Team President Phil Jackson believes the rookie coach is the man to bring success back to the Knicks.
Derek Fisher has been one of the most respected men in the NBA for a long time. As a player he has been the ultimate professional – Kobe Bryant named his his favourite teammate ever, and he was twice brought into Oklahoma City to be the guiding veteran presence in a locker room that needed leadership.
He was also a force off the court. He was elected NBPA union president in 2006 and respresented the players in the 2011 NBA lockout.
Fisher will now take his first step into coaching, and will be thrown into the deep end under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
When Phil Jackson was named president of the Knicks in March, it was well-known around the league that he would look to bring in a former player as head coach in the offseason.
When Steve Kerr passed to become coach of the Golden State Warriors, Fisher was the most likely candidate. The former Laker helped Jackson to win five of the ten NBA titles the Zen Master amassed over his coaching career.
Jackson clearly feels that Fisher's qualities that made him such a respected player – his professionalism, hard work and basketball IQ – will translate to coaching. He will also run the triangle offense, which was Jackson's system of choice when he was a coach.
However, trusting the job of turning round the New York Knicks to a rookie coach is certainly a big risk for Jackson to take.
The expensive roster has under-performed for three years now under Mike D'Antoni and later Mike Woodson, and Fisher will have the tough task of getting the best out of troubled players such as Raymond Felton and JR Smith.
The Knicks have no draft picks this year and no real cap space or assets to make roster improvements through free agency or trades. For this reason, it is unlikely that Fisher will receive much help fron the front office, and he will be expected to secure playoff basketball with the same players who finished ninth in the Eastern Conference last year.
The third major concern will be whether Fisher can convince Carmelo Anthony to remain in New York. With little hope of a title in the near future, the Knicks must convince Anthony that the combination of Fisher and Jackson will bring success down the line.
While Anthony will certainly respect what Fisher has accomplished in the NBA, the all-star small forward may be best served opting in for the final year of his Knicks contract to see how Fisher's first year as a head coach pans out.
One thing is for sure, Jackson and Fisher have enjoyed nothing but success over the course of their careers, and if the Knicks' president's bold move comes off there may be hope for basketball in the Big Apple yet.