The NY Knicks fired coach David Fizdale over the weekend. Last year, the Knicks were a league-worst 17-65; they had lots of cap space and money to offer free agents over the summer and wound up with none of the available ones that anyone else wanted. When Fizdale was fired, the Knicks were 4-18 and had lost 8 games in a row; this morning they are 4-19 having lost 9 games in a row and that is the NBA’s worst record.
That is a prima facie case indicating that Fizdale is a failure and the team certainly needs a “new voice in the room”. The key element of a prima facie case, however, is that it is a rebuttable case based on presumption. David Fizdale does not have a long coaching record; however, before his year and half with the Knicks, he was in Memphis where his record was 50-51 – with a playoff appearance. Looking at that data – and reviewing the Knicks current roster – I am not so sure that Fizdale has severely underachieved. For example, the Knicks are dead last in the NBA in free throw shooting; they make 67.5% of their free throws; the next-worst team makes 72.2%. Explain to me how that is David Fizdale’s fault…
When I look at the Knicks’ roster, I cannot bring myself to say that it is competitive at the NBA level – and the brazen fact is that David Fizdale is not the person ultimately responsible for the construction of that non-competitive roster. The way I see it, Fizdale is “taking the fall” for the GM, team president and team owner above him because they could not land any of the top-shelf free agents who were floating around in the basketball cosmos last summer.
The NY Knickerbockers won 17 games last season; I think they will struggle to win 25 games this year – even if the Ghost of Red Auerbach returns to Earth and assumes the coaching job in NY. Sorry Knicks’ fans but that’s how it is…
Since the Ghost of Red Auerbach is unlikely to materialize any time soon, who might be the candidates to take the job? Since the Knicks probably want a “splashy hire” to distract folks from examining that mélange of a roster, here are some “splashy names” in alphabetical order:
- Patrick Ewing: He is a former Knick; he has paid his dues as an assistant in the NBA and could probably be lured away from Georgetown where 4 players are either in the transfer portal or living under a restraining order issued by a court.
- Mark Jackson: He played for St. John’s and the Knicks; he is a “NY guy” and was successful with the Warriors in a previous coaching stint.
- Jeff Van Gundy: This would be the Knicks’ equivalent to Danny Boy Snyder luring Joe Gibbs back to the sidelines to coach the Skins about 15 years ago. Check it out; Gibbs did not do all that well when cast with a team constructed by Danny Boy and Vinnie Cerrato instead of the one built by Bobby Beathard.
- Stan Van Gundy: If the Knicks can’t get Jeff, they can’t get much closer to hiring Jeff than this… Stan Van is such a natural on TV that I would suggest to him that he follow his brother’s lead and stay “out there” as a potential hire and not take a seat on the bench.
Actually, I do have an idea for the Knicks that I will offer free of charge. If they hire this guy, it will be newsworthy and distract folks from the team record and team roster; if they hire this guy, they will get someone with ties to the Knicks; if they hire this guy, they will get someone who can coach basketball. Here is “the guy”:
- Rick Pitino
As another example of the limitations of coaches on athletic performance, I read the following item somewhere and failed to record where that was. This is not something I ferreted out by myself, but I don’t remember where I saw it:
- The San Diego Padres hired Damion Easley to be their batting coach. With this new hire, since 2004 the Padres have had 11 batting coaches.
- My conclusion is that only a very few people can “teach” people who have made it to the high minor leagues or the major leagues on natural talent how to hit a baseball any better than they already can.
[Aside: Unless the Padres have miraculously found one of those ultra-rare “teachers”, I would suggest that Damion Easley rent and not buy.]
The College Football Playoff is set. Oklahoma earned the #4 seed over the weekend beating Baylor while LSU beat Georgia. I think the Selection Committee got it right; the top 3 seeds in the tournament are all undefeated. The fourth seed, Oklahoma, has 1 loss. I believe these are the other teams in Division 1-A college football with only one loss in 2019”
- Appalachian State 12-1
- Boise State 12-1
- Memphis 12-1
I have not seen Appalachian State play an entire football game this year, but I have seen both Boise State and Memphis – – and I have seen Oklahoma. While I concede that the three one-loss teams who have been “excluded” from the CFP this year are quality teams, I cannot bring myself to either of these two conclusions:
- Oklahoma is so obviously inferior to one or more of these teams that the Selection Committee should be ashamed of its decision.
- Their “exclusion” presents a sound argument in favor of expanding the CFP to eight teams.
Finally, Dwight Perry had this cogent observation recently in the Seattle Times:
“MLB is floating a proposal that, starting in 2021, would reduce the number of minor-league teams from 160 to 120.
“OK, 122, if you want to include the Tigers and Orioles.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………