The New York Knicks fired coach David Fizdale on Friday afternoon, and it didn't take long for coaches from around the NBA to weigh in on the move, show support for Fizdale, and suggest that the Knicks' issues lie elsewhere.
"I don't know where the decision was made to fire Coach Fizdale, but if it came from the top, it's a case of mistaken identity," San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said of the firing. "He's a fine, talented young coach with a great pedigree, and it's ridiculous to think you're gonna bring a young guy in and after being there a minute and a half, you expect him to fix everything that's been wrong there for a long time. That's pretty unfair. So, it's the old analogy: he got thrown under the bus. He'll come out of it because he's a great coach."
Fizdale was the Knicks sixth different head coach since 2010, and at one point in time, Steve Kerr was considering taking the job, before he ultimately became the head coach of the Golden State Warriors instead. It's safe to say that Kerr is happy with the decision that he made.
"If I had gone to New York that would have been me like three years ago,'' Kerr said when asked about Fizdale's firing, via the New York Post. "I'm well aware of that. So I think I made the right choice... I'm a big fan of David — he's a helluva coach. As we know in this business, it's fragile. Your job is dependent on a lot of things. The talent you coach, but just as important, the strength of the organization and group around you. It takes a really strong organization to help coaches and players get through difficult times."
One coach that is particularly close with Fizdale is Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, as Fizdale served as an assistant under Spoelstra in Miami for several seasons and won two NBA championships on the Heat's bench. Unsurprisingly, Spoelstra agreed with Popovich's assessment that Fizdale wasn't given enough time to really make something happen in New York.
"It's disappointing. I'm bummed about it," Spoelstra said, via the Miami Herald. "Fiz obviously is someone very dear to me. I just think he's an extremely talented coach... They had a very good coaching staff up there. Things just take time in this league. It's really unfortunate they they weren't given the time to really do some work. There's a lot of rolling up your sleeves that has to be done there and you have to build a foundation and build a culture and standards and that's tough to do when you don't have time."
Fizdale isn't blameless in the Knicks struggles this season, but he certainly wasn't the only reason that the team sunk to the bottom of the Eastern Conference almost immediately, and it's clear that his coaching peers around the league recognize that.