Report that he felt that a “foundation” was being built for the future at Madison Square Garden, and offered a shot at Jeff Hornacek while pumping up his own tenure as coach.
“We were able to take a team that wasn’t as talented as the team they have now, and we were much better and much further along than this group is that they have now. Because the foundation was being laid,” he said.
He told Bleacher Report that he got the feeling that the power structure in “the basketball department” led to confusion among the players about who was really in charge.
“I think at times it was more challenging for our players to really understand,” he told Bleacher Report. “’Who am I committing myself to? Who am I selling myself to? Who am I running through the brick wall for?”
Despite the organizational confusion, Fisher still believes that he was onto something with the Knicks, particularly with Kristaps Porzinigis, whose development seemed to stall after Kurt Rambis took over for Fisher.
“I know what we deposited into Kristaps Porzingis that is coming out this year,” Fisher said. “He isn’t where he is now by himself. He deserves all the credit, but what we were helping him do for himself — that matters.”