Derek Fisher is somehow still playing professional basketball in the NBA.
The 39-year-old point guard is busy trying to shoot his team past the San Antonio Spurs and into the NBA finals. Meanwhile in New York there is a head coach vacancy, and after Steve Kerr turned down the role and opted instead for Golden State, rumour has it that Phil Jackson is considering another of his former players.
Despite never coaching an NBA game, Jackson would be wise to consider appointing Fisher as coach.
This Knicks roster urgently needs a leader that not only commands the respect of their senior guys – especially Carmelo Anthony who is entering free agency - but can pacify demands for playing time. Amare Stoudemire has frequently expressed discontent with a bit part role. He is, along with Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani, playing for a contract next season.
If Fisher wants to dive into coaching immediately after retiring he can be encouraged by Jason Kidd’s start to his blossoming coaching career in nearby Brooklyn, albeit with some hiccups along the way.
D-Fish can expect to be given enough time to learn on the job – Steve Kerr was reportedly offered a four year contract. Owner James Dolan does not have a reputation for making carefully considered personnel decisions, but Phil Jackson should offer protection if he becomes impatient – one of the prerequisites of Jackson coming on board with the Knicks is that he is free to make his own decisions without interference from upstairs.
Fisher has a chance to be a head coach of a superstar laden team in the biggest market if he signs with the Knicks long term. Ask Doc Rivers what that can do for your reputation.
The former player made a name for himself at Boston when they traded for all-stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen after an abysmal 24 win season, and after winning the championship in 2008 he is regarded as one of the best coaches in the league.
Who is to say Derek Fisher’s career can’t follow a similar trajectory?