Former NBA stars Walt Frazier, Shaquille O’Neal and John Starks approve of the Knicks hiring David Fizdale as their new head coach.
Frazier, Starks and O’Neal appeared at BTIG’s 16th annual Commissions for Charity Day on Tuesday.
Frazier and Starks, former Knicks guards, believe Fizdale could be the man to turn the franchise around.
“He’s well respected,” Frazier said. “What I like is that he’s a defensive coach and that’s the quick fix for the Knicks. No matter what players they accumulate, they have to play defense. I wear these [championship] rings every day and they came from tenacious defense.”
Starks also described Fizdale, the former Grizzlies head coach and Heat assistant coach, as “respected,” and painted a brighter picture of next season for the Knicks. Fizdale worked for Pat Riley, a former Knicks coach, in Miami.
“I like the work he did,” Starks said. “I think it was a good choice. They had a lot of candidates that we could’ve pulled from and settled on David. I know one thing about him — he comes from the Pat Riley school of coaching, and so we should look for some great things to come from this team next year.”
O’Neal, who played for six teams in his Hall of Fame career and now works as an NBA analyst for TNT, also noted Fizdale’s connection to Riley.
“I like Fiz,” O’Neal said. “He’s a young guy, he has a great mentality and he’s going to help bring the Pat Riley culture back to New York.”
O’Neal, however, was quick to note that the Knicks’ fate is primarily with franchise star Kristaps Porzingis, who is slated to miss at least part of the upcoming season after undergoing ACL surgery.
“Don’t get hurt, step your game up and accept the challenge,” O’Neal said of Porzingis. “It’s a beautiful city and everyone wants to win. You have the potential to make it happen.”
Frazier, the Hall of Famer and current Knicks color commentator on the Madison Square Garden Network, said the Knicks will have to learn to improve without Porzingis. Frazier even said he doesn’t “see him playing next season.”
“They might sit him out,” he said. “They had mentioned 10 months [of recovery], so that’s somewhere around January, February. Unless the Knicks are in the playoff hunt, I don’t see them bringing him back next year.”