Reports: Derek Fisher To Coach Knicks


The word is former UALR standout, NBA champion and Little Rock native, Derek Fisher will be named the head coach of the New York Knicks today.

From International Business Times:

After several weeks of speculation, the New York Knicks are reportedly set to name Derek Fisher as their head coach in the first major move under new team president and former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers head coach Phil Jackson.

According to Yahoo Sports, the deal is worth $25 million over five years. The Knicks have scheduled a press conference Tuesday morning to announce Fisher as the head coach.

Fisher, 39, played nine seasons for Jackson with Lakers. The two combined to win five NBA championships. Fisher replaces Mike Woodson, who was fired in April. Fisher is the Knicks’ ninth head coach in the past 10 years.

A former head of the NBA players’ union, Fisher has a strong reputation for being a locker-room leader. The 18-year veteran was a fan favorite in Los Angeles for several seasons, and had successful stints with the Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz, and he briefly played with the Dallas Mavericks. In his last three seasons, he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

From the New York Times:

In his nearly three months as team president, Phil Jackson has made it very apparent — in word and deed — that he wants to rebuild the Knicks by relying on his own network of associates and alliances. He has gone so far as to underscore the importance of his “inner circle,” although it might make more sense to refer to his inner triangle.

During a protracted coaching search that stretched from mid-April to mid-June, Jackson focused on two candidates with whom he had strong relationships. After a much-publicized whiff on his first candidate, Steve Kerr, Jackson on Monday finally connected with his second, hiring Derek Fisher to help steer the Knicks toward championship contention. How long that may take is hardly clear.

Evin Demirel has a wonderful profile of Fisher here and speculates: What if Derek Fisher had been a Razorback?

There aren’t many blank spots on former NBA player Derek Fisher’s resume: five world titles, an AAU National Championship, a high school state championship, six years as National Basketball Players Association President, now New York Knicks head basketball coach. On every big stage the Little Rock native played, he left his mark.

Yet there’s the stage he never played on.

It doesn’t matter how many big-time events Fisher was a part of in his 18-year pro career. Nothing will erase the memory of how close he got as a college senior to making his sport’s most dramatic competition: the NCAA Tournament. His University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans were up 56-55 in the 1996 Sun Belt Conference Championship game with four seconds left.

The University of New Orleans had the ball. Fisher closed out quickly on the opposing guard with the ball, but he spun past Fisher’s outstretched arms and drove to the basket, lofting a teardrop shot that resulted in an upset win.

Despite a 23-6 record, UALR would be left out on the doorstep on Selection Sunday. Fisher’s final shot at the Big Dance was gone.

It could have been much, much different.

What if instead of leading UALR, Fish had helped steer the Razorbacks? “I think he could have played at Arkansas, but coming out of high school, he just wasn’t ready,” said Razorback All-American Corliss Williamson, also one of Fisher’s best friends. There’s a strong chance Fisher was ready for Arkansas halfway through his college career, though, and he was closer to making that jump than many people realize.

As a Hog, Fisher likely would have helped stabilize the state’s flagship program during one of its most tumultuous periods and provided guard depth in a season in which it was sorely needed. In the 1995-96 season, for instance, the Hogs at times started four freshmen, including guards Pat Bradley and Kareem Reid. That team ended up making Arkansas’ fourth consecutive Sweet Sixteen, but how much further could it have gone with a seasoned leader like Fisher?

All aboard the speculator, folks. Alternate history isn’t just for Civil War and JFK buffs any more…

Continue reading Evin’s piece here.

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