The Knicks’ opponent Friday night at the Garden won just 15 games last season before improving to nearly .500 and a likely playoff berth one year later.
But Derek Fisher, whose team owns an NBA-worst 15-63 record with four games to play, is aiming more highly than the one-year turnaround being pulled off by Jason Kidd and his Milwaukee Bucks (38-40).
“I guess that’s possible, but we are not here trying to squeeze in, we are not here trying to go from 15 to 36 (wins). That’s just not who we are,” Fisher said on Thursday at the Knicks’ practice facility in Greenburgh. “So it can turn around quickly. It will turn around quickly. But we don’t really have to put a number on it. We lost . . . we are 6-21 in games (decided) by six points or less this year. So we lost 21 games on two possessions. So we don’t have to go from 15 to 36 next year.
“We can go from 15 to 63 if we really want to. But that is up to us.”
Of course, most would view such a jump as beyond ambitious for a team with so many questions to answer and roster spots to fill this summer. Team president Phil Jackson and the Knicks are expected to have around $ 30 million in cap space to spend on their lottery draft pick — possibly first overall — and free agents to build around returning All-Star Carmelo Anthony (knee surgery).
Fisher played in eight NBA Finals in his career — including five titles with Jackson with the Lakers. But he admitted he’ll be watching — and perhaps attending — playoff games with a different viewpoint after the Knicks’ season ends next week.
“Quite a bit,” Fisher said when asked how much of the postseason he plans to watch. “As a player when you don’t make the postseason or the years we got eliminated early, it’s difficult to watch. You don’t want to see the team that beat you; you hate everybody, basically.
“But as a coach there’s so much to learn by watching the postseason, how other teams are playing, the type of things they’re doing at the ends of games, strategy, and even listening to the coaches during timeouts, the way they’re addressing their team. I’ve even thought about how purposeful I think it could be to actually be present, in person, in certain environments, especially for me in the Eastern Conference compared to the West. How’s it going to feel to be in Cleveland in the postseason? How’s it going to feel to be in Chicago? I’ve never had those experiences as a player. So there are a lot of things that for me as a coach this postseason, offseason, will hold.”
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