In a word ... "embarrassing." And the Knicks' 2015-16 season has yet to begin.
This is a Knicks team that went 17-65 last year in which their franchise player, Carmelo Anthony, decided to shut it down for the season after starting and playing 30 minutes in the All-Star game. Anthony is healthy now, following knee surgery and has actually kept himself out of the headlines. Unfortunately, you can’t say that about his head coach Derek Fisher. Fisher got caught up in a love triangle this past week involving his ex-teammate Matt Barnes and Barnes’ estranged wife Gloria Govan. Now listen, people should be able to keep their private lives just that - private. However, there was an altercation between Barnes and Fisher at the home of Govan in Marina del Ray last Saturday after Barnes found out that Fisher was there and was concerned that his twin sons were still up at 10 pm. The situation escalated between Barnes and Fisher after Barnes arrived at the home.
This is not exactly the headline you want to be grabbing if you are the Knicks head coach. The Knicks just opened up training camp at West Point on Sept. 29.
We know that Fisher filed for divorce last spring and informed the Knicks that he was flying back to California to see his children last week. However, Fisher missed practice last Monday for personal reasons and the Knicks insist that he had equipment issues on his return flight, which caused Kurt Rambis to run Monday’s practice. Was there an altercation with Fisher and Barnes? Yes. Are the optics good that an NBA head coach is dating the ex-wife of a former teammate? No. Is there a concern about the commitment of Fisher? Yes.
Fisher was a smart and savvy NBA player that was a flat-out winner. He was never the best player on any team that he ever played, but always seemed to make winning plays to help his team come out on top. When the Knicks decided to pull him off the court and give him a 5-year, $25 million dollar contract to become the head coach, they knew they would have to be patient and allow him to grow into the position.
They never expected this. What they now get is drama that continues to define this organization as a circus. They still have an inexperienced head coach that is learning on the job. They also have a coach that needed to take time last week to explain to not only Phil Jackson but also his team what transpired in California. As smart as Fisher was as a player, how could he be this dumb as a coach? That is the troubling aspect to it.
At some point, he thought it was a good idea to start seeing the ex-wife of a former teammate that also happens to be one of the stars of a show called, “Basketball Wives: LA.” How could anyone think that would be a good idea?
If Barnes does not react the way he did, then we probably do not know any of this. But he did and we do. Now where do we go from here? Fisher will not get fired but I am sure that he is certainly embarrassed. I am not sure how it will affect his relationship with his team.
Phil Jackson has already gone on record that he will have a more active role this season and the Knicks have started the process of turning over the roster. But they have a long way to go before they are a contender in the Eastern Conference.
How committed to the work is Fisher? How hungry is he? You can certainly question his judgment on and off the court. Not exactly the way the Knicks wanted to bring in the fall.
Thanks, Derek. Cue the clowns!