David Fizdale to Meet with Kristaps Porzingis in Latvia After Knicks Hiring

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2018

FILE - In this April 25, 2017, file photo, Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale directs his players during the first half of Game 5 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio. A person with knowledge of the details said Thursday, May 3, 2018, that the New York Knicks have agreed to hire Fizdale as their new coach. The former Grizzlies coach will replace Jeff Hornacek, who was fired last month after two seasons. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

David Fizdale, who was named the new head coach of the New York Knicks on Thursday, will travel to Latvia to meet with superstar Kristaps Porzingis soon, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Per that report, Fizdale "was New York's primary target from the start of the search process."

Fizdale, 43, went 50-51 in parts of two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies but was fired after just 19 games and a 7-12 start this past campaign. Wojnarowski noted, "Fizdale's poor relationship with All-Star center Marc Gasol played a significant role in his dismissal."

Maintaining a strong relationship with Porzingis will be key in New York. 

As Ian Begley of ESPN.com wrote, "A little more than 12 months ago, Porzingis skipped his exit meeting with [then-vice president Steve] Mills and then-president Phil Jackson due to frustration with the franchise. The relationship hasn't been fully repaired."

He added that "what is clear is that the relationship between player and franchise is at a crossroads. Maybe a little face time with Fizdale can help move things in the right direction."

Porzingis, 22, is the future of the Knicks. The young superstar averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in the 2017-18 season, with an ACL tear cutting his season short. He's also eligible for a five-year, $157 million contract extension this summer.

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Nothing in New York is more important than Fizdale establishing a solid rapport and working relationship with Porzingis. With the Unicorn, the Knicks are a young team with playoff aspirations and a franchise centerpiece to build around.

Without him, the Knicks are a team once again mired in a complete rebuild with no superstars. Putting Porzingis in a position to succeed on the court and repairing his relationship with the Knicks after the disastrous Jackson years should absolutely be a priority for the team's new head coach.

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