A dispute with All-Star center Marc Gasol cost Davis Fizdale his job with the Memphis Grizzlies so when the New York Knicks hired him as a head coach, the first thing he did was build a good relationship with the face of the franchise, Kristaps Porzingis. Fizdale recently went to Europe to personally meet and have a conversation with the Latvian center.
The meeting between David Fizdale and Kristaps Porzingis went well as expected. In an interview with Bruce Beck of WNBC in New York (h/t Elite Sports NY), Fizdale revealed that he challenged Porzingis to win the Most Valuable Player award and the Defensive Player of the Year. Porzingis does seem to be ready for his first major task under the new Knicks head coach.
“He likes the challenge of me saying ‘I want him to be the MVP’ and ‘I want him to be the Defensive Player of the Year.’ That’s real competitors they want that and I’m going right at it with him. I want him to look at himself that way.”
With the improvements he has shown in his first three years in the NBA, it is not too much to ask Kristaps Porzingis to win the Most Valuable Player award and the Defensive Player of the Year. Last season, the 23-year-old power forward/center showed his potential to become a superstar, averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks on 43.9 percent shooting from the field and 39.5 percent from beyond the arc.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) August 23, 2018
Unfortunately, Knicks Head Coach David Fizdale will be waiting for one more year to see if Kristaps Porzingis really has what it takes to win either or both prestigious awards. As of now, Porzingis is still recovering from a torn ACL that forced him to miss 34 games last season. There is already a huge improvement in his rehabilitation, but Porzingis is still expected to miss most of the 2018-19 NBA regular season.
The Knicks could have Porzingis back before the NBA Playoffs starts. However, without Porzingis on their roster, it remains questionable if the Knicks can earn a playoff spot in the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. In the ESPN Summer Forecast, panelists predicted the Knicks to become the second worst team in the Eastern Conference and expected to finish the 2018-19 NBA season with a win-loss record of 28-54.
Still, Fizdale remains optimistic that the Knicks could once again become a significant team in the league. While waiting for the return of Porzingis, the Knicks will use the 2018-19 NBA season to further develop their young and promising players like Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Tim Hardaway Jr.