David Fizdale has no “ill feelings” toward the Knicks and understands that management had to make a tough decision to part ways with him last month.
The former Knicks coach appeared on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo” show Wednesday morning, marking the first time he has spoken publicly since being relieved of his duties on Dec. 6.
“That’s the business we’ve chosen,” Fizdale said. “Obviously, they had to make a tough decision. I respect those guys greatly. I miss the hell out of them…all of the players and staff and guys like that. But that’s our business. At the time we were 4-18 and they had to make a tough decision.”
From the time that Fizdale was hired the Knicks made efforts to paint team president Steve Mills, general manager Scott Perry and Fizdale as a team, all on the same page. But 10 games into this season, after an embarrassing performance at Madison Square Garden against the Cavaliers, Mills and Perry stepped to the microphone ahead of Fizdale and expressed their disappointment with where the team was.
It served as the start of a ticking clock on Fizdale’s tenure. In Fizdale’s final two games as coach, the Knicks lost to the Bucks, 132-88, and the Nuggets, 129-92. The Knicks trailed by 47 in Milwaukee against the Bucks and 43 against the Nuggets at Madison Square Garden.
“I have no ill feelings toward the situation,” Fizdale said. “I understand that this is our business. I obviously learned a ton from it and I was just really grateful to have that opportunity, to be able to say I was the head coach of the New York Knicks.”
Fizdale finished his tenure with the Knicks with a 21-83 record, a .202 winning percentage. He was in the second season of a four-year, $22 million contract.
In Fizdale’s first season, the Knicks went 17-65 and got the No. 3 pick in the lottery. They used that pick to select Duke’s RJ Barrett, a guard who is averaging 13.9 points in 36 games — all starts — this season.
The Knicks had cap space for two max contracts in free agency last summer but did not sign any of the big-name stars. Instead, the Knicks signed several veterans, mostly to one-year deals. The Knicks’ biggest contract of the summer went to power forward Julius Randle, who agreed to a three-year deal worth $63 million.
The Knicks got off to a 1-7 start under Fizdale this season but got a big road win in Dallas against the Mavericks and former Knick Kristaps Porzingis on Nov. 8 to move to 2-7. Fizdale’s final win as Knicks coach came on Nov. 18, a 123-105 win over the Cavaliers at the Garden. The Knicks then lost eight straight games, leading to Fizdale’s dismissal.
“When you’re talking about a rebuild with the Knicks, I think the toughest part about New York City and Madison Square Garden is the patience level,” Fizdale said. “It’s a team that’s struggled for a long time and I think the fans really want to get that thing going as soon as possible.
“It’s unique from that standpoint because there’s other places that you can take your time a little more and build it a little more slowly. At Madison Square Garden, it’s a tougher environment and with the media market surrounding the team and all of the scrutiny that comes with it, it can put a lot of pressure on the people in the building.”
Mike Miller took over for Fizdale as interim coach and is 6-9.
“I really think they’re on the right track,” Fizdale said of the Knicks. “They got a lot of young talent, a ton of cap space, and they got great people under the roof. I just think that it’s a matter of time before it all comes together.”