"I don't know where the decision was made to fire Coach Fizdale, but if it came from the top, it's a case of mistaken identity. He's a fine, talented young coach with a great pedigree, and it's ridiculous to think you're gonna bring a young guy in and after being there a minute and a half, you expect him to fix everything that's been wrong there for a long time. That's pretty unfair. So, it's the old analogy: he got thrown under the bus. He'll come out of it because he's a great coach."
Fizdale went 17-65 last season and was off to a 4-18 start in 2019-20, but the Knicks were never expected to contend this season. They missed out on free agents such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and didn't even win the NBA draft lottery to land Zion Williamson.
It is impossible to miss Popovich's suggestion Fizdale was thrown under the bus and not the reason things have "been wrong" for such a long time. Owner James Dolan hasn't exactly built a franchise of consistent winning, as New York hasn't been to the playoffs since the 2012-13 season.
Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports noted Jeff Van Gundy and Mike D'Antoni are the only head coaches to keep their jobs three seasons in New York since Pat Riley left in 1995.
Fizdale joins the list of coaches fired early in their Knicks tenure, although he at least knows he has the support of one of the all-time greats.