Tag: LeBron James

David Fizdale: The Player’s Coach

Learning the ropes as an Assistant Head Coach in the NBA isn’t always easy, but being able to do so under Erik Spoelstra and a Miami Heat team that won two championships in four years from 2010 to 2014  made it that much easier for David Fizdale. Among players in the league, Fizdale is known as a humble, personable coach who actually cares about his players’ best interest both on and off the court. Chris Bosh, one of Fizdale’s former players and a member of the “Big 3” with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, is extremely appreciative of Fizdale’s style and coaching abilities.

Fizdale received such high praise and recognition from around the league that he began to make a name for himself and was hired by the Memphis Grizzlies as their head coach for the 2016-17 season. Leading the team to a 43-39 record and a playoff berth, players like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley loved the culture and attitude that he brought and ultimately embedded into the organization. In Conley’s case, he signed the NBA’s biggest contract (five-year / $153 million) to date during the summer in the free agency before Fizdale was hired.

Conley articulated how grateful he is for Fizdale’s impact on his playing career. After signing such a huge contract, Fizdale was able to unlock parts of his game that allowed him to be worth the over $30 million per year that the Grizzlies were giving him. Unfortunately, the start to the 2017-18 season was not one that the Grizzlies had expected, starting the year with a 7-14 record which led the Grizzlies to cut the cord quickly on Fizdale. On the other hand, this opened the door for his opportunity with the New York Knicks where he resides today. Having the 3rd youngest team in the league with an average age of 24.6 and their franchise player still sidelined with an ACL injury, Fizdale’s task as the Knicks’ leader would definitely not be an easy one, and his main objective would be to develop the young players rather than attempting to make a playoff push. As Fizdale put it a few days ago:

“It’s about, are these guys staying in the trench to get better every single day? That’s our focus. We know the win-loss category is going to change when we become a better basketball team. So we’re not putting all our stock in wins and losses right now and our group understands that.”

Developing over winning is a tough motto to resonate with, but Fizdale’s track record has proven that he is up for the task and is in it for the players and their development as young men and NBA players. Although he has yet to subtweet Joel Embiid’s infamous “Trust the Process” quote, Fizdale is definitely embracing the process and understands that the Knicks are a project, one that may take years to come to fruition.

 

Featured Image via Flickr/ Michael Tipton

Knicks Fans Can Cross Kyrie Irving Off Their Wish List

The Knicks have made it known that they want to make a big splash in 2019 free agency as the team is expected to have plenty of cap room. There are several high profile stars who they planned on pursuing, a list that had Kyrie Irving at the top.

This dream appears to be dead as Irving has announced his intention to re-sign with the Boston Celtics this offseason.

Irving is a member of one of the most storied franchises in NBA history, and bringing a championship to Boston would solidify his elite status. Former Celtics standout Paul Pierce agrees with this assertion, saying, “I think that’s a legacy decision and for him to see the potential of that team moving forward in Boston,” Pierce said. “Winning a championship in Boston is different than winning one in Cleveland. He will be immortalized if he wins in Boston.”

Kyrie is a 5-time All-Star and a former All-NBA selection and would have undoubtedly helped the Knicks make another trip to the playoffs. However, this clearly is out of the question after declaring his allegiance to the C’s.

So what’s next for the Knicks?

With Kyrie out of the picture, the Knicks will have all hands on deck to go after Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler. Although several skeptics around the NBA believe this is only a pipedream, the fact of the matter is that New York has a legitimate shot at both of these premier players.

Durant has already won two championships with Golden State and may decide to leave the team to improve his image. The Knicks are a possible destination simply because of the allure the franchise offers. Madison Square Garden is one of the most electrifying arenas in the league and is in the center of the greatest city in the world. This is the same reason that LeBron went to the Lakers. Playing in a big-time city where basketball is at the heart of the city’s culture is a great experience, to say the least. Also, KD’s longtime business partner/agent Rich Kleiman is based on New York and is big Knicks fan, along with Durant’s father.

As for Jimmy Butler, he has expressed a degree of interest in coming to New York. A few weeks ago, Butler formally requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves and gave the organization a list of his three preferred destinations, one being the Knicks. He would add the defensive pedigree that the team has been lacking for several years and would fit in nicely with Fizdale’s offensive system.

Although losing out on Kyrie is a big blow, there are plenty of other viable options to revitalize the Mecca of basketball.

Damian Lillard Could Be Eyeing Trade to Knicks

The Portland Trail Blazers have struggled to make noise in the postseason for a long time. Since the arrival of Damian Lillard, who has propelled them to the playoffs in each of his last five seasons, they have yet to make it past the Western Conference Semifinals, and that likely isn’t going to change.

In the current climate of NBA basketball, stars are flocking to already established organizations to increase their chances of winning a championship, and Portland isn’t on the list of desired destinations. In this day in age, no NBA superstar is going to bypass the opportunity to win a ring to join Rip City in a conference that is already stacked with talent. With that being said, it is more than likely that the Blazers will take action to begin the rebuilding process in hopes of being a relevant franchise one day. To accommodate this, it seems as though Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is the most likely to be dealt as he is by far the most valuable asset that this team has to offer.

The only question is: Where could he be traded to?

According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, “Damian Lillard, even though he loves Portland, wouldn’t mind being in L.A. but even more so wouldn’t mind being in New York.”

Lillard has often been overlooked during his stellar NBA career. He was snubbed of two NBA All-Star Games in 2016 and 2017, seasons in which he averaged 25.1 and 27 points per game, respectively. The fact that he prefers to be dealt to LA or New York tells us that he is looking to break that vicious cycle. These cities are the two biggest markets that the NBA has to offer and playing for either team would bring much more attention to his game than Portland ever did.

Dame is a top talent in this league, and its time he is recognized by the entire NBA community as such. Lillard is a former Rookie of the Year, a three-time NBA All-Star, and has been named to three All-NBA teams including being selected to the All-NBA First Team last season. Just to put into perspective how much of an honor this is, the only other players to receive such recognition in 2018 were LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and James Harden.

Bringing Lillard to New York would come at a hefty price, likely costing the organization several young players and draft picks, but acquiring Dame could be an opportunity that the Knicks front office needs to seize to take over the Eastern Conference.

 

Featured Image via Google Images/Wikimedia Commons