With the L.A.Lakers out of the picture, it looks like the Phil Jackson-helmed New York Knicks have finally landed the coach they were looking for. Former Laker and Thunder point guard Derek Fisher will be joining the Knicks as head coach, according to new reports.
ESPN carried the news on Monday that the Knicks have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday, a conference the Knicks media team promises will will hold “a major announcement.” Sources say that that announcement will be that the Knicks have landed Fisher.
Reportedly, the franchise will be paying Fisher $25 million over five years to act as head coach, or $5 million per year. In his 18 years as a player, Fisher earned $5 million in a year only three times.
As a point guard, Fisher was charged with making sure the offense ran correctly on all of the teams he played on. He’ll be doing something similar as a head coach, but he’ll have even more on his plate than he did as just a player.
So, the Knicks now have an inexperienced, first-year head coach in Derek Fisher. What exactly will this mean for the franchise, which is the most valuable in the NBA?
First, it means that Phil Jackson will rule basketball operations at the franchise with an iron fist. The all-time-great coach brought on Fisher because he didn’t want to put anyone he didn’t have an existing relationship with in the head coach spot. Previously, Jackson had courted Steve Kerr, but Kerr went with the Golden State Warriors. Bringing Fisher into the Knicks organization means that Jackson will have someone he trusts and can work with sitting court-side. It may also signal the return of the Triangle Offense, an offensive scheme Fisher ran for years under Jackson.
It also means that the Knicks will have a coach who actually wants to coach.
“In the last maybe decade or so, I’ve really felt like my purpose in life, my calling so to speak, was to be in a leadership position or some position of impact on other people,” Fisher said after the Thunder were eliminated from the playoffs. “Coaching allows for you to positively impact other people’s lives.”
Fisher going to the Knicks also means that the L.A. Lakers’ quest for a new head coach will have to continue. Fisher was, until recently, said to be in the running for the Lakers’ head coach slot. The Lakers reportedly lost interest in Fisher – or Fisher lost interest, one of the two – but Fisher joining up with the Knicks means that the door is totally closed on that option.
Finally, the announcement will signal the addition of Derek Fisher to the ongoing media circus surrounding the Knicks. ESPN noted that, after the announcement, Fisher is expected to attend Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. That’s just the sort of appearance that comes with the requisite shout out from the stadium announcer and then either boos or cheers from the New Yorkers in attendance.
Unless he absolutely bombs, Fisher will also likely have a good deal of time to grow into the head coach role. He’s there at Phil’s request, and Jackson reportedly wanted a good deal of freedom in making decisions. That means you don’t have to expect Fish to work miracles in the early days, though you never know; he just might be able to.
Lead image via Sports Illustrated.