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Monday, May 12, 2008

Thoughts on Mike D'Antoni to the Knicks

In no particular order:

1. Why would a guy on the cusp of coaching championship teams opt for a four-year sentence in New York? It doesn't matter who coaches this roster, the team really won't be able to contend for a playoff spot for two years and go past the first round for three. Some would say that's optimistic. So why did D'Antoni go to the Knicks?

2. Why would a team that is notorious for overspending ink a coach for a four-year deal at $6 million per (whose recent experience has not been building teams but coaching excellent ones) when it doesn't have the talent to make the playoffs? Put differently, couldn't they have gotten by for a few years by hiring a didactic, solid, young coach, a Lawrence Frank wannabe, say at $1.5 million per for three years? That situation would have offered two advantages. One, the young coach could turn into a keeper. Two, if he didn't, you then could hire a big name coach to come in and take the team to the next level.

3. Why build around an offensive-oriented coach when you know that to win a championship, you had better play great defense. You can only run by opponents so often. Denver learned that, and you would think that by now they've learned that in Phoenix.

4. Back to D'Antoni. Okay, so Jerry Reinsdorf wouldn't have offered you $6 million per, but you would have had the opportunity to coach a team that has some (very) high potential college all-stars -- Deng, Hinrich, Gordon. Instead, you get a team that has a bunch of big-contract, low-production players. What you'll realize, quickly, is that you can't change these guys, and you'll re-learn that in the end it's only so much about coaching. More of "it", as it were, is about talent.

5. As for Donnie Walsh, he mollified the hungry fans by offering them up D'Antoni and showing them that he has the wherewithal to hire the best and brightest. That's fine, but he also sent a signal that under the Dolans, the Knicks still aren't above big-money folly. The proof will be in drafting, in moving big contracts, and in pivoting this bloated roster into a lean, mean fighting machine. We'll see.

The Knicks would have been better off saving their money. Their roster can't play the way D'Antoni's squad played in Phoenix, and help isn't quickly on the way. Sure, Isiah the coach alienated the players, but it was Isiah the GM who created the awful roster of players. Not even coaches like Auerbach and Jackson could (or could have) taken this Knick squad and turned it into a champion.


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