With Jason Kidd accepting the Dallas Mavericks head coaching position, the Los Angeles Lakers wasted no time in finding his replacement as they reportedly are finalizing a deal to bring on David Fizdale as an assistant coach.
Fizdale has been out of the league since being fired from the New York Knicks but returns to his native Southern California to work under head coach Frank Vogel. Fizdale’s head coaching tenures have been short as he was let go from both the Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies after about a year-and-a-half in each market.
During his time with the Grizzlies, Fizdale had a very public strained relationship with Marc Gasol, who was a star for the team at the time. As time has passed though, Fizdale has recognized his mistakes and the two were able to mend fences, via Jesse Washington of The Undefeated:
“I tried to coach Marc Gasol like I coached kids from the ‘hood, but I hadn’t gained enough trust from him,” Fizdale said in our interview. “I coached him how my high school coach would have coached me, where I tried to tear his ego down to the barest bones in front of the group. I got caught up in my own ego and my emotions, because I was so frustrated with the losing.”
The bottom fell out in a home loss to Brooklyn, when Fizdale kept the franchise player on the bench the whole fourth quarter. With eight straight losses, a 7-12 record and Gasol expressing his dissatisfaction to the media, Fizdale was fired. But the reaction around the league was sympathetic. James tweeted that Fizdale was the “fall guy,” and Fizdale would soon be offered several other top jobs before choosing the Knicks.
The day of his first preseason game with the Knicks, a text message pinged on Fizdale’s phone. It was from Gasol. He apologized for how things ended in Memphis and said he understood why Fizdale pushed him so hard. “Those guys are lucky to have you,” Gasol wrote.
The new Lakers assistant was known for pushing his players and demanding excellence, which seemed to rub Gasol the wrong way, although thankfully the two men were able to move past it. Los Angeles had to have taken this into consideration when hiring Fizdale and his reunion with Gasol should hopefully go better this time around.
Gasol unsure of future plans
Although Fizdale and Gasol have worked past their issues, there is no guarantee they will actually get to work together again. Gasol is technically under contract for one more season and believes the Lakers can win a championship, but he revealed at the conclusion of this past season that he is still unsure of his playing future.
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