Before I begin my rant. Let me make it clear that this post is not advocating or condemning the firing or extension of Mike D'Antoni.....
At this very early point in a lock-out shortened, 66 game season the Knicks have started 6-8, barely an impressive mark for a team that has such high expectations. With the signing of Tyson Chandler and the addition of Melo and Amare last year... the expectations... especially for NYers... eclipsed the height of the Empire State Building. o_O If the Knicks continue to slide and dont make the playoffs (which I DO NOT believe will happen) whose to blame?
From what I see in blogs, twiitter etc. most want to blame squarely on Mike D'Antoni. I dont think Mike D'Antoni getting the blame is right. In my opinion Mike D'Antoni will become the scapegoat, although, his coaching performance in my opinion is a product of circumstances. Here are my reasons:
1. Roster Turnover
Since D'Antoni took over in 08-09 the he has coached at the least 53 different players in a Knicks uniform. Based on a 15 man roster... thats 3 and a half DIFFERENT teams in 3 and less then a half of a season. This season alone Mike D'Antoni has 8 new players, 7 returning players and 2 of the 7 returners only played a quarter of the season last year, Jared Jeffries only played a quarter of the year, but was with the team for 1 1/2 years under D'Antoni. 1 player of the 7 returners is a 2nd year player, 1 just came last year(Amare, but player in D'Antoni's system). The others are TD and Bill Walker with Douglas being the longest tenured Knick at 3yrs. This team is hardly the model of consistency. Player consistency plays a major part in every aspect of the basketball game.
2. The 2010 and 2012 Plans
Obviously the roster turnover is mainly due to Donnie Walsh's plan to clear cap space for the 2010 and 2012 free agency periods. Very good decisions on Donnie Walsh's behalf. In the meantime D A'ntoni was asked to put together a winning team, with players who were on short contracts and knew they were not going to return, with a new cast of players every few months and not to mention aging stars/less than stars, underacheiving abd non-motivated players. SMH......
And as fans we expected a team that was going to hustle, work hard every night and try to do what was best for the organization.... lol.... very laughable.
3. Lack of Point Guard Play
To top it all off he's been through 11 different point guards with this team. Only one had a chance to be a future player which was Felton, who was traded in the Melo trade. The others were simply cast offs, rookies, pre-maddonna has been stars or ancillary trade pieces. The one player he did covet was Ramon Sessions... but couldn not sign to protect 2010 cap space, so instead we stayed with Chris Duhon. I will mention that Duhon was Mike D'Antoni's pick, but do be reminded he was the best we could do given the budget and the plan for 2010 and we had Marbury.
People complain that his system does not workhard, that there is no chemistry, they they dont play defense (although better this year). But when you break it down and think about it... How can you expect players to work hard for their coach when they know they dont have a future with the team? ( I dont care if they "get paid" to do it or how much, would you work hard for your organization if you knew in a couple months they were getting rid of you?). How can you teach and implement a system when you constistently have to start over with and intergrate new players? How can a team play defense when you continuously have to teach your defensive scheme and adjust to new players?
Mike D'Antoni is a good coach with a good system. He has been caught in a situation of circumstances that leave him looking responsible. Really the responsibility lies in 10 yrs worth of mis-management.
Mike D'Antoni may be replaced, this year next year or whenever. If he is replaced, and the team wins, in a big way over the next few seasons, people will point to the change in coaching, I on the other had will point to finally having a consistent nucleus to build around.
What do you think?
Follow me @nothinbutknicks