If David Fizdale needs any references as he is regarded as a frontrunner for the vacant New York Knicks coaching position, all he has to do is point south to Miami.
The former Heat assistant coach, fired by the reeling Memphis Grizzlies as head coach earlier this season, cut his teeth as an assistant coach of Erik Spoelstra’s staff.
After leading the Grizzlies to the playoffs last season, Fizdale was the fall guy for Memphis’ dismal play this season.
Spoelstra said earlier in the Heat’s first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers Fizdale is primed to get right back on the horse, so to speak.
Fizdale, former Knicks point guard Mark Jackson, now of ABC, Kenny Smith, now of TNT, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt have been summoned by the Knicks for interviews.
“Fiz is a great fit anywhere,” Spoelstra said, according to Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “He’s a brilliant basketball mind that has exceptional, gold-standard level communication skills. He’s one of my best friends. But I say that objectively.
“I just think he’s one of the most talented coaches I’ve been around. I feel very grateful that we had an opportunity to work together for so long. I just hope he goes west.”
While Fizdale was running the Grizzlies, he had only two matchups per regular season against the Heat. If he lands the New York gig, that total could be as many as four per season.
“That’s the kind of respect I have for him,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t want him going anywhere in the East.”
Fizdale also has the backing of Miami’s franchise player, Dwyane Wade.
“He’s a phenomenal coach,” Wade said. “I think everyone’s seen that with the job he was able to do in Memphis. His name will be in the running for a lot of jobs. One thing he’s going to bring to a team is his work ethic. He has a great offensive mind, but he has defensive principles with the Miami Heat.
“Pat Riley has instilled that in every coach that’s come here. He’s a good manager of personalities, as well. The sky’s the limit for whatever organization is going to get him and give him an opportunity to really put his fingerprints on an opportunity for a long time.”