Knicks introduce Derek Fisher

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- In his first day on the job, new New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher said he has more than enough experience to succeed on the bench and help end the franchise's 41-year championship drought.

"I am experienced," Fisher, 39, said Tuesday. "Basketball is a game that I am experienced in playing, understanding, leading in, guiding in, helping another group of people achieve the greatest gift in the world as a professional athlete, and that's being a champion.

"That I have experience in, and that's the experience that I plan on sharing with these players, sharing with this organization."

Fisher was officially announced by team president Phil Jackson as the Knicks' coach in a news conference at the team's training facility Tuesday. The Knicks did not release terms of the deal. Yahoo! Sports reported Monday that Fisher and the Knicks were in the process of finalizing a five-year, $25 million agreement.

Fisher said his relationship with Jackson was one of the driving factors that led him to New York. Fisher won five titles while playing in parts of nine seasons for Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"That's why I'm here," Fisher said. "That's why I took advantage of this opportunity, to be a part of that process. ... We know without a doubt that we can re-establish what that means, what that is."

Congratulations to former teammate @derekfisher for becoming the new head coach of the @nyknicks ! Best of luck brother!

- Pau Gasol (@paugasol) June 10, 2014"Derek has a long laundry list of coaches that he's worked under and had a tremendous amount of success, and we welcome him," Jackson said.

Jackson initially sought Steve Kerr for the Knicks' vacancy, but Kerr accepted an offer to coach the Golden State Warriors instead.

Kerr was unquestionably Jackson's top choice. Jackson revealed late last month that he had a verbal commitment from Kerr before Golden State began negotiating with him.

Once Kerr chose the Warriors, Jackson focused his efforts on Fisher, who played in an NBA-record 259 playoff games and won an NBA-record 161. Fisher said Tuesday that he had informal conversations in recent days with the Los Angeles Lakers about their coaching vacancy and with the Oklahoma City Thunder about returning to play there next season.

Instead, Fisher decided to, as he put it, "embrace" the challenge of coaching in New York.

"This is not a ceremony. This is not for PR. This is not for Phil and I to hang out again as friends," Fisher said. "This is to go to work, get our job done. ... We want to add more banners to this ceiling in here as we all continue to come back to this building on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. I thank you all. I look forward to working with you all, in helping re-establish the New York Knicks as not only the best team in New York, but as one of the best teams in the world."

Fisher, an 18-year veteran who also served as president of the National Basketball Players Association during the 2011 lockout, isn't the first point guard to go straight from the playing floor to the bench.

Jason Kidd made the same transition this past season with the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Miami Heat.

The 6-foot-1 Fisher was still a key contributor for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, helping them reach the Western Conference finals. Fisher, who is tied for third on the career list for 3-pointers in the NBA Finals, said thinking like a coach helped him play so long despite never being the most athletic or talented player.

Expectations will be tempered for the Knicks in Fisher's first season on the bench.

New York finished with just 37 wins this past season and missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. It hopes to re-sign Carmelo Anthony this summer. Anthony is expected to test free agency.

Beyond that, Jackson won't have much flexibility under the salary cap to pursue free agents this summer.

Jackson fired Mike Woodson and his coaching staff shortly after the conclusion of the regular season. Fisher and Jackson will work together to fill out the coaching staff, and Fisher might coach the Knicks' summer league team to gain experience before training camp.

Toward the end of his news conference Tuesday, Fisher took a moment to reflect on his long, improbable journey in the NBA.

"It's like a movie that somehow just keeps getting better the longer it goes. I'm thankful that I get to be one of the main characters in this movie," he said. "It's just been an amazing journey, one that will continue with this next phase. I'm excited about it, I'm looking forward to it. I believe it's a job that I can handle, that I can do well. I have a lot to learn, a lot of questions to ask that I have to get better at. But the commitment to it is there; there's no second-guessing what else I should be doing, could be doing. This is what I'm doing. I'm committed to it and I'm looking forward to it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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