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Kurt Rambis says Derek Fisher didn’t give players time to learn triangle as Knicks top 76ers

Interim head coach Kurt Rambis of the

Interim head coach Kurt Rambis of the New York Knicks reacts during a game against the Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

PHILADELPHIA — Knicks interim coach Kurt Rambis is distancing himself further from the team’s former coach.

Rambis said Derek Fisher “skirted over” areas of the triangle in training camp and was “going back and forth” on things, hurting the players’ ability to learn the offense.

“If you want to learn something and truly learn something, you have to immerse yourself in it,” Rambis said at the Knicks’ Friday morning shootaround, many hours before the Knicks’ 109-102 victory over the 76ers. “We didn’t fully immerse ourselves into practicing it, developing it, learning how to work with it, going through the breakdown drills to execute it properly, so we kind of skirted over things. The real learning process of it didn’t have enough time to take place.

“We also didn’t allow the players the kind of time that it needs in terms of putting in the time to allow them to get comfortable with it.”

Fisher, who was fired Feb. 8, tried to tweak the offense and add some different looks. He didn’t just use a two-guard front, which is the more traditional approach in the triangle, also going with a one-guard front.

“Well, we looked to do things out of a one-guard front as well as a two-guard front,” Rambis said. “So we’re constantly wavering, going back and forth. So to an extent, our players almost treat it like plays now rather than a real sequence of actions and a real system that you work under.”

Fisher said during training camp that he didn’t want to do as much talking and teaching, so the players wouldn’t get bogged down and could just play.

It seemed to work early. The Knicks were 22-22 and in the playoff race on Jan. 20. But when asked if, in hindsight, that hurt the players’ ability to learn the offense, Rambis said “yes.’’

Rambis said he hasn’t spoken to Fisher since he was fired and said he didn’t try to talk to him during camp to recommend they spend more time working on the triangle.

“A coach has to do what he feels is right, what’s right for the team, and how he feels, and the vision he has and how he feels that that vision is going to be allowed to get accomplished,” Rambis said. “He’s trusting his gut and he’s going with his gut and allowing the guys to have more freedom to do things in terms of going back and forth between a one-guard front and a two-guard front — that’s something that he believed.

“But you always continually look at how your team is playing, how they’re executing, what they can do to get better and ways that you have to try to make adjustments so that they can be playing better. So it’s an ongoing conversation that you have all year long.”

Serving as an analyst for NBA TV on Wednesday, Fisher said it’s hard for players to learn the triangle because it’s difficult and there isn’t as much practice time as there used to be. Rambis doesn’t necessarily agree.

“First off, it’s not difficult,” Rambis said. “It’s like learning anything new. You have to open up your mind and be receptive to learning something new. That’s a huge part of it. Phil and Tex [Winter] have always felt it takes players, regardless of who they are, a good year when you’re staying in it, when you’re executing it the way it’s supposed to be executed, a year or so in terms of really understanding it, the nuances of it, where you stop thinking about it.

“So would I say it’s difficult? No. You just have to be receptive to learning.”


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