Former Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher was officially introduced as the New York Knicks head coach on June 10. Fisher, who was introduced by team president Phil Jackson at the Knicks practice facility in Greenburgh, N.Y., believes that he has more than enough experience to succeed on the bench and help end the franchise’s 41-year championship drought.
“I am experienced,” the 39-year-old Fisher said. “Basketball is a game that I am experienced in playing, understanding, leading in, guiding in, helping another group of people achieve the greatest gift in the world as a professional athlete, and that’s being a champion.
Fisher takes over the Knicks a season after they fell, through injuries and dysfunction, to a 37-45 record. Jackson fired Mike Woodson as coach and was jilted by his first coaching choice, Steve Kerr, who took the Warriors’ job.
The Knicks did not release the contract details but according to reports Fisher and the team were working on finalizing a five-year, $25 million dollar deal.
So will Fisher be able to deliver on his promise, before the fans and media drive him out of New York?
Yes, Fisher is an experienced in basketball having played in the NBA for 17-years for several clubs — Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks – and is a five-time NBA champion. But he has no coaching experience at any level.
More importantly the Knicks have a lot of roster and money issues that will take a year or two to straighten out. New York currently is on the hook for over $90 million in salaries for the upcoming season – if players that are eligible to opt-out choose not to and players with options are exercise
However, the most daunting task will be to convince Carmelo Anthony to not exercise the opt-out clause in his contract and re-sign with the team long-term. Anthony, who has one-year left on his contract, is scheduled to make $23.3 million next season. Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4 million) and Andreas Bargnani ($16.4 million) can also exercise opt-out clauses.
Toure Murry has a team option valued at $1.01 million while Jeremy Tyler’s ($948,163) contract is not guaranteed. Cole Aldrich and Kenyon Martin are unrestricted free agents.
To further complicate matters, Raymond Felton — who may be dealing with legal issues and the Knicks are trying to trade – and J.R. Smith – who on June 11 said he did not want to come off the bench this season – have two years left on their contracts.
2015-2016 may be the year the Knicks can think about contending for a title. New York will only have $13.3 million possibly tied up in salaries – dependent on what Carmelo Anthony does – as long as they don’t go on a spending spree this offseason (via trade or if they come up with extra cash).
As of right now, the Knicks have just six players scheduled to earn a paycheck from them next season. Felton and Smith have player options. Pablo Prigioni’s contract is not guaranteed and the Knicks hold options on Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Thinking of a quick fix, the Knicks don’t have a first round selection this year and their only valuable assets are Hardaway and maybe Shumpert, though he had a disappointing season last year.