NEW YORK—The slumping New York Knicks sacked Derek Fisher on Monday, promoting Kurt Rambis to the job of interim head coach in a bid to reverse their sagging NBA fortunes.
“It’s time for us to make a change, turn this team around and move forward,” Knicks President Phil Jackson said Monday afternoon, hours after the team confirmed the move in a statement posted on its website.
The decision to axe Fisher, who was hand-picked by Jackson prior to the 2014-15 season despite his lack of coaching experience, came a day after the Knicks fell 101-96 to the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden —the Knicks’ season-high fifth straight defeat and their ninth defeat in their last 10 games.
“We have never been truly consistent,” Fisher admitted Sunday night. “The reality is that we have chances to win these games, but we are not winning them.”
Jackson said that just wasn’t satisfactory.
“Some of the onus is on the players,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot easier to fire a coach than 15 players. Unfortunately, it’s not always the coach.
“There’s a way for them to play better that we should see. … We want this team competitive day in and day out.”
Fisher was hired on June 10, 2014 after the Knicks were unable to lure Steve Kerr—who instead coached the Golden State Warriors to last season’s NBA title.
Fisher finishes his Knicks coaching career with an overall record of 40-96.
The Knicks have shown vast improvement from their 17-65 campaign of 2014-15, but they have veered off course in recent weeks and fallen from playoff contention to 12th in the Eastern Conference —five games behind the number eight team.
“I want to express my deepest gratitude to (owner) James Dolan, Phil Jackson, (general manager) Steve Mills and the entire New York Knicks organization for giving me this incredible opportunity,” Fisher said in a statement.
“I also want to thank my staff, players and the fans for their passion and support. This is a very talented team with strong character and I am confident they will succeed.”
Rambis, who was serving as associate coach, becomes the 27th head coach in franchise history. His 18 years of NBA coaching experience include a stint as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.
Rambis was a part of eight Los Lakers NBA title-winning teams, four as a player and four as a coach or executive.
“I have big confidence in his ability to coach this team,” Jackson said of Rambis, who met with players on Monday.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to right this ship so we can make a push for the playoffs,” Rambis said.
Meanwhile, Cleveland superstar LeBron James posted his 40th career triple-double—and his first this season—to lead the Cavaliers to a 120-100 NBA win over the reeling Sacramento Kings on Monday.
James had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and teammate Kyrie Irving added 32 points and 12 assists to pile on the misery for the Kings, who have lost four straight and eight of their last nine.
Sacramento coach George Karl reportedly could be fired before next weekend’s All-Star break.