PORTLAND, Ore. — It took 48 hours, but the Knicks finally released a statement to commend the fired David Fizdale for his work as Knicks coach that lasted a little more than one season.
Embattled team president Steve Mills declined comment at Sunday’s practice on the Nike campus in nearby Beaverton, and it should be noted his name was not on the press release distributed Sunday night, with his own future on shaky ground.
The Knicks were criticized for not offering any well wishes to Fizdale in their two-sentence release Friday night after he was axed following one final practice.
According to a person who has spoken to Fizdale, he was “at peace” with the Knicks decision.
But Mills still was blasted for not holding a press conference Saturday to explain the move before interim coach Mike Miller’s NBA debut.
Sunday’s statement, released after Miller’s first practice as head coach, read: “The New York Knicks organization would like to thank David Fizdale for his leadership and professionalism over the past two seasons. He represented the organization with nothing but class. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.’’
According to a source, the delay in the statements was because the Knicks and Fizdale were still legally working out their separation agreement.
The statement also featured a long-winded and overly complimentary statement from Fizdale, who leaves with the worst winning percentage in club history at .201 (21-84).
Fizdale’s last words to reporters came Friday afternoon when he said he would shake up the starting lineup versus Indiana the next night only to be let go one hour later.
“Coaching the New York Knicks has been a great honor and I appreciate Steve Mills, Scott Perry and Jim Dolan for providing me with this opportunity,’’ Fizdale said in the release. “There are lessons we take with us from every life experience and I am especially grateful for the lessons I have learned from the extraordinary group of people within the MSG family — from the players, coaches, development staff, and trainers to the arena crew, concession workers and ushers — who have all treated me and my family so well during our time with the team.”
Fizdale, whose outsized personality helped make the rampant losing a little more tolerable, had always praised the fan base for sticking it out.
“Knicks fans’ passion and commitment is remarkable and while it is obviously disappointing that we couldn’t deliver the wins we wanted on the court, I am very proud that we were able to establish a system which values accountability, respect, and hard work,’’ Fizdale added. “Although the short-term results weren’t what I hoped for, I’m confident the culture and values we prioritized will contribute to the growth and future success of the core young players who are already improving each and every day.”
Miller conducted his first practice a day after his debut ended in a 104-103 loss to the Pacers. The Knicks flew here early to get adjusted from the six-hour flight and time-zone change.
One of the biggest changes in the Knicks’ demeanor was their defensive scheme as there were few switches on pick-and-rolls against the Pacers. Fizdale’s philosophy this season was to switch on everything and it led to the second-worst 3-point defense in the NBA.
Miller downplayed it, saying each opponent will dictate the defensive game plan.
“It’s game-plan type stuff,’’ Miller said. “What you think will give you the best chance in a game. We study the video. We’ll see things other teams have done that might be good for this matchup.’’
A couple of new plays were added before Saturday’s game but close-to-the-vest Miller said he didn’t want to talk about how much different things might be for Portland.
“Not trying to be tricky and give [the Blazers] anything but if there’s something we can have that’s different, that would be great,’’ Miller said.
It’s been a overwhelming 48 hours for Miller, who hasn’t even had time to read any of the text messages and voicemails he’s gotten.