BEAVERTON, Ore. — Mike Miller completed his first practice as Knicks interim head coach Sunday afternoon, albeit a light workout after the team flew cross country and prepped to play Portland on Tuesday.
The team issued a joint statement thanking former coach David Fizdale for his service and one from Fizdale giving thanks for the opportunity — 48 hours after issuing a one-line release that Fizdale was being relieved of his duties.
The statement, not attributed to any executive, read, “The New York Knicks organization would like to thank David Fizdale for his leadership and professionalism over the past two seasons. He represented the organization with nothing but class. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
If that seemed awkward, it at least was better treatment than Fizdale received after his last practice session on Friday: He was out. And the Knicks likely can get to work on the wording for the next one because there is a belief around the league that there could be a major housecleaning coming.
While team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry had Fizdale on notice after 10 games when they were pushed to speak about their disappointment with the team’s performance, the Knicks are 2-11 since that time, and potential front-office replacements have been bandied about.
Miller steps into his first NBA head-coaching assignment and is in a no-win situation. He is tasked with showing his value to a team at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, one that a league source indicated could be trading off pieces in the coming months, starting with Dec. 15, the date that free agents signed this past summer can be dealt.
Despite the struggles on the court and the near-constant chaos off it, the Knicks’ job is not an unattractive one to a front-office executive, thanks to the draft picks over the next few years and the absence of long-term albatross contracts. But the next executive will have to be better at recruiting and retaining talent.
And for a coach, the Knicks still have a bankroll to lure a name. Some floated already: Mark Jackson, Jason Kidd, Kenny Smith and Jeff Van Gundy. Chauncey Billups is not expected to be interested but could draw interest, and even coaches with successful resumes such as Tom Thibodeau could get consideration.
Fizdale took the high road, as he did most days while serving as the face of a last-place team.
“Coaching the New York Knicks has been a great honor and I appreciate Steve Mills, Scott Perry and Jim Dolan for providing me with this opportunity,” Fizdale said in his statement. “There are lessons we take with us from every life experience and I am especially grateful for the lessons I have learned from the extraordinary group of people within the MSG family — from the players, coaches, development staff, and trainers to the arena crew, concession workers and ushers — who have all treated me and my family so well during our time with the team.
“Knicks fans’ passion and commitment is remarkable and while it is obviously disappointing that we couldn’t deliver the wins we wanted on the court, I am very proud that we were able to establish a system which values accountability, respect, and hard work. Although the short-term results weren’t what I hoped for, I’m confident the culture and values we prioritized will contribute to the growth and future success of the core young players who are already improving each and every day.
“I have been blessed with the chance to make a career around the game of basketball. I wish only the best to the entire Knicks organization and to the City of New York and I am excited about the journey that lies ahead.”