Skip to content

Hiring Derek Fisher was smart roll of dice by Phil Jackson

Jun 10, 2014, 8:45 AM EST

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. Rodney Stuckey says Pistons’ downward spiral began with Chauncey Billups trade

    Dec 27, 2014, 2:00 PM EST

    Chauncey Billups Chauncey Billups

    Stuckey says the trade robbed the locker room of accountability.

  2. Tobias Harris trash talked LeBron, then LeBron goes off, leads Cavs to win

    Dec 27, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Cleveland at Orlando Getty Images

    LeBron James was in “chill mode” and this team is vulnerable when he is.

  3. Rumor: Ray Allen leaning toward retirement, not return

    Dec 27, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    2014 NBA Finals - Game One Getty Images

    This option was always on the table for him, people around the NBA just never thought he’d choose it.

  4. Rumor: Heat to target Andray Blatche when he returns from Chinese team

    Dec 27, 2014, 7:59 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets - Game One Getty Images

    He won’t be available until February or March, the Heat may not want to wait that long.

  5. Josh Smith makes Rockets debut, throws down two-handed dunk (VIDEO)

    Dec 26, 2014, 9:45 PM EST

    Josh Smith Josh Smith

    Hopefully there are more of these and fewer threes.

  6. Michael Jordan’s message to Kobe Bryant: “Go get Karl”

    Dec 26, 2014, 4:29 PM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    At 25 points a game it would still take Kobe 182 games to catch Malone. That’s not likely.

  7. Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks: “The fans are dying, we’re dying”

    Dec 26, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    Washington Wizards v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Knicks fans are going to need to be patient, something New Yorkers have long been know for. *cough*

Featured video

Who will land Josh Smith?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (9247)
  2. K. Bryant (7636)
  3. K. Martin (7214)
  4. J. Smith (7091)
  5. C. Bosh (6807)
  1. K. Leonard (6750)
  2. Z. Randolph (6629)
  3. D. Williams (6300)
  4. T. Jones (6297)
  5. D. DeRozan (6008)