GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Just over six months ago, Derek Fisher and Jose Calderon were squaring off as opposing point guards.
This week, Fisher will be starting the second week of training camp as Calderon’s head coach, giving Calderon directions on what to do and how to run the triangle system.
So far, the relationship between Fisher and Calderon has gotten off to a smooth start despite Fisher’s rapid transition from player to coach.
“It hasn’t at least felt awkward just yet,” Fisher said. “We haven’t had an awkward moment where we are kind of wondering what happened here. Six months ago, we were competing. And now we are on the same team.”
The most important relationship Fisher will have as head coach will be the one he has with his star Carmelo Anthony. But his bond with Calderon will likely be vital to how the Knicks adapt to the triangle offense and what Fisher wants to accomplish.
Even though the triangle does not necessarily employ a traditional point guard, Fisher will likely need Calderon to be an extension of him on the floor as a “lead guard” in the system.
A coach’s best friend can often be his point guard. When it comes to Fisher’s transition to head coach, Calderon can help make Fisher’s job easier.
Calderon can help set up the offense, make sure players are in the right spot and move the ball where it needs to be.
“As you know, the system is going to be trying to share the ball, try to reposition everybody,” Calderon said last week. “I like that. I’m the point guard, pass-first point guard. I’m going to try to get everybody involved like I’ve been doing for a while now.
“I think the system fits me well. I can shoot the ball. I can make everybody comfortable out there, and I’m just going to try to help my teammates play better basketball if possible.”
Phil Jackson and Fisher are trying to drill the culture of team ball, sharing the basketball and playing as a cohesive unit as much as they are trying to teach the nuances of the triangle.
An unselfish, pass-first point guard like Calderon seems to be an ideal conduit to spreading that belief to the rest of the team.
“He’s a low-maintenance guy,” Fisher said. “And those guys are all the rage in the NBA these days. So we’re proud to have Jose’s leadership, his personality, his composure, his poise under duress and stress.
“Jose does what he wants to do on the floor,” Fisher continued. “He doesn’t allow defenses or players to speed him up and force him to do things he’s not comfortable with doing. To have a guy like that in control of the basketball in a lot of situations for us is going to be an invaluable asset.”
Especially for a first-time head coach like Fisher. To this point, the new relationship dynamic is going well.
“Having played in this system for so many years and being a small guy, 6 feet, 6-1, I relate more to smaller guys,” Fisher said. “I think I relate to what Jose can do and needs to do to help us win.
“So I think our relationship will be easy from the basketball perspective when we talk about how we can best help the team succeed. Outside of that, I don’t see any issues at all. I see it being an easy relationship and one that would allow each of us to take on a proper leadership role.”