NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — RJ Barrett was asked to explain something that would have been unusual to a 10-year veteran, let alone someone who had played 21 NBA games.
Was it strange to have a coach run practice, only to fire him after it ended?
“I mean, I have no idea. I just got here,” Barrett said. “I don’t know how these things work.”
Welcome to life with the New York Knicks, rookie.
Taking a road trip out West ✈️ pic.twitter.com/EGVSr3ihLG
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 9, 2019
It’s nothing new when they change coaches, but the firing of David Fizdale was a head-scratcher even for the Knicks. When they finally got around to announcing his dismissal last Friday, hours after the practice he led, the Knicks did it with a two-sentence statement void of any quotes or any other explanation. They played at home the next night and then departed the following day for a road trip, all without president Steve Mills or general manager Scott Perry commenting on Fizdale’s removal. That left it up to the players to do all the talking.
The front office did speak earlier in the season, a strange press conference immediately after a Nov. 10 home loss to Cleveland in which they expressed their disappointment with the team’s start. That put even more pressure on Fizdale beyond what he already faced trying to improve the NBA’s worst team in its most unforgiving media market.
The front office had given Fizdale a new roster and not much time to mold it, which numerous coaches around the league thought was unfair.
“As coaches, sometimes you get caught in a storm,” Indiana’s Nate McMillan said.
The skies are always stormy over the Knicks, which can be a difficult adjustment for anyone once they arrive and see it up close. Barrett just spent one season around the picture of college basketball stability at Duke, where Mike Krzyzewski has led one of the nation’s most prestigious programs for 40 seasons.
But the No. 3 pick in the draft knew to expect turbulence in the pros — even if it arrived earlier than maybe he could have anticipated.
“I don’t want to say surprised, just because I had a lot of good people in my ear telling me about different things in the league,” Barrett said. “So not a surprise, but more so just try to be prepared for whatever comes my way.”
With the Knicks, it will keep on coming.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)