Derek Fisher was fired by the Knicks earlier this week, and while some could argue it wasn’t a surprise – the Knicks were 23-32, and five games outside of the final playoff spot with 27 games left – the timing felt strange, given his 5-year contract.
Right now, before the all-star break? The Knicks had lost five straight, but four of them were to teams currently in the playoffs. Phil Jackson said it was because they’d lost nine of 10 games. Woj went deeper into the background, and confirmed that the Matt Barnes situation played a big role: “[T]he fastest path to losing a locker room comes this way: Behave like a player.”
At around the 30-minute mark of an episode of ESPN’s TrueHoop podcast on Wednesday, a contributor named Big Wos recalled that he felt at the time that Derek Fisher’s escapades with Matt Barnes’ ex-wife during training camp were a fireable offense. “You just don’t seem like you’re taking your job seriously,” he said. “And if the players are supposed to be held accountable by this guy, and he’s in the same dating pool as them, that’s such a personal thing, the woman that you’re dating, and I think that every single player kind of understands that.”
This has all been well documented, but there’ve been plenty of other insinuations out there beneath the surface.
“Phil [Jackson] failed to tell him that when you become a coach you have to move your dating sites up to the executive level,” Brian Windhorst laughed in response. “I mean I’m making a joke, but it’s also the truth. It’s now Tinder pro.”
After some more discussion about Barnes and Fisher, Windhorst chimed back in: “Correct me if I’m wrong, Kevin [Arnovitz], but Tim Hardaway Jr. had to go on the record to discuss whether he and Derek Fisher were involved with the same woman. I’m fairly certain he had to go on the record and said he had to deal with that. So it wasn’t just Matt Barnes.”
[UPDATE: This did indeed happen.]
As far as we can tell, if there was indeed a situation between Hardaway and Fisher, it never bubbled over publicly. During the Barnes fiasco, there was an offhand allusion to rumors of a love triangle involving Hardaway and Fisher (and one involving Fisher and Cleanthony Early) on a small web site called Sneaker Mob, and a few offhand tweets. There were plenty of stories last season about Hardaway Jr.’s being in Fisher’s doghouse on the court (here, here, here), but that’s not altogether uncommon for a young player. Hardaway was traded to Atlanta this offseason.
Elsewhere this week, there was vague chatter from a well-regarded Bill Simmons podcast guest and NBA gambler Haralabob Voulgaris:
Simmons had his own, even vaguer tweet that could have been about anything (the Kings, for example, are having a characteristically tumultuous week, as well as everything that’s happened with the Clippers), but may or may not have involved private conversations that have been swirling around Fisher all week.
If you search for them, there were plenty of thinly-veiled shots at Fisher, including unsubstantiated talk of social media decorum. In any event, Windhorst’s comments hold the most weight, and even those came in the midst of an extemporaneous discussion, involved a player who wasn’t even on the team this season, and a
n ultimately-inaccurate recollection off the top of his head. Nevertheless, it feels like more will come out from this story.