It didn’t take long for the Los Angeles Lakers to find their Jason Kidd replacement. According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on Tuesday, former David Fizdale will join Frank Vogel’s coaching staff as a lead assistant.
Fizdale, a native of Los Angeles, last served as the head coach for the New York Knicks. He was fired midway through the 2019-20 season for starting the season with a record of 4-18. His overall record in his season and a half with the Knicks was 71-134.
Fizdale’s most successful stint as a head coach came during the 2016-17 season, when he led the Grizzlies to a 7th-place finish in the Western Conference. However, Fizdale’s time in Memphis was short-lived as well in spite of his early success and the Grizzlies’ decision to let him go had a lot to do with his relationship with their star player, Marc Gasol.
Gasol, who’s under contract with the Lakers for the 2021-22 season, will be reunited with Fizdale in Los Angeles, and while there doesn’t appear to be any hard feelings between them, it will be interesting to see if Fizdale’s arrival has any affect on Gasol’s future with the team.
The good news for the Lakers is that Gasol isn’t their star player; LeBron James is, and he’s a known fan of Fizdale’s. In fact, when Fizdale was abruptly fired by the Grizzlies in 2017, James tweeted out his support for Fizdale:
I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 27, 2017
James and Fizdale’s relationship dates back to their time with the Miami Heat. Fizdale served as an assistant coach under Erik Spoelstra from 2008 to 2016, so he was in Miami for the entirety of James’ five-season stint in South Beach.
From the outside looking in, it seemed like James’ relationship with Jason Kidd played a big role in keeping things calm in the locker room, so it makes sense that his replacement is someone that James also has a relationship with. Fizdale’s relationship isn’t the only reason he’s a qualified candidate, though.
Fizdale is credited with helping both the Heat and Grizzlies add “pace-and-space” to their offenses, two things that the Lakers could use after last season. Ironically, he also played a big role in Gasol’s evolution as a 3-point shooter, which in turn extended Gasol’s career:
The Lakers haven’t made their hiring of Fizdale official, but that should change within the coming weeks.