Report: David Fizdale Turned Down Multiple Teams Without Assurance of Knicks Job

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2019

Knicks head coach David Fizdale gestures in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Nets win 103-101. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin).
Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

David Fizdale, who was fired by the New York Knicks last week after just 104 games as head coach, turned down multiple coaching offers in 2018 as he sought to secure the Knicks job.

According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Fizdale declined offers from the Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Hornets, and he did not engage with the Milwaukee Bucks even though they had "serious interest" in discussing their opening with him.

Fizdale turned down those opportunities even though the Knicks had given no assurances that they would hire him, per Shelburne.

After Fizdale spent several years as a highly regarded assistant with the Miami Heat, the Memphis Grizzlies hired him as their head coach in 2016. He went 43-39 in his first season and led Memphis to the playoffs but was fired following a 7-12 start the following year.

It seemed obvious Fizdale was entering a difficult situation in New York, but there was some reason for optimism.

The Knicks selected Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson in the 2018 NBA draft and had the cap space to land one or two big names in 2019 free agency, such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.

New York also had Kristaps Porzingis on the roster when it hired Fizdale, but in January, it traded him to the Dallas Mavericks.

After a 17-65 season, the Knicks struck out in free agency when Durant and Irving joined the Brooklyn Nets and Leonard opted to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Knicks didn't luck out in the 2019 draft lottery either and had to settle for the No. 3 pick, which they used on RJ Barrett. While Barrett has been one of their few bright spots this season, he isn't the immediate franchise-altering player they needed.

New York started 4-18 under Fizdale this season before the team fired him. He concluded his Knicks tenure at 21-83, a winning percentage of just .202.

The Hawks, Suns and Hornets are young teams going through growing pains, but they have all been more successful than the Knicks this season, and the 11-12 Suns hold the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

There is no guarantee Fizdale would have landed the Bucks' head coaching job had he gone after it, but Milwaukee reached the Eastern Conference Finals behind NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo last season, and they are tied for the NBA's best record this year at 21-3.

In hindsight, based on how things played out in the Big Apple, Fizdale's choice to pursue the Knicks opening was a misguided one.

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