Right Man for the Knicks? Five Things David Fizdale Must Address in NYC

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David Fizdale during his spell as Memphis Grizzlies head coach watches his team against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on February 26, 2017 in Denver. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have hired David Fizdale as their new head coach, as they look to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

League sources quoted by ESPN suggested the former Memphis Grizzlies coach met Knicks owner James Dolan on Thursday, before putting pen to paper on a four-year deal with president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry.

The duo fired Jeff Hornacek last week and reportedly met with a number of candidates before opting for Fizdale, who becomes the fifth coach the Knicks have had in eighth years and the 11th since the 2001-02 season.

Here's five things that could decide his stay in the Big Apple.

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David Fizdale during his spell as Memphis Grizzlies head coach watches his team against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on February 26, 2017 in Denver. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Coping with pressure

New York has made the playoffs just four times since the turn of century and went 60-104 in Hornacek's two seasons, while Fizdale took the Grizzlies to the post-season with a 43-39 record in his only full season in Memphis in 2016-17.

While it's unlikely New York will return to the playoffs at first, Fizdale is one of the most promising coaches in the league.

"He'll be ready for the pressure that comes with the media, the fans and the expectations, especially being in Miami under [team president] Pat Riley," Jalen Rose said on ESPN's studio show on Thursday. "He's developed a level of tough skin. He'll be able to turn them around and make them respectable.''

Handling Kristaps

The Knicks are severely short of playoff-caliber players but Kristaps Porzingis bucks the trend. The fourth overall pick of the 2015 draft recorded career-high figures in points, steals and blocks last season despite playing only 48 games before rupturing his left ACL.

While he will be out until midway through next season, the All-Star center is the man the Knicks have to build their future around and ESPN reported Fizdale will travel to Latvia to meet the 22-year-old in the near future.

The coach's feud with Marc Gasol accelerated his departure from Memphis and his relationship with Porzingis could be pivotal for his chances to succeed in New York.

"I'd be happy if I was him,'' Chauncey Billups, the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals, said of Porzingis, as reported by the New York Post. "[Fizdale] knows the game, is relatable, a contemporary and has coached great players and has a championship pedigree [with the Heat].''

Understanding the players

While the rift with Gasol painted the new Knicks coach as intransigent, he is widely respected by players and colleagues.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who worked under Fizdale during his spell as assistant coach with the Miami Heat, enjoy a great relationship with him and his ability to convey his message to his team was a deciding factor for the Knicks.

"Today's players are very different from yesterday's players," Mills said. "So, you have to be a person that understands who these guys are, where they come from, what their basketball journey is."

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Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 26, 2018 in Phoenix. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Tighten up defensively

This season, only 10 teams allowed more than the Knicks' 108 points per game and only eight teams allowed more three-pointers per game. Given the Knicks' had the 18th best offense in the league, tighten up defensively will be crucial for them, particularly at least until Porzingis returns.

Under Fizdale, the Grizzlies had the third-best defense in the league, allowing just 100 points per game. While the personnel at his disposal in New York will be inferior, improving the Knicks' defense will be among Fizdale's priorities.

Build for the future

Mills and Perry appear intent to completely uproot the culture that has hampered the Knicks for the last two decades. The process began last summer when they traded Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder and is expected to continue apace, with the Knicks set to clear significant salary cap space next summer.

New York also owns all of their future first-round draft picks and Fizdale will be tasked with building a team around Porzingis, preferably by assembling young talent rather than by signing star names on eye-watering salaries.

Right Man for the Knicks? Five Things David Fizdale Must Address in NYC | Sports