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Derek Fisher preaches culture change, says when introduced he has experience to turn Knicks around

Jun 10, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT

It’s not going to take just a couple of little tweaks to make the New York Knicks contenders again. The roster needs a lot of work, the organizational culture needs to change.

Phil Jackson has hired Derek Fisher to be his coach and help usher in that change, something that was made and Fisher’s introductory press conference at Madison Square Garden Tuesday. Fisher reportedly got a five-year, $25 million deal.

But is Fisher — a guy with no head coaching experience, who was still playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder a couple weeks ago — the right guy to help spearhead that change with Jackson? Fisher is confident he is. Very confident.

“There will be a lot of talk about my inexperience as a head coach, and that is obviously factually true,” Fisher said. “I have never been a head coach in the NBA or in college or in high school — but I am experienced. Basketball is a game that I am experienced in. Playing, understanding, leading in, guiding in, helping another group achieve the greatest gift in the world as a professional athlete and that is being a champion. That I have experience in. And that’s the experience I plan on sharing with these players, sharing with this organization.”

It’s something the Knicks have not experienced for more than 40 years as an organization. That is why Jackson was brought in by owner James Dolan at the hefty price tag of $12 million a year, it’s why Jackson was given real power.

Jackson has talked about changing the culture at Madison Square Garden and Fisher echoed that sentiment. He said the bar needs to be set at a championship level.

“That is who we will become, that is who we are,” Fisher said. “It is here, it exists here, Phil experienced it as a player almost 40 years ago… and we know without a doubt we know what that is, what it means how to create that, how to live in that on a daily basis. I’m excited about this.”

Jackson said he had a feeling Fisher wanted to go this way based on conversations previous summers, and once hey started talking things progressed quickly.

Jackson mentioned Fisher a couple weeks ago at a press conference as a “person of interest” but Fisher was still playing for the Thunder at that time. That tampering earned Phil Jackson a $25,000 fine — and if you don’t think Jackson knew the fine was coming when he said it but he was willing to pay the price to get the message sent, you haven’t watched Jackson over the years. He is careful about what he says publicly, these kinds of things accidentally.

Jackson tried to dispel the idea Fisher would simply be a proxy coach for him, saying that a younger coach who could relate to the players was needed. The players don’t exactly listen to the Grateful Dead like in his day, Jackson noted.

“Obviously Derek’s in a bit of a learning process, but we think his experience the last three or four years has been one of more assistant coach/player role and he’s learned under some of the best coaches: Don Nelson, Jerry Sloan, and the latest in Scotty Brooks,” Jackson said, leaving himself and his 11 rings off that list.

Fisher said yes, you can expect to see the triangle in New York.

“I love the triangle system,” Fisher said. “I believe with the roster we have we can utilize it to be more efficient, more effective, to give ourselves a chance to play better defense by getting higher percentage shots, so I believe in the system.”

Carmelo Anthony would fit well in the triangle system, getting the ball at the elbow or spacing the floor on the wings at times. He’s the kind of elite scorer the offense needs (providing he is willing to move the ball in it).

Anthony can and is expected to opt out and become a free agent this summer, he can choose to re-sign with the Knicks or not. Jackson and GM Steve Mills are going to meet with Anthony in the coming days, according to Jackson. Even if ‘Melo does opt out he could re-sign with the Knicks. But mostly Fisher and Jackson dodged the question about the future with Anthony.

Fisher said he did have very informal contact with the Lakers but never seemed to be seriously considered, which is why he was surprised the Lakers released a statement saying they were not going to pursue him. But that flirtation was never serious, the Lakers are focused on getting an experienced coach.

Jackson hired Fisher and went another direction, but Fisher thinks he has the experience for this job. Fisher was never the best athlete, the tallest, the fastest guy on the court but he played 18 NBA seasons in part because of a high basketball IQ.

