David Fizdale. (Photo: Getty Images)

It was an extensive process with 11 candidates being interviewed, but the New York Knicks found their new head coach in David Fizdale, inking him to a four-year deal on Thursday night. 

 

He is the latest addition to a franchise attempting to move on from the Phil Jackson regime as current president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry attempt to build a franchise mired in mediocrity for much of the last two decades into a contender. 

 

Fizdale met with Knicks owner James Dolan on Thursday before entering negotiations with Mills and Perry, per ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski

 

While there were reports that David Blatt and Mike Budenholzer were two of the favorites for the job, sources informed Wojnarowski that Fizdale was the Knicks' top priority throughout the coaching search. 

 

The 43-year-old has been working in the NBA since 2003, mostly as an assistant with the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. In 2016, he was named head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies where he made the playoffs in his first season. 

 

Defense was Memphis' calling card under Fizdale, ranking third in the league with 100.0 points allowed per game and seventh in defensive efficiency. 

That kind of defensive mindset will be a welcomed addition to a Knicks team whose defense has been ranked 20th or worse in each of the last two seasons. 

But Fizdale was abruptly fired just 19 games into his second season with the Grizzlies this year after feuding with star player Marc Gasol. While that might be concerning incident, Fizdale has some notable supporters like Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who played under Fizdale while in Miami. Though James did admit that Fizdale won't "kiss nobody's ass."

Player relationships will be vital in rebuilding the Knicks, especially with Kristaps Porzingis. The 22-year-old Latvian star who will likely miss half of next season while recovering from a torn ACL will now be playing for his fourth coach in as many years and needs some semblance of stability if the Knicks want to see him fulfill his potential as a face of the franchise that can carry a team to postseason and championship contention.