Fizdale was fired on Dec. 6 after the Knicks’ 37-point loss to the Nuggets. He was replaced by Mike Miller on an interim basis, becoming the seventh coach for the lackluster organization since 2014. According to the New York Post, the Nuggets beat the Knicks right before the team rid itself of Derek Fisher in 2016.
On Sunday night, when asked about Fizdale’s firing, Malone wondered aloud whether the ousted coach was the “fall guy” for a bigger issue within the franchise.
“They needed to make a change they felt was appropriate,” Malone said. “So much has been written about since David was fired. ‘Is David a fall guy?’ ‘Does it start up higher — front office, ownership?’ I can’t answer those questions. I know Fiz is a good coach. I know he’s a good man and I know all those players in that locker room still believe in him.”
Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone reacts during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Malone dismissed the notion that the players had given up on Fizdale because of a players-only meeting that reportedly took place before Fizdale was fired.
“They talked about how they have to go out and do a much better job,” Malone said. “So it doesn’t all fall on Fiz. I’m a son of a coach. We all know when you get into this business what it entails. When things don’t go right, the guy they’re going to look at is the head coach. Unfortunately that’s what happened with Fiz. I think he’ll wind up back on his feet because he’s a good coach and he’s very well-respected.”
New York still owes Fizdale $17 million that is left on his contract. The team had signed him to a five-year, $22 million deal before the start of the 2018-19 season.
The Knicks are 6-21 this season and are one of the worst teams in the NBA. New York lost to Denver on Sunday, 111-105.