Derek Fisher fired by Knicks
Associate head coach Kurt Rambis named interim replacement
Derek Fisher was fired as New York Knicks coach Monday, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Associate head coach Kurt Rambis was promoted to interim head coach at least through the rest of the season. Rambis, like Fisher an ex-Laker player, went 56-145 in two seasons as Minnesota's coach.
"It's time for us to make a change, turn this team around and move forward and get some wins and keep going down the road we had started here at the beginning of the year," President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson said at the team's practice facility.
The Knicks have fallen to 23-31 midway through Fisher's second season, dropping his overall record to 40-96. Jackson hired his former player in June 2014 shortly after Fisher ended his playing career.
Jackson praised Fisher's work and transition into coaching, but felt he needed to make the decision after the team's recent struggles.
"I think it was nine losses out of the last 10 games. I think it's the business of winning. I think that obviously there's some games in which we didn't get off to a very good start recently," Jackson said. "But I think Derek was prepared, I think he took this business seriously, I think he was a dedicated worker. So some of that onus is on the players and I let them know that today."
Fisher thanked Jackson, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, along with his players and staff.
"This is a very talented team with strong character and I am confident they will succeed," Fisher said in a statement. "Obviously, I'm disappointed, but have learned an immense amount from this experience and hope to grow from it."
The Knicks went 17-65 last season but upgraded their roster during the summer with the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis and the signing of veterans Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez.
Fisher then got off to an embarrassing start to this season during training camp. He was involved in a fight with Memphis Grizzlies forward and former teammate Matt Barnes when he was at the home of Barnes' estranged wife in California.
But things settled down and the Knicks had the look of a playoff team most of the season but are stumbling into the all-star break. Fans loudly booed when they fell behind by 19 points Sunday during a 101-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Kobe Bryant, a teammate of Fisher when the Lakers were winning a bunch of NBA titles, said being let go "is part of the job.
"He'll go on to be a coach again," Bryant said before Monday night's game at Indiana. "I know he likes teaching the game. I know he likes being around the game, so I'm sure he'll be coaching again."
Fisher accepted some of the blame for the team's recent slow starts after the game, though all-star forward Carmelo Anthony said that was the responsibility of the players.
Fisher was a five-time champion playing under Jackson with the Lakers and known as one of the league's smartest players. Jackson turned to him as his second choice after Steve Kerr chose to take the Golden State Warriors' job after he was on the verge of accepting the Knicks' offer.
Former head coaches Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson and Brian Shaw all could be available, or Jackson could wait and perhaps make at a run at another of his former players, Luke Walton, who led Golden State to the best start in NBA history while Kerr was recovering from back surgery.
But he said he was not looking at any coaching candidates now, saying he was fully confident in Rambis.
Rambis has been promoted to interim head coach. Fisher's firing was first reported by ESPN.