“(His past basketball experiences) all provide an experience for me that I look forward to sharing with our players, and helping us re-establish the championship culture that exists in the DNA of this organization and this city,” Fisher said

  1. honkerdawg - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Losers are losers and so long as you have me first players on your foster that’s what they’ll be

    • jcmeyer10 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      But maybe, just maybe, Fish can get to the young bucks (Shump and Hardaway Jr.) and in a year or two as the roster can be cleaned up, he can have those kids be the leaders.

      There is not much hope for next year but this hire isn’t about next year.

  2. honkerdawg - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Meant roster

  3. chargerdillon - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Congrats to Derek Fisher. Having watched his whole career this is one of the best team players to ever play the game. He was a cold blooded killer from the 3point line when it counted the most.

    Good luck Derek, you’re going to need it.

  4. jlaws007 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    I believe it was an innovative move, and one both Jackson & The Knick’s will be quite happy with. Someone above spoke of losers on the roster. Well, you can be certain that they will be gone during this renovation, and that Melo will look unbelievable in the triangle offense. We have SEEN that he will play defense, and be the hardest working player on the team !! Once the PG position is settled I believe in my heart that we/The Knicks will be contenders this next year…..Some people really underestimate some of the talent we have on the roster !! Tyson Chandler won the defensive player of the year, and the next J.R. won 6th man of the year, and OH WAIT, Carmelo won the scoring championship too !! No talent ?? Pssshhhh

  5. majorhavoc83 - Jun 10, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    I think this was a great hire by the Knicks. As for the roster issues, this year isn’t going to be great. Fisher will be learning the job and a number of players are in their final year of their contract (e.g., Stoudemire, Chandler, Bargnani, etc – and who knows about Melo?). I don’t expect a lot from the Knicks this coming season. That said, when 2015 rolls around, I fully expect them to use the cap space they’ll have to acquire some younger talent. The timing will be good. Fisher will have a year under his belt and the Knicks will be able to bring on fresh talent. I think this could work out in the long run.

  6. majorhavoc83 - Jun 10, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    Oh. One other thought. Kenny “The Jet” Smith made a good point on Mike & Mike this morning. To paraphrase, he said something along the lines of. “If we were talking about IBM and Derek Fisher was a 18 year employee that got promoted to management, no one would have an issue. People would say he has tons of experience. Meanwhile, in the NBA, everyone just focuses on the lack of coaching experience without factoring in all the years of playing experience, championships and working with fantastic coaches in his career!”

    I think he’s spot on with those comments!

    • deadeyedesign23 - Jun 11, 2014 at 12:18 AM

      I actually don’t think Fish is a bad hire, but that’s not really a coherent metaphor. A more accurate one would be a person at IBM having 18 years experience as an accountant and then being hired as the CTO. It’s not really the same career path.

    • bkbell3 - Jun 11, 2014 at 3:12 AM

      And yet where was the Jet saying this when Kerr got the same kind of job. Also being, say an machinist, for 18 years doesn’t mean you can manage people. I think Fisher will do a good job but where is the out cry for yet another former player with zero exp. getting over paid because he used his connections to get the job like Kerr. AND who else was bidding for Fishers services unlike the 2-3 teams that were after Kerr? What’s different in this situation? Let’s see Kerr,a white guy was replacing a black guy and getting paid much more.{ I also think Jackson should of gotten another year to see what he could do} In NY a black guy with the same exp. as Kerr was replacing a black guy and getting paid much more than the out going coach. So where is all the out cry and the talk of racism? smh

  7. mackcarrington - Jun 10, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    I thought that press conference was just a bunch of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah.
    In October no one will remember one blah, blah word of it.

  8. dablakdrphil - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    Long term this is good for the Knicks. Derek Fisher helped us win some championships in LA and were forever thankful for that. I wish him well as a coach and I think he will excel as a coach. He has nothing to work with this upcoming season regardless if Melo resigns or not so I know it will be rough but going forward I think he will be great to run the Triangle

  9. JT - Jun 11, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    Fisher will help the Knicks get back on track they just have to shed these bad contracts, that will take time.
    Melo probably gone too.

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