Should the NBA Lockout end in enough time for there to be some semblance of a season, Mike D'Antoni will be expected by the Knicks owner to win the NBA title or get as close to doing so as possible.
While the impact of Dolan's involvement in the Carmelo Anthony trade will be debated for years, what is not open for debate is this, any time an owner of a sports franchise gets personally involved in a player trade, he has a personal motivation for that trade to bare fruit sooner rather than later. In this case that means championships. You do not trade for Carmelo Anthony to be the Atlanta Hawks of the North, you trade for Carmelo to win titles.
Look at things from the perspective of James Dolan for a second. What other team in the Eastern conference other than the Miami Heat has two "superstars" in their primes on their roster? Now depending on whether one considers Chris Bosh a "superstar" or not, you could argue if you were James Dolan that the Knicks should not be any worse than the second best team in the Eastern Conference. Now I know that many of you would say that is absolutely crazy, you will point out all of the holes in the roster and say there is no way that the Knicks are the second best team in the East. However, Dolan would counter and a lot of you would agree with him, "if my coach gets the team to play defense, then we will be the second best team in the east with a legitimate chance to win the east."
This is the reality that Mike D'Antoni must operate in. Ironically D'Antoni appears to have embraced this view. Now from D'Antoni's perspective being tasked with winning a championship with Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Chauncey Billups on your roster is probably a better deal than trying to make the playoffs with a roster of Al Harrington, Larry Hughes, and Nate Robinson.
To this end, D'Antoni has challenged his two "superstars" with damning praise. Prior to the lockout D'Antoni made statements claiming that Carmelo should average a triple double every game, and that Amar'e was capable of being top 5 in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots and make it look easy. Now those statements are not important, the message behind them though is, "We can win if you two guys step your games up!"
For D'Antoni he sees the teams fortunes revolving around his team's stars playing like stars. The theory is that if his stars pick up their level of play then D'Antoni can close up the roster holes with bubble gum and duct tape personnel solutions. See the thinking that surrounds the Knicks is fairly simple, get the stars to play like stars and then all the other players have to do is play enough defense, grab enough rebounds, and hit enough open shots and the Knicks will win a title.
If you look at the moves the Knicks have made and have let it be known they plan to make clearly this is the team's line of thinking. Depending on stars and proclaiming that all the front office needs to get him is enough bubble gum and duct tape and he can forge a championship roster is a dangerous gamble on D'Antoni's part.
In reality D'Antoni should be doing everything he can to dampen expectations both inside the organization and in the public. The message should be, we have two flawed stars and a group of limited players surrounding them. Instead D'Antoni says, I got Shumpert, Harrellson, and Jerome Jordan, now if the front office gets me Kwame Brown (or whatever sucky or over the hill big man you wish to put here) and, Julyan Stone (who can't score inside a Bangkok brothel with a fist full of $100 bills), and bring back Jared Jeffries and Shawne Williams and let's go bring on the Eastern Conference!
My prediction is D'Antoni will fail but hopefully the lockout will end quickly enough for us to see him go down swinging.