Former Knicks manager David Fizdale praised the club for hiring Tom Thibodeau, noting that New York “is not an easy place to train.”
“I think (Thibs) is an excellent rental. I think Thibs is an infernal trainer, “said Fizdale, currently ESPN analyst, in an interview on Sirius XM NBA Radio on Wednesday. “It requires hard work and tenacity from his boys. He was a hell of a coach to train. It’s always been a headache for us when I was in Miami and when I was in Memphis, so I think they have a great coach, a great guy.
“I think the city will embrace it,” Fizdale added. “I think the biggest step now will be to be able to get the kind of players he needs to be successful there.”
Former team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry fired Fizdale early in the 2019-2020 season, the second Fizdale in the workplace. The Knicks were 4-18 at the time. Based on the club’s record, it was no surprise that Fizdale was released. But the circumstances surrounding the coach’s expulsion were a bit surprising, as detailed in a SNY story at the time.
Fizdale was fired for less than two years on a four-year contract. A few weeks later, Knicks owner James Dolan reassigned Mills and hired Leon Rose as team president. Rose retained Perry as her general manager as she joined the front office. He also hired Thibodeau as his coach late last month.
SNY reported that strong internal support exists for former Knicks manager Mike Woodson to be hired as assistant under Thibodeau. The same goes for Mike Miller, who replaced Fizdale on an interim basis last season.
Some in the organization say Fizdale had an interest in adding Woodson to a senior role on his staff once he took over the Knicks job in 2018. Fizdale worked for Woodson as an assistant coach in Atlanta and the two developed a very close relationship. Fizdale said he considered Woodson an extremely important mentor in his career.
But Fizdale’s idea of hiring Woodson has met with resistance elsewhere within the organization, according to SNY sources.
During his interview with Sirius XM, Fizdale was asked about Woodson’s possibility on Thibodeau’s staff.
“I think it’s a big hit because Woody knows the surface of the ground and can really navigate with Thibs and overcome potential pitfalls and things like that,” Fizdale told Sirius, which is home to Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine. “You know, it’s not an easy place to work, it’s not an easy place to train. There are many different things that swirl around the team and that’s what happens with being the New York Knicks. And so because Woody has successfully sailed and really understands the dynamics of New York and New York City, I think he will really be of great value to Thibs in that situation. And Woody can flatten the coach and so that’s where he’ll help him from that point of view on the pitch as well. “