David Fizdale on LeBron James Signing with Knicks: 'That's so Far Off Limits'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2018

Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) reacts as he listens to assistant coach David Fizdale near the end of the fourth quarter of Game 3 against the Boston Celtics in the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals, in Boston on Friday, June 1, 2012. The Celtics won 101-91. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

The New York Knicks may be taking steps to try to sign LeBron James, but don't expect new head coach David Fizdale to talk about it.

"I can't talk about none of that stuff," he told ESPN Radio's Michael Kay on Tuesday night when asked if he'll be able to secure James' signature in free agency (h/t Marc Berman of the New York Post). "That's so far off limits. All I'm talking about is these guys right now. We have so much work to do before free agency."

Last week, Berman reported the Knicks "are prepared to open salary-cap space this summer" to take a run at signing James, however unlikely the chances might be.

Part of the issue in attracting James or any other free agent is the Knicks are in rebuilding mode, and their one franchise cornerstone, Kristaps Porzingis, will miss time in the 2018-19 season after tearing his ACL this year.

Fizdale recognizes as much.

"[Free agents] are not just going to go there to live in New York City," he acknowledged. "You're going there to be in a culture. When you start showing that through action, players are going to come. New York is a special place."

Fizdale does have one advantage when it comes to James, however. He has a good relationship with the superstar dating back to his time as an assistant coach with the Miami Heat.

Both James and Dwyane Wade were supportive of Fizdale when the Memphis Grizzlies fired him in late November:

DWade @DwyaneWade

I need answers!!! WTF https://t.co/z39oNRQok0

LeBron James @KingJames

I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy

"I can't put a price tag on that," Fizdale said of that support. "They care about you so much, they're going to come out publicly when you're fired whether they know the whole story or not. They just know I'm a heckuva guy and a good coach."

Fizdale has also taken ownership for his departure in Memphis, which undoubtedly came in part because of a rocky relationship with star Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies let him go just 19 games into the 2017-18 season after a 7-12 start.

Fizdale said during his introductory press conference that other factors played a part in his departure as well:

"We had some moments I pushed too hard. I probably should've done more research and spent more time to getting to know the person, knowing what ticks and what doesn’t tick and how to get through to him. We had some good moments. It wasn’t like he played like a slouch.

"I took what I learned from that and other things I did wrong. I did a lot of things wrong. I was a rookie coach. I screwed up timeouts, when to call time outs. I made bad subs. … I don't want to blame [Gasol] for getting me fired. I don’t think that's fair."

Establishing a better relationship with Porzingis will be one of his most important goals in New York. And in doing so, he may open the door for other free agents to join the Knicks, even if it remains unlikely James will be heading to the Big Apple this summer.


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