At the surface, you can almost feel bad for David Fizdale.
The former Knicks head coach — who was fired on Friday — was given the keys to a dysfunctional franchise that is broken at every joint, gear, and pulley from top to bottom.
An organization that spent $70 million in free agency over the summer went 4-18 in their first 22 games this season — further proving that upper management wasted their money on a roster that they thought would actually be an improvement from last year’s 17-65 dumpster fire of a campaign.
Fizdale certainly had his faults throughout his season-plus as the Knicks’ bench boss, but he had no chance to see the end of his four-year, $22 million contract with team president Steve Mills doing everything possible to get him fired.
So yes, it’s okay to feel bad for Fizdale. But at the same time, he’s now being paid to NOT coach the Knicks.
That’s a pretty sweet deal, too. Because this team has and will be a joke unless owner James Dolan stumbles upon some mind-altering revelation that discloses the secrets of successfully running an NBA franchise.
If there is a time for action for Dolan, though, it’s now. And his sights should be honed in on Steve Mills.
This man has somehow been able to stay with the Knicks for the past seven years despite being responsible for constructing this disaster.
Mills became the team’s executive VP and general manager in 2013 before being promoted to president in 2017 following the departure of Phil Jackson.
Do you know how many times the Knicks have made the playoffs since his arrival? Zero.
Do you know the Knicks’ record since his arrival? 167-348. That’s a .324 winning percentage.
It’s been abundantly clear for years that this guy doesn’t know how to build a contender and it finally looks like Dolan is realizing that.
The Athletic’s Frank Isola reported on Saturday that Mills is “finally on the hot seat.”
Reassigning or firing him would open the door for Dolan to get the front-office member of his dreams.
I’ll give Dolan this; he’s wanted to get the Toronto Raptors’ general manager to Madison Square Garden for some time now. Per Isola back in November, the Knicks owner is going to try once again to get him to New York.
Ujiri is responsible for building the Raptors into a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference— including a league title last season behind the one-year mercenary that was Kawhi Leonard. He knows how to piece together a legitimate team and keep them in the mix for an extended period of time. The Raptors have been in the playoffs every year since Ujiri arrived in 2013.
At this point, Knicks fans would take flirting with .500 before the playoffs. You have to learn to walk before you can run — but the Knicks are immobile as they are on pace to win fewer than 20 games for a second-straight season.
It doesn’t sound like the greatest gig, yet 49-year-old turned down a contract extension from Toronto last summer and would be “intrigued,” to take the Knicks job, according to Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck.
Granted, the money would have to be right and Dolan would have to be willing to fund Ujiri’s Giants of Africa project, which “educates and enriches the lives of African youth,” through basketball. But there should be no price too great to get this organization back on track.