It’s open season on coaches in NBA

VIDEO: Derek Fisher got ejected for arguing a call earlier this season. The Knicks fired him today.

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Technically, the New York Knicks “relieved” Derek Fisher of his duties as coach today, which is a fancy way of saying they fired Phil Jackson‘s hand-picked choice to lead the franchise.

Kurt Rambis has been elevated to the top job in Fisher’s place, leaving yet another franchise with an interim (or replacement) in place of the coach they started with this season. It’s the latest in a somewhat shocking run of coaching decisions around the league.

And it just goes to show that no matter if you’re winning or losing, when it’s open season on coaches in the NBA, anybody could be on the firing line — just ask George Karl, who is reportedly on the hot seat in Sacramento.

Kevin McHale was the first to go this season, lasting just 11 games in Houston before being shoved out and replaced by J.B. Bickerstaff. Lionel Hollins got the boot in Brooklyn after a dreadful start and was replaced by Tony Brown. David Blatt, fresh off of a trip to The Finals and his team sitting at 30-11 and first place in the Eastern Conference, was next. Tyronn Lue was tabbed as his successor and is 6-3 since making that 18-inch move over to the big chair. And just last week Jeff Hornacek was tossed out in Phoenix and replaced by Earl Watson.

And now comes the news that Fisher, a Phil Jackson disciple but a coaching novice, is out after a season and a half and just 136 games (with a woeful 40-96 record).

With the Knicks mired in a 1-9 slide, including five straight losses, and seemingly no relief in sight, Jackson apparently decided that enough was enough. We’ll find out what the final straw was late today when Jackson addresses the media after practice.

But it’s clear that in New York and everywhere else, if ownership and the front office believe that there is a disconnect (real or simply perceived) between the talent on the roster and the coach responsible for getting the most out of that talent, the coach is expendable.

The five coaching changes prior to All-Star Weekend is the most since the eight coaching changes prior to the break during the 2008-09 season.

The term “crazy season” is usually reserved for the rumors and drama surrounding this month’s trade deadline. It seems a more appropriate title for all of the coaching changes going on this season.

Blatt’s contemporaries, notably Rick Carlisle in Dallas and Stan Van Gundy in Detroit, expressed their outrage when he was fired and Cavaliers GM David Griffin did his best to explain why a coach with a sterling record was out of his league, and ultimately out of a job, trying to coach a star-studded roster.

Carlisle and Van Gundy should know better than anyone how this works, since they were both fired from previous jobs in the league where they were wildly successful.

There is no real rhyme or reason to these things. Sometimes it’s a gut feeling, sometimes it’s the things we can’t see from the outside and sometimes it’s just clash of personalities or philosophies that lead to a coaching divorce.

Fisher had no coaching experience prior to being selected to coach the Knicks. And he wasn’t even Jackson’s first choice, that would have been Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who in hindsight obviously made the right choice.

The most important choice for Jackson going forward is getting it right this time. He’ll have his pick of out-of-work coaches, like Tom Thibodeau, or he can wait on an up and coming assistant like Luke Walton. Whatever his choice, it has to be someone that can get the most out of the Carmelo AnthonyKristaps Porzingis combination and perhaps more importantly, someone with the toughness and resolve to survive the “crazy season” expectations that all of these franchises are caught up in.

Data curated by PointAfter


  1. This could be off topic but personally, I am happy that they fired Derik Fisher. I lost respect for him when he crossed the line with Matt Barnes. That was very unprofessional for an NBA coach. Ex-wife or not, he can have anyone woman he wants. Is he above the law?

  2. CanMikey says:

    I am shocked why the coach firing is looked at as shocking. We don’t know what the agreement between the ownership and the coach were. Just because a team is over 500 or if a team is in playoff contention it doesn’t mean that’s what the expectations were. Lots of employers have quarterly reports, midterm reports, annual reports. Hollins was fired because Nets went to the playoff last year, and this year they are 14th. Fisher was fired because they probably were expecting them to make the playoffs, Blatt was fired because they were winning mediocre games, yet they would lose to top teams, including Toronto.. Blatt was not going to beat the Dubs. McHale firing was the most shocking but at the same time, the players just weren’t responding to his system, that TOO is a good reason to fire a coach. I had no problem with Jackson’s firing.. he did not get the best out of the best player in the world. Go watch soccer in Europe, a coach can get fired after winning titles after titles. Its about what have you done for me lately. End Rant.

  3. brad says:

    Why doesn’t Phil bring in himself?

  4. Tom says:

    Jackson BETRAYING Fisher… Ouch…. Not the coach’s fault, look at the Knicks roster.

  5. Rob says:

    The coach is always made the scapegoat.

  6. Fr3D says:

    But isn’t this Jackson’s fault anyway since he couldn’t bring in a quality free agent last summer (Aldridge, Monroe, Jordan…)?

    • Ozballer says:

      Indeed. Considering Porzingis was kind of a fluke, this team is arguably over achieving at this point…

      • Dave says:

        A fluke? How on earth is Porzingis a fluke? They were watching him for a while. He was scouted rather thoroughly I’ve read. It was a calculated decision based on observation and experience. How is that a “fluke?”

    • Maro says:

      If you were Jackon would you fire Fisher or yourself 😉

      • Roosevelt says:

        Yes, it absolutely is a fluke. It’s a fluke that they are a few games out the playoffs picture. At the beginning of the season, the Knicks wasn’t projected to be a playoff team. Porzingis definitely is helping, but the expectations for this team went up, after flirting with a playoff spot.

        NYC isn’t ready yet. This is why Phil Jackson himself, or Steve Kerr doesn’t coach teams like this.