D’Antoni in D’Anger?


Before I say anything, let me say two things:

1. Sorry for the terrible pun.
2. I do not have any “sources” or any “inside knowledge”. I know as much about D’antoni’s job status as you do.

So let’s get started shall we?

As of today, January 20, the New York Knicks are currently 6-8 and have lost four games in a row. Many predicted the Knicks to either win the Atlantic division or narrowly losing the division to the Boston Celtics. Keep in mind, this was before the season started. Right now, the Knicks are 4 games back of the Philadelphia 76ers after 14 games. In every other city, except for maybe Miami due to the fact they are the Miami H3at, there wouldn’t be people calling for the coach’s head after just 14 games. But this is New York, where no job is safe despite your past experience. And unfortunately for Mike D’Antoni, despite his great resume at Phoenix, his seat might be starting to heat up.

Obviously, D’Antoni 100% gets a pass for his first two seasons. Everybody around the country knew Donnie Walsh’s plan: shed as much cap space as possible before the summer of 2010 by any means possible. That meant Chris Duhon starting at point guard for 137 games, Al Harrington being the team’s best player (Yes, the same Al Harrington who famously blew two games for the Knicks by hanging on the rim after a dunk), and Cuttino Mobley, who never even donned a New York Knicks uniform due to a heart condition that was found by the Knicks. I don’t think its a stretch to say neither Phil Jackson or Red Holzman would have been able to take the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Knicks to the playoffs so the fact D’Antoni wasn’t able to is far from surprising.

2010-11, while it wasn’t a throwaway year, was pretty difficult to evaluate D’Antoni on. Half the roster changed dramatically after the Carmelo trade. But, like his days in Phoenix and the previous two seasons, the main complaint about D’Antoni was the lack of defense. However, that’s simply D’Antoni’s system. The Knicks made the playoffs, but got swept by the Celtics in the first round. In the offseason, Mike Woodson was hired after fans pleaded for there to be more of an emphasis on defense. The Woodson hiring and the Tyson Chandler signing had fans expecting an excellent team on both sides of the court.

So that just about leads us to present day. What are the Knicks statistically right now? Well, they’re 18th in points scored and 16th in points allowed. Unfortunately though, that doesn’t show what the Knicks have really been this season. The Knicks have been a mess on both ends of the court. There’s been an incredible amount of miscommunication, a ridiculous amount of 3’s being shot, and mismatches on defense. Now, remember, D’antoni’s system relies on a point guard. Let’s be frank, the only “real” point guards the Knicks can currently put on the court are Mike Bibby and Jeremy Lin. Baron Davis is expected to play in the next two to three weeks. But is he the savior? He had a good season last year in Los Angeles and Cleveland but he’s always been injury prone. The only thing the Knicks can do is wait and see.

So should D’Antoni be fired? Well, if you asked me, I wouldn’t be able to give a straight answer. I have never been a fan of D’Antoni’s system because it doesn’t emphasize defense at all. Those obviously aren’t grounds for firing the guy but frankly except for the wins vs. Sacramento and Detroit, every game has been pretty ugly and very close. I’m sorry but a team that has Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler shouldn’t be playing close games vs. the Charlotte Bobcats or allowing Boris Diaw to score 27 and 19 points in two games. The team hasn’t been playing well and I think it’s time for a new voice and a new system. But by firing D’Antoni, it’s almost a lock Mike Woodson would become the head coach. I can go on and on about my thoughts on Mike Woodson so I’ll just leave it at this: Mike Woodson would probably not do any better than what D’antoni is currently doing with this team.

So will the Knicks keep D’Antoni for the rest of the season? Will they keep him if the Knicks finish this homestand 0-3? Will they keep him to see how the team does with Baron Davis? Or will they bring him back next year so they could hopefully lure Steve Nash to the Big Apple to join his former coach and former pick and roll partner? This is for James Dolan and Glen Grunwald to decide. All I know is, after 14 games, things aren’t looking so fantastic for the New York Knickerbockers.

But hey, as Knicks fans, we’ve easily been through worse times. Much worse.