Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer
In hiring Derek Fisher as the next head coach of the Knicks, it’s safe to say Phil Jackson got his guy.
Despite having no prior coaching experience, Fisher’s championship pedigree has undoubtedly readied him for such a challenge. But perhaps more importantly, however, he’ll be more than willing to allow Jackson to guide him in what they consider to be the right direction.
As a first-timer, Fisher was presumedly hired, in part, because he won’t have an issue with Jackson toeing the line and potentially overstepping that coach/executive boundary…
With that in mind, one has to wonder what influence (if any) the five-time NBA champion will have on the Knicks’ roster, even though this is truly Jackson’s show to run.
Should Jackson choose to rely upon Fisher as his right-hand man, rather than simply treat him as a pawn while taking control as a puppet-master of sorts, the rookie coach could certainly aid the rookie executive in reeling in some talented players along the way.
Between former executives, coaches, and even players, Jackson wants to continue surrounding himself with familiar faces. But with little to no cap flexibility until next summer, such players would need to accept discounts to come play in the Big Apple.
Perhaps Fisher’s persuasion will prove to be the difference maker. The likes of Steve Blake and Pau Gasol are two former Fisher-teammates set to hit the free agency market in just a few short weeks. Each could stand to help the Knicks in different ways. Hearing from Fisher, as a friend and past teammate who has been in the trenches with them previously, may resonate with each one a bit more than hearing from a mentor like Jackson would.
Just days removed from his own respective playing career, it will undoubtedly be easier for Fisher to relate as he conveys why playing for the Knicks would be beneficial.
For what it’s worth, Andrew Bynum is also set to be a free agent this summer, and could be worth the risk for New York, should he come at a steadily discounted price. Fisher’s former Thunder teammate, Kevin Durant, will be hitting the open market in 2016.
As Jackson aims to improve this roster bit by bit, selling such talented players on potential reunions with Fisher may go a long way. Considered to be the consummate teammate and a well-respected veteran, some of those very characteristics are ones that qualify Fisher as a good coaching fit for the Knicks.
Hopefully the team can reap the benefits of those traits, should some of Fisher’s past quality teammates opt to give donning orange and blue a try.
Just as Jackson prefers to reach into his inner circle for help off the court, perhaps Fisher can work on reaching into his for help on it, as well.