Emmanuel Mudiay is all-in on Knicks’ coaching change
Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay has his third head coach in three months. Instead of lamenting the constant change, Mudiay sounds genuinely pumped about David Fizdale.
Mudiay’s two months with former Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek didn’t go smoothly, though he places no blame. Mudiay said he has chatted up the personable Fizdale a handful of times before games.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive things,’’ Mudiay told The Post in his first remarks since suffering a season-ending concussion. “Just excited. Nobody has played with him yet over here except Troy Williams [with the Grizzlies in 2016-17]. But I’m not the only one excited. Everyone else is, too.’’
Neither Hornacek nor Denver’s Mike Malone drew the best out of Mudiay, the seventh-overall pick by the Nuggets in 2015 and who, at 22, still has a chance to become something special. At least that’s what Knicks general manager Scott Perry thinks. He traded for Mudiay at the Feb. 8 deadline.
Fizdale, who played point guard at the University of San Diego, has a strong reputation for developing young players, particularly during his eight seasons as a Miami assistant.
“He’s an unbelievable guy,’’ Mudiay said. “He studies the game, loves the game of basketball. You can tell he’s well-prepared.”
The common chatter concerns what Fizdale’s impact on the injured Kristaps Porzingis’ career will be. More immediately, Fizdale will be judged on his handling of the Knicks’ three young point guards — Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke. That was a main topic in all the coaching interviews.
“I think he can help me out a lot,’’ Mudiay said. “Not only him, but the coaching staff he brings in. I’m looking forward to it.”
In 22 games under Hornacek, Mudiay averaged 8.6 points and 3.2 assists, shooting 38.8 percent. Worse, he was a minus-14 per 100 possessions before missing the season’s final three games with a concussion.
Mudiay started 14 straight games out of the All-Star break before Hornacek replaced him with Burke. Mudiay handled the setback with grace.
“I have no control over what the front office wanted to do,’’ Mudiay said. “I just trust them in what they’re doing. If they feel we needed a new voice, that’s what we need. I think they made a great decision, too.’’
The former Nugget admits he underestimated the difficulty acclimating to a new team late in a season. The Knicks front office believes a training camp, getting in top shape and a new coaching staff will do Mudiay wonders. Hornacek’s system didn’t jell with Mudiay.
“Coming from Denver, we played a whole different type of style,’’ Mudiay said. “Coach Hornacek had his own way of playing. It was a little different. It took me couple of weeks to figure it out. The first time being traded, I was wrong for just thinking it’s going to be picked up easy. Obviously, it took longer. Two different coaches, two different ways they wanted to play.”
Next season looks to be another developmental season for the Knicks. Mudiay will have no excuses if he doesn’t shine.
“We all know KP won’t play a lot — if any — next season,’’ Mudiay said. “Everybody else has to be ready as much as we can.’’
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