Skip to content

Hiring Derek Fisher was smart roll of dice by Phil Jackson

Jun 10, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game One Getty Images

Knicks fans were going to be skeptical no matter who was hired to coach their team. In part because they’re New Yorkers and are skeptical of everything. In part it was because there was always the inkling of hope the $12 million a year Phil Jackson is getting paid meant he was going to coach New York,  too.

That was never going to happen, Jackson is done behind the bench. He said that again on Tuesday at Derek Fisher’s introductory press conference.

What Jackson is really getting $12 million a year to do is change the culture of the Knicks — this was an organization focused too much on right now, not on patience and not on sacrifice. Draft picks were moved for quick fixes, guys that got on the court and aged quickly. Jackson needed someone who could preach the triangle and ball movement, who could sell the team-first concept. Jackson is trying to change the Knicks culture in basketball operations top to bottom.

Which is where Derek Fisher is a good hire as coach in New York.

Yes, Fisher is a gamble, but a smart one to take. More than any other quality Jackson needed someone with the same philosophies, someone he fully trusted to be his extension on the court. Jackson was never coming down to the sidelines, but he needed someone who understood and could be evangelical about his philosophies. Fisher has bought into what Phil Jackson is selling, and now it is his turn to sell them on a team-first system, on sharing, moving off the ball — you know, like those two teams still playing do.

Fisher commands respect and can lead — he can walk into that room and talk about sacrificing parts of your game to make the team better. He can talk about playing within the system. He can cite examples from Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Durant and a host of other great players. He can show you the rings that it brings.

This gambe works whatever Carmelo Anthony decides to do next season. If he stays, to win the Knicks need Anthony to sacrifice parts of his game — to move the ball quickly and not have it stick, to be a good defender. Fisher knows about that. He can point to Kobe and others when he uses examples. If Anthony decides to bolt for wherever, Fisher can be part rebuilding the structures of this team on the court into a triangle unit.

Fisher can lead. They will put assistant coaches around him who can help with the Xs and Os, who can show Fisher how to properly set up a film session or the host of other little details that come with being an NBA coach. What Fisher can do is get people to listen to him and follow him.

Can Fisher coach? We will find out. If not he can be replaced in a couple years with someone who can. The money he is paid — $5 years, $25 million — can be shocking but it’s a pittance for the Knicks organization. The Knicks print money, spending it like this doesn’t matter to them like it does to 29 other teams.

What Fisher can do is lead. What Fisher does is buy into everything Phil Jackson is selling. He can get the players to buy in.

He can start to change the culture of the Knicks on the court.

And that is what Phil Jackson needed more than anything else.

That is why Derek Fisher was a good hire.

Dan Patrick Show: Kenny Smith endorses going straight from playing to coaching

Latest Posts
  1. PBT Extra: Expect a healthy Stephen Curry for Game 5… sorry Houston

    May 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Curry and this Warriors team are not going to crumble like the Clippers did.

  2. J.R. Smith takes selfie at podium after Cavaliers advance to Finals

    May 27, 2015, 2:02 AM EDT

    JR Smith Selfie

    J.R. Smith on the national stage of the Finals is going to be so much fun.

  3. Report: Hawks’ Paul Millsap may require offseason shoulder surgery

    May 26, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards-Game Three Getty Images

    Injury issues continue to pile up as Atlanta is on the verge of elimination.

  4. Storms in Houston forced Dwight Howard to remain at arena with fans until 2:30AM after Game 4 win over Warriors

    May 26, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Dwight Howard AP

    Severe flooding in the area had fans — and at least one player — stranded.

  5. Stephen Curry went through concussion protocol twice before returning to court

    May 26, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpti2yjjimja4ywnhyza4zdnjzti5mja0nzy1mjqzm2e2 AP

    Curry reported no symptoms after the game or on Tuesday, which means expect the regular Curry back for Game 5 Wednesday night.

  6. Report: Kyle Korver to have surgery on his ankle

    May 26, 2015, 6:17 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards - Game Six Getty Images

    There is no timeline but this could impact training camp and the start of next season.

  7. Jason Terry says he will play next season, his 17th in NBA

    May 26, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    Jason Terry AP

    If he’s used in the aging shooter role on the court and veteran locker room presence off it, bringing him back for another season for a few million makes sense.

  8. PBT Extra: Will Dwight Howard’s foul on Bogut be upgraded to a Flagrant 2? Should it?

    May 26, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four Getty Images

    Would the league really upgrade a foul and bench a star player in an elimination game?

  9. PBT Extra: Horford/Dellavedova incident ups tension in Hawks/Cavaliers Game 4

    May 26, 2015, 3:37 PM EDT

    Not that it will be enough to get the Hawks a win.

  10. Report: Nets to shop Joe Johnson, Jarrett Jack in effort to get under luxury tax line

    May 26, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    The Nets just do not have good rebuilding options going forward.

  11. Zach LaVine alley-oop dunking a football. Because he can. (VIDEO)

    May 26, 2015, 2:05 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    Minnesota’s Zach LaVine has spent the early part of his offseason working on increasing his vertical… wait, what?

Featured video

Will Klay Thompson get a little help on James Harden?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. S. Curry (6633)
  2. K. Irving (6633)
  3. K. Love (5761)
  4. L. James (4791)
  5. D. Howard (4634)
  1. D. Carroll (4267)
  2. K. Korver (3988)
  3. K. Bryant (3684)
  4. K. Durant (3482)
  5. A. Horford (3470)