It seems the search for a head coach is over as far as the New York Knicks are concerned, making Derek Fisher their new man in charge which also effectively ends his playing career after playing in the NBA for 18 seasons.
Phil Jackson has been looking to hire someone he has worked with before, preferably a young or even rookie head coach; someone he could mentor. Steve Kerr was his first option, but after Kerr chose to go coach the Golden State Warriors, Fisher was next in line. It was only a matter of convincing him to retire and take the Knicks job, something Jackson hinted at through the media which cost him $25,000, fined by the league.
Fisher will sign a five-year deal worth $25 million. Despite being a five-time NBA champion, all while playing under Jackson as his head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, Fisher has never made a lot of money. His playoff heroics are duly noted, but he has never been a special scoring talent that earned him big contracts. He earned $4.73 million combined over the last three seasons and made $5 million just four times in his 18 seasons as a player.
The Knicks will announce the hiring through a press conference, so at the moment this is only something confirmed by sources. Fisher will be the 26th head coach of the Knicks since the franchise started its NBA days, and the 8th since Jeff Van Gundy left the team in 2001. Fisher will now move on to fill the assistant positions, as Jackson fired Mike Woodson along with his entire supporting cast when the season ended.
The Knicks are coming off a bad season – they won just 37 games, missing the playoffs for the first time since Carmelo Anthony joined the team. Anthony might not stay on board with an option to opt out of his contract. The roster doesn’t have cap space to work with, and very little talent to be hopeful about. That is more of a problem for Jackson in how to rebuild this team, but Fisher, a rookie head coach, will be the one who has to handle the day to day problems of an expensive and right now not so impressive squad.
Who will be there to help him? It looks like Jackson is assembling or hoping to bring over other players that he joined forced with in the past. Bill Cartwright has interviewed for a position on the staff, and so have Luke Walton, Ron Harper, Kurt Rambis and Jim Cleamons. There have been rumors suggesting Patrick Ewing might finally go back to the Knicks in some sort of capacity, although Ewing was probably hoping to be given the head coaching job.
Fisher played for the Oklahoma City Thunder over the last couple of season and also in the 2012 NBA finals after fooling Mark Cuban into releasing him. He spent most of his career from 1996 to 2012 with the Los Angeles Lakers, with three seasons as a Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz player in between. He was part of all five Lakers championships from 2000 to 2010 next to Kobe Bryant.