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Malusis: Fizdale hire for nothing if Knicks can't get talent

Metro columnist Marc Malusis explains why it really doesn't matter who the Knicks hired as their new head coach.
David Fizdale. (Photo: Getty Images)

So the Knicks made it official last week as they have now ushered in the David Fizdale era. But does it really matter? This is not a knock on Fizdale as a head coach and what he can potentially provide the Knicks at the position. He had success as an assistant and also had success in Memphis as the lead man before that train went off the tracks. What I mean is this: It does not really matter all that much at this point who the head coach of the Knicks is if they do not improve the talent level of the team. 

Let’s face facts, star players win in the NBA. It is simple as that and if you don’t have them you will not achieve any sustained success in the NBA.  Even Norman Dale needed Jimmy Chitwood to rejoin the Hickory basketball team before they could win the Indiana state championship in the movie ‘Hoosiers.’ I know, I know it is just a movie. But the movie substantiates the point at hand which is that a good head coach plays a role, but they are not miracle workers and you need the talent to win. 

If the Knicks do not improve their roster and ‘hit’ on their first-round draft choice in the NBA Draft in June, David Fizdale will ultimately fail. Yes, he connects well with players not named Marc Gasol, which led to his firing with the Grizzlies. Yes, he has a modern look at the NBA game and has the ability to adjust and adapt to his players. Yes, he is a good communicator and should be able to handle the New York marketplace.

He is a skilled coach and has a great personality and should have a vision for this organization moving forward as long as he is able to execute his plan. However, the NBA is a players league and even as good of a coach as Fizdale is, he can only do so much if the talent is not in place. The Knicks need to build a championship caliber roster before free agents are willing to come. The Philadelphia 76ers knew this under Sam Hinkie and that is how ‘The Process’ began in Philadelphia. Now the 76ers are loaded with young talent and are staring at sustained NBA success. 

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Let’s just take a look at the argument that some have made that star NBA players will come to MSG to play for Fizdale. I say it is time to get the boots on because that is complete nonsense. It is great that he is friends with LeBron James after having served as an assistant coach with Miami under Eric Spoelstra when James spent his ‘college’ days in South Florida.  

Good for Fizdale that he built that relationship, fantastic.

But it does not mean that it will help him recruit players to MSG. Quite frankly, in the end, it does not mean much of anything at all. They will come if the Knicks are a championship-caliber team or if they overpay just like the organization did when they brought in Amar’e Stoudemire, which had good success in the first year, but not so much after that. 

For Fizdale, congrats on the new job and welcome to one of the more popular and dysfunctional franchises in the NBA. This experience will be like nothing you have gone through before. Hopefully, Knicks owner James Dolan stays out of the way. Hopefully, Steve Mills and Scott Perry will get you the talent that you need to be successful. Be happy that the Knicks finally parted ways with assistant coach Kurt Rambis. Here is hoping that Kristaps Porzingis is able to stay healthy when he returns from a torn ACL. 

In the last 17 years, the Knicks have had 11-different head coaches. David Fizdale is the 12th.

Good luck because as history has shown that might be the only thing you can count on from Knicks management. Fizdale is more than deserving of this opportunity. At some point, you would think the Knicks fortunes would change for the better, but Knicks fans have been saying that for a long time. Maybe David Fizdale can change everything. He needs players in order to do that.

Miracles are in the King James Bible, not at MSG.