Yeah, I Said It! Mike D'Antoni's time in New York has officially run out. I never really supported bringing him here in the first place, but no one can knock his success prior to joining the Knickerbockers. His first year as head coach, for the Suns, he joined the team midway through the season. Under D'Antoni the Suns went 21-40. The next year was a complete turnaround, with the addition of Steve Nash, the Suns(62-20) cruised all the way to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. The following season, the Suns went to the Western Conference Finals again, this time losing to the Dallas Mavericks. Both of these seasons Steve Nash was named NBA MVP. He then coached the Suns to two more 50+ win seasons, before he left for NY.
this is his story....
Donnie Walsh was the newly appointed president of basketball operations, and promised to turn this franchise around. His first executive decision(other than banning Isiah Thomas from Madison Square Garden) is to bring in Mike D'Antoni. We are then told that there is a master plan to get under the salary cap for the summer of 2010, so the next two seasons are basically a wash.
The 2008 NBA Draft comes around, and our pick is a forward out of Italy named, Danilo Gallinari, who also happens to be the son of one of Coach D'Antoni's former teammates. With this connection between the two, one could only assume D'Antoni had the last call on drafting Gallo. Now I won't throw him under the bus, but after an injury plagued rookie year, he has hit the wall pretty hard in his 2nd year (2nd year numbers: 13.8 ppg 5.1rpg 0.8bpg). At number 6 however, players that were still on the board included slow speaking Brook Lopez (2nd year numbers: 19.1 ppg 8.5 rpg 1.9bpg/arguably better than our resident all-star david lee), Eric Gordan (2nd year numbers: 17.4 ppg 2.8 apg 2.6rpg) and Anthony Randolph (2nd year numbers: 11.6pg 6.5rpg 1.5bpg). Not to mention the untapped potential of DJ Augstin and Jared Bayless.
The 08-09 campaign starts. Our prized but fragile first round pick get hurt in a summer league game, spends most of the first 2/3's of the season on pine. D'Antoni announces that Chris Duhon and Stephon Marbury will compete for the starting job, he then names Chris Duhon the starter. The season opener comes around, and the Knicks are playing the Miami Heat (who have a revitalized Dwayne Wade) pretty well. The second quarter comes around and Starbury is still sitting next to Eddy Curry on the bench (if memory serves me right, I think Curry did see some time on the court before heading to the locker room, to treat an injury) Me, being the Brooklyn-ite that I am, and resident of Coney Island, begin to chant "WE WANT STEPH!" by the end of the 2nd quarter the entire garden is chanting it. Knicks eventually go on to win the game, I go streaking because the Knicks are finally over .500. The next morning every media outlet in NYC is talking about Mike D'Antoni's reaction to said chant.(it went something like, 'You've got to be f*cking kidding me!) This eludes to Mike D'Antoni's now infamous ego(after all he did coach a MVP Steve Nash led team to 4 consecutive 50+ win seasons).After starting the season 6-3(maybe things are turning around?!) Donnie Walsh trades Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph for the likes of Cuttino Mobley and Al Harrington. Minutes after this trade is announced I see Stephen A Smith on ESPNEWS telling the world that this is the greatest trade in NBA history, and he information that both LeBron James and Chris Bosh will be New York Knicks in 2010. (YAY!! we all throw donnie walsh a parade). Through January the Knicks are 20-25, not great, but still in the race for the 8th seed. And then that infamous 3 game home stand occurs in the beginning of February. Kobe embarrasses us, LBJ embarrasses us and the Celtic Big 3 embarrass us. We go 12-25 for the remainder of the season, Duhon is obviously run to the ground, Starbury remains on the bench, eventually to be bought out, and we have the #8 overall pick in the 2009 draft. Clearly, the drumming that the Knicks took by the hands of the NBA's 3 best teams took a toll on the confidence of the team, a good coach would some how turn that into a learning experience, motivation, something, anything, but not Mike D'Antoni. Strike One For Mike D'Antoni
Draft night 2009 comes around, everyone in NY knows that Stephen Curry is on the Knicks radar, but we really want Ricky Rubio. Unfortunately the T'Wolves draft Rubio at #4 and the Warriors take Stephen Curry from right under our noses at #7. The Knicks are on the clock now, and obviously since we wanted to draft a guard, we will draft some other guard, in this guard-heavy draft class. Instead, Jordan Hill is called to the podium, and is greeted by boo's from the New York crowd(funny how that same crowd was sad to see him go). The experts tell us Jordan Hill was drafted because he can be the next Amare Stoudamire, we buy into (I mean these guys are called experts for a reason right?). His numbers go a little something like this (4.0ppg 2.5rpg) granted he didnt get much playing time. Players drafted after him you ask? Most notable, Brandon Jennings (#1 player in high school before going to Europe for a year) 16.1ppg 6.1 apg, Darren Collison 10.4ppg 4.6apg (more importantly, since CP3 has gone down with injury 20.3ppg 9.7apg), Also the likes of Rodrigue Boibois(remember him?) Ty Lawson and Jrue Holiday, whom haven't gotten time to shine but still put better numbers up thatn Jordan Hill. We also draft Toney Douglas, who is getting 6ppg in only 13mpg this season. (Why doesn't D'Antoni give Toney Douglas the opportunity to Do What Toney Douglas Do?
There is some speculation that the decision to draft Jordan Hill came from Donnie Walsh, so I can't blame D'Antoni for that (plus I think he is a bust, why isn't he getting any playing time in Houston, which is a team that doesn't even have a center?)
Now, we are in the 2009-10 NBA season, and I'm pretty sure you all know how that has gone (it consisted of many blow outs, a loss to the NETS Duhon trying to be a leader by calling out teammates, those teammates laughing at him, nate robinson being benched, nate robinson requesting a trade, nate robinson getting traded, david lee being names a replacement allstar, Larry Hughes getting benched, Larry Hughes asking for a trade, Larry Hughes being traded, Duhon being benched, trading away everything except the rights to Madison Square Garden for Tracy McGrady's expiring contract and as of March 2nd 2010 a record of 20-39. Of those 39 losses, we have had a 50 point massacre at home (Rodrigue Boibois?) and last nights gang bang by the Cavaliers. Which brings me to D'Antoni's second strike. During the post game interview's for both of these games, after both of these games, he showed no fire, no anger, no disgust, he just laughed it up with reporters (when asked if the knicks gave full effort after the Dallas game, he replied "I sure hope not (ahuk haha ahuk)") I know the Knicks are once again the laughing stock of the league, but why are you laughing with them Mr. D'Antoni? Strike Two for Mike D'Antoni
It is clear to me that D'Antoni was brought here not to win games, but as another prop to lure players in come 2010, because he is a players coach. So not only do you get Broadway, but you get to take as many bad shots as you want. But a quote from the King following last nights game shoots this down. "I've never played for a team that didn't play defense". Strike Three for Mike D'Antoni
Donnie Walsh better get Coach K on the phone.