DoneToni (Update)

by - November 17, 2010 - - 1 Comment »

*It appears this post may have been a bit premature. I do my best to be patient, I should’ve waited a little longer. Perhaps the new players just needed some time to gel. Following a successful road trip (albeit against lesser opposition) that saw the emergence of Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari (showing an uncanny knack for drawing fouls), the Knicks appear to be running a much more fluid version of Mike D’Antoni’s system. The season lives. (It’d be nice if guys didn’t continue to have career games against them though.)*

I’m not usually one to call for the coach’s head. That is a dumb reactionary tactic and usually doesn’t solve the root problem at hand. It’s like treating symptoms and not the cause of the disease. Mike D’Antoni is not the root problem with the Knicks but it’s becoming more and more apparent that his coaching is in fact a problem.

When D’Antoni was hired I didn’t love it initially. His style of play, while wildy enjoyable and successful in Phoenix, didn’t seem to mesh well with New York. East Coast basketball is about defense and toughness, not exactly his calling card. However, I talked myself into it.

The guy did win 62, 54, 61 and 55 games in four consecutive seasons I told myself. I then added, can you imagine LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or any pair of the 2010 free agents in his system? That would be ridiculous.

The latter didn’t work out and the former certainly hasn’t either. In years where D’Antoni hasn’t had Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion in their primes, he’s won 21, 32 and 29 games (not to mention the terrible start this year and a 14-36 record in 1998). It seems the guy can’t exceed expectations or maximize talent.

Granted, the Knicks haven’t had a point guard to properly run his system. Chris Duhon and Raymond Felton hardly live in the paint like Steve Nash did or Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo would. This prevents players like Stoudemire from getting easy buckets or perimeter guys from getting fluid catch and shoot opportunities. Instead, the ball gets passed around the three point line until a marginally open look is jacked up.

But that defense only goes so far. It’s the coaches job to adjust to his personnel. Do the Knicks have contending talent? No. Do they have better talent than they’ve had? Yes. Should they be competing for a playoff spot? Yes. If you can’t score the way he wants, you have to get stops. They never do. It’s maddening. And it’s something New Yorkers smell out and can’t stomach. A coach like Scott Skiles doesn’t have a plethora of talent in Milwaukee. I bet someone like him would be able to change the Knicks identity and turn the them into a competitive team.

The problem goes much deeper than Mike D’Antoni. Every Knicks coach and general manager over the past decade has failed (miserably). Bad organizations almost always start with bad ownership and that is a nearly impossible hurdle to overcome. Still, D’Antoni is a major contributor to the mess and that should ultimately be enough to cost him his job.

(Maybe I’m being a tad impatient. He could still turn it around. But what have I seen during his tenure that would have me believe that?)

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One Response to “DoneToni (Update)”

  1. Chance Segundo says:

    I disagree with your assertion that every Knicks coach over the past decade has failed miserably. The Herb Williams head coaching era will be seen as a beacon of light in the years to come. His dedication to being an interim head coach, not once, but twice truly puts him in rarified air as one of the top echelon interim head coaches of all-time. His 17 wins as a two-time interim head coach ranks him first on the all-time list of wins by two-time interim head coaches in the history of the NBA. He is the Don Nelson of two-time interim head coaches.

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