GREENBURGH, N.Y. — David Fizdale does not see vultures circling. He doesn’t think Sunday night’s impromptu news conference by Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry is a sign that his job as coach is in immediate jeopardy. He lends even less credence to the ESPN report Monday that said Mills plans to use him as a fall guy.
One thing, though, is certain: Somebody has a false view of what’s going on with the Knicks.
Either it’s large swaths of the media and fan base, which saw Mills and Perry hold a news conference decrying the state of the team after an embarrassing home loss to the Cavaliers on Sunday and assumed Fizdale’s days were numbered.
Or it’s Fizdale, who walked over to Mills and Perry after practice Monday and shared a laugh. They spoke earlier that morning, too, he said, as they do almost every day, and the front-office duo watched practice from the little gallery adjacent to the courts.
“I’m not feeling that at all,” Fizdale said of the report. “I thought they’ve been very supportive to me.”
Asked if he received any further assurances, Fizdale said, “I’ve got a 2 1⁄2-year contract. That’s my assurance.”
Mills declined to comment on the ESPN report Monday, a day after giving his coach a tepid endorsement. “We still believe in our coaching staff,” he said then. “We believe in the plan Scott and I put together and the players that we assembled. But we also have to acknowledge that we haven’t played at the level we expected to play at.”
The Knicks are 2-8 after trading Kristaps Porzingis last season, freeing up cap space, and subsequently striking out on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who both signed with the Nets. They lack the franchise superstar so many other NBA teams build around and are bogged down by a glut of power forwards. Fizdale, though, said the roster is one that can win.
“I think any roster can [rise up],” he said. “There’s teams in this league that may not have a so-called superstar . . . I think about my old guys in Miami, who started off the season 11-30 and finished the season 30-11 [IN 2016-17]. I don’t know if we can do something like that and I don’t know if we’ll end up 11-30, but I know that if you stay with your habits and keep working hard together, good things can happen.”
Fizdale added that he and the front office are in constant communication, that Mills does not need to give him any public assurances and that he feels no added pressure.
“I own my crap,” Fizdale said. “This team is my responsibility. And if they’re not playing up to that level, that’s my responsibility . . . No one puts more pressure on me than me.”
Taj Gibson and RJ Barrett spoke after practice and gave their coach their vote of confidence.
“We said today, we’re not just going to let him take the full blame,” Gibson said. “It’s up to us to go out there and do what he wants us to do. We’re in this together . . . Fiz has been doing a lot for us. He’s an awesome coach. He does everything the right way, but we’ve just got to do a lot better as far as taking accountability, and that’s what [we’re going to do]. We’re owning this and we’re going to move forward from it.”
Added Barrett: “Everybody loves him. I love him personally . . . We believe what he has to say, and now we’ve just got to go out on the court and do it.”