New York Knicks NBA Handicapping: Betting Impact of Fisher Firing
by Trevor Whenham - 2/8/2016
In a move that hardly qualifies as shocking, the New York Knicks have decided that Derek Fisher no longer deserves to coach their team. He has been fired before the all-star break in his second season. What is shocking, though, is that the Knicks ever thought that hiring Fisher was a good idea in the first place - and that he managed to last as long as he did.
He had maybe improved somewhat in the role, but since he was profoundly terrible when he started, improvement only counts for so much. Going 1-9 in his last 10 games had sealed his fate, but it didn't take a genius to see that Fisher's transition from player to head coach wasn't working out. It's too bad the Knicks don't have a guy with experience and insight leading the team and making personnel decisions. Oh wait, Phil Jackson runs the show there, doesn't he? What a mess. So, what does this mean for the team going forward - and for bettors in the short term? Here are six factors to consider:
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Fisher isn't good: Fisher could one day be a good coach, but his .294 career winning percentage shows he isn't one now. He certainly showed he understands the game well as a player. He just had not made the transition smoothly at this point.
His in-game management was often questionable, and the team regularly didn't look as ready for situations as they should be. Really, though, should we be surprised? Fisher deciding to step into coaching when he did and in the spot he did was moronic, and Phil Jackson should be seriously berated for enabling the situation to occur.
Think about it. On May 31 of 2014 Fisher played his last game as a player - a losing effort in the conference finals for the Thunder. He wasn't a star on that team, but he still logged more than 32 minutes in that game so he was relevant, and the end of his playing career would come with mental hurdles to overcome - for the first time since 1996 he was not a professional basketball player. Most guys in his spot take some time to get themselves together. If they want to coach then most guys would find a position to learn the craft. Fisher, obviously not the king of self-awareness, instead waited just 10 days before accepting the job with the Knicks. Why would he think that the transition away from playing wouldn't affect him like it has affected countless others? Or that he would be immediately ready to step in and run a team he was just playing against? Or that he was ready to deal with the brutal media market that is New York? Or that the roster and general situation within the Knicks was suited to his success?
There were delusions stacked upon delusions around this hire. Add in his lack of immediate coaching success and the ridiculous drama around Matt Barnes and Fisher's love life and the guy was doomed even if he was a good coach - which he isn't.
Rambis is worse: Kurt Rambis is the interim head coach. While the head man in Minnesota, Rambis made a very strong claim for being the worst head coach in NBA history. He's a joke. I am not even slightly kidding when I say given the choice between a lame duck Fisher for the rest of the season and Rambis I would choose the former every single time. Don't expect miracles here.
It's not all coaching: It's easy to pile on the coaches here, but it's not all Fisher's fault. Jackson was a genius as a coach in two cities, but he is making a mess of building a roster. Melo is healthy and playing well, but he's a tough guy to play with and hardly a selfless centerpiece of a team. Kristaps Porzingis has a chance to really be special, but he's still just a rookie. Arron Afflalo is probably their third-best player. Arron freaking Afflalo! Fisher didn't maximize this roster, but Phil Jackson himself in his prime couldn't polished this pile of garbage.
Luke Walton just got rich: Walton, the assistant in Golden State who ran the team flawlessly when Steve Kerr was out with his back injury at the start of the season, is a former Phil Jackson guy who will be heavily considered for this job. He's going to be a major contender for the Lakers, too. Being at the center of a bidding war never means you are going to get paid less - especially when the bidders are too of the richest and most financially stupid organizations in the league.
The chips could start falling: George Karl in Sacramento is going to be fired any day now. Byron Scott is giving Rambis a run for worst coach ever and will be done in L.A. Alvin Gentry can't feel too comfy in New Orleans. With a lot of teams looking to change, and with premier options like Walton and Tom Thibodeau being in short supply, teams could look to make changes now to position themselves for a brighter future. The Fisher dismissal could open the unemployment floodgates.
ATS performance: The betting public had a surprisingly accurate sense of this team. Despite their 23-31 record overall they were a slightly profitable 29-25 ATS on the season. That shows that the public isn't treating them like a public team despite their high profile - a sad statement about how long it has been since the Knicks have really been relevant. Because the public has been generally rational about this team overall, they aren't likely to overreact to this firing or the Rambis era. There won't likely be any panic value here like there is in a lot of similar situations.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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