With Jason Kidd in Dallas, the Lakers are hiring another former head coach who has ties to LeBron James to take his place.
David Fizdale, former coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks, is expected to be the next new assistant to the Lakers under Frank Vogel, a person with knowledge of the situation, which has been confirmed by the Southern California News Group. It was first reported by ESPN.
Fizdale is from L.A. and has nearly two decades of coaching experience in the NBA. Perhaps his most relevant section on the résumé is his work as an assistant in Miami, where he was part of the championship heat teams under Erik Spoelstra in 2012 and 2013. It was this role that helped him make a name for himself as a strong communicator with star players, especially James.
The Lakers specifically want to replace this role: Kidd, who officially accepted a head coaching job for the Mavericks this week, was considered the star whisperer on the team. James in particular has always spoken warmly of Fizdale during his tenure with the Lakers.
« I know Coach Fiz is a great coach, a great communicator, » said James in 2020 when Fizdale was fired from the Knicks. « He’s just trying to motivate his players. »
As head coach, Fizdale had less success with a 71-134 record and was sacked twice in the middle of his sophomore season. His release in Memphis was linked to chemical problems with then-Grizzlies franchise star: Marc Gasol.
However, it is reasonable to view both situations as detrimental to Fizdale, who coached the Grizzlies in a playoff series, as the core of competitiveness aged and that was brought to the Knicks to coach star free agents, that never arrived. Gasol, who is under contract with the Lakers for the next season, said he and Fizdale could speak privately with more perspective about the events in Memphis.
« The only thing you live, you learn and you keep going and things don’t happen again, » said Gasol in 2018. « For me, the most important thing is that we both learn from last season. We’re both better professionals, better people, and that’s the most important thing. »
Fizdale could help the Lakers offensive to be more creative next season: The team was 24th in the offensive ranking last year (109.8) and had problems despite the best defensive skills. Fizdale was one of the people who helped polish Miami’s offensive with James during the title runs – and while James is older, Fizdale’s experience of finding ways to use him is perhaps his most attractive attribute.
ESPN reported that Fizdale was being pursued for other major assistant jobs in the league. He has worked as an analyst for the network for the past two years.
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