Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images
Biggest Challenge: Implementing a system and culture
Coaching the New York Knicks is a massive undertaking for Derek Fisher. Not just because he's new to this, or because the Knicks approached new levels of disappointing last season, but because he's tasked with purging the franchise of systematic stagnancy.
Installing Phil Jackson's famed triangle won't be easy. Some of the personnel fits—Carmelo Anthony, for instance. But the Knicks' roster is a blend of youngsters expected to play big roles (Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr., Cleanthony Early, etc.) and veterans who don't fit the mold of a rebuilding club (Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Jose Calderon).
Making the playoffs isn't out of the question, but the Knicks' offense will have to run smoothly—better than last year, when it ranked 11th in efficiency. They aren't built to defend; anything less than an outstanding offense could leave them lusting after pingpong balls next June.
Triangular perfection doesn't come that easily, though. "Anthony and the Knicks deserve some time to figure this out," NBC Sports' Kurt Helin writes. "The triangle offense takes a little while to learn, and a roster that is likely to see more upheaval is not going to make that process easier."
Time is not something Fisher has a lot of. Missing the postseason won't play well when the Knicks are recruiting marquee free agents in 2015. They could use a playoff berth to reinforce whatever they're selling. And then there's the whole Anthony-guaranteeing-a-postseason-appearance thing.
"Yeah, I think so for sure," he said when asked if the Knicks would return to the playoffs next year, per the New York Post's Fred Kerber. "Absolutely.”
Any return to the playoffs will start with a dominant offense; any dominant offense will materialize through some version of the triangle. Fisher must implement said system—that which is complex because of its chameleon-like, adapt-on-the-fly versatility—quickly.
Next season's redemption, as well as New York's foundation for the future, depends on it.