CLEVELAND — Knicks coach David Fizdale may need the upcoming All-Star break to go someplace warm and reorganize his thoughts.
Ten days before the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster, Fizdale had stretched the boundaries when he said the 7-foot-3 Latvian had been “really engaged’’ with his team.
Either he exaggerated the truth or misread Porzingis. Now the first-year Knicks coach has planted another seed for his revisionist-history tree. He said Monday morning here the Knicks “stuck to the plan’’ by trading Porzingis.
You can knock or praise the Porzingis haul, but you can’t pretend the franchise was not building around its injured bedrock. The franchise was attempting to net Porzingis another star piece in the lottery or free agency this summer.
In fact, Fizdale said multiple times the difference between the Knicks’ plan and the “Trust The Process” Sixers’ plan was having “Kristaps waiting in the wings.’’
Now Porzingis is waiting in the wings in Texas. But Fizdale, whom the Knicks media adore for his charisma, finally went too far at Monday’s shootaround.
“We have a plan,’’ Fizdale said when asked about the losing getting to him before his 10-46 squad lost 107-104 to the Cavaliers. “If I would’ve come into this thing thinking one thing and now all of a sudden it’s this? But no, I came into it expecting the worst. And preparing myself for the absolute worst.
“So now we’re at a place where we did, by moving Kristaps, that made us younger. That made us a little more unseasoned. But at the same time, that’s still sticking to what we said we were going to do. Really develop, build through the draft, open up cap space. That’s where we are right now and I’m really happy that we’ve stuck to the plan.”
Stuck to the plan? Hardly. They made the best out of a terrible situation. They chose not to call Porzingis’ bluff about being unhappy and leaning against re-signing long term. The plan was to re-sign him and live happily ever after.
I asked Fizdale how he could say trading Porzingis was part of their plan when the coach was hired in May? (Mike Budenholzer, as I’ve written, wanted this job more than Milwaukee’s to have a chance at coaching Porzingis.)
“Well you don’t have a choice,’’ Fizdale said. “What’s your options? You’re going to lose him. So you’re going to sit there and not have nothing sitting there? Or do you want to have two picks, cap space and a heck of a point guard in Dennis Smith Jr. who’s in his second year. You can’t control every single thing that happens along the way. But if your response is sticking to the plan according to what’s happened, I think it’s the right way to go.
“A lot of times what you can get caught up in in a situation like that is falling off plan and starting to chase shiny things. And now you’re stuck with somebody that you don’t necessarily want at a high price. And we didn’t do that. We stuck to right from what we said from the beginning and that’s what’s given me a lot of confidence with these guys [Steve Mills and Scott Perry].’’
Au contraire. The Knicks’ “rebuild” is about going for massive cap space to hit a grand-slam home run this summer or trade their young assets for Anthony Davis. It’s a completely different plan. Fizdale is normally a sensational salesman, has kept the morale up, but has been caught doing his share of flip-flopping this season.
The Knicks drastically changed their blueprint and made the best out of a Latvian nightmare. It’s OK to admit the best laid plans oft go awry, David.