Seeing as they scored just 36 points in the first half and seeing as they trailed by as many as 30 points, Sunday’s 108-87 Knicks loss to the Cavaliers looks somewhat merciful. It wasn’t. This was a thorough drubbing on New York’s home floor at the hands of one of the worst teams in the league, a particularly bad loss even in the context of a particularly bad six years of recent Knicks history.
When it was over, the two guys who assembled this roster—general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills—took the unusual step of going before reporters to take questions, even before the usual postgame press conference of coach David Fizdale.
And that could be a problem for Fizdale. He is only in the second of a four-year deal he signed last spring, but it was clear that after Sunday’s disaster, Perry and Mills were amping up pressure on Fizdale.
“This is not where we expected to be, at this point, 10 games in and we felt like we had an obligation to do that,” Mills said of the impromptu presser.
“The lack of consistency,” Perry said. “For the most part, you’ve seen it. You see sporadic efforts, too. That’s what we’ve talked about as we sat during this game and one of the reasons we wanted to come out and address you guys. Because we’ve got to be consistent in all areas of the game, starting with effort.”
Both Mills and Perry acknowledged their own slice of blame in the Knicks’ abysmal 2-8 start, bin jut the focus on execution and consistency indicate that it’s Fizdale who is now under fire. His job is not imminently in jeopardy but if the Knicks don’t start putting forth better efforts, that figures to change.
Fizdale Offers Perspective for Knicks
When Fizdale took the podium at Madison Square Garden to explain how his team managed to shoot 36.0 percent from the field and 29.0 percent from the 3-point line while coughing up 21 turnovers and missing nine free throws, he also vacillated between accepting blame and defending the team’s early record.
Fizdale said he was in constant contact with Perry and Mills.
“Ultimately, that falls on me as the head coach,” Fizdale told reporters. “I have to find a way to build some consistency with this team throughout whatever the built-in excuses may be. I’m not going to lean on any of those excuses, I’m going to keep driving this team to get it to a place where they can play consistent basketball.”
Fizdale then enumerated the better efforts that the Knicks have had this season—tight losses against Brooklyn, San Antonio, Boston and Friday’s surprising win in Dallas—as signs that the Knicks are closer to succeeding than many might suppose.
“You just don’t do those things and not be able to come back out against some of these other teams and play,” Fizdale said. “But for perspective, a good friend of mine told me to never overreact to overreaction. We’re two games from the eighth seed. The team that’s in the eighth seed right now has four wins. So it’s not that, like, ‘Oh my God,’ everybody acting like the world’s coming to an end. It’s not.”
That’s true and Fizdale is hoping for an extended length of patience. For what it’s worth, Knicks players—most notably rookie R.J. Barrett—have been supportive of Fizdale behind the scenes. He’s not quite on the firing line yet but if he gets there, some in the New York locker room will not be very happy.