The New York Knicks fired head coach Derek Fisher earlier on Monday after the team suffered its fifth consecutive defeat and ninth in ten games.
The decision has come as a big surprise, especially since Fisher was appointed by Knicks president Phil Jackson this season, the Knicks are 23-31 and struggling to stay in the playoff picture.
Under Fisher, the Knicks went 40-96 after going a franchise-worst 17-65 in his debut season as head coach in 2014-15. Despite the paltry record, Knicks fans were generally pleased with the progress shown by the young team led by rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the management “was convinced Fisher was not transitioning from the role of player to coach effectively.” Fisher enjoyed a successful career as a player, winning five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“This is a very talented team with strong character and I am confident they will succeed. Obviously, I’m disappointed, but have learned an immense amount from this experience and hope to grow from it,” said Fisher, who took over the Knicks job with no prior head-coaching experience.
President Phil Jackson thanked Fisher for instilling mental toughness into the young squad. “Some of the onus (for the defeats) is on the players. It’s a lot easier to fire a coach than 15 players. Unfortunately, it’s not always the coach,” said the hall-of-fame coach.
Rambis takes over…
Former Laker legend Kurt Rambis, who served as Fisher’s assistant, will effectively take over as interim coach. Rambis won four championships with the Lakers and was a coach/executive for four other Lakers championship teams.
Despite Rambis’ paltry head-coaching record (56-145 as coach of Minnesota Timberwolves between 2009 and 2011 and 37 games with the Lakers in 1998-1999), Jackson is confident in the former Laker’s ability. “We are bit looking for anyone else (to coach the team). I have big confidence in his (Rambis) ability to coach this team,” Jackson said.
Rambis has already had his first team meeting as interim head coach. “We’ve got to figure out a way to right this ship so we can make a push for the playoffs,” he said as the Knicks languish in the 12th spot of the competitive Eastern Conference.
Several candidates are being spoken of as the long-term replacement for Derek Fisher. Tom Thibodeau, Luke Walton and Mark Jackson are being considered for the position.