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Mike D'Antoni deserves criticism...but why?

Mike D'Antoni has received some criticism this season. His Knicks are 3-14. That's to be expected. Even within the realm of P&T, the criticism ranges from an assortment of small complaints to outright demands that he be fired. I'm not sure it's entirely clear, though, why there's dissent amongst the fans. Take, for example, Steve Nash's comments to Alan Hahn:

"I don't think anyone expected them to turn it around last year or this year," Steve Nash said at Suns practice in New York on Monday. "Everyone starts getting on top of Mike or the system or whatever they do. In reality, if you said to them, 'Are the Knicks going to be any good before the big free-agent summer? I think everyone would've said 'No, probably not.'

"So I don't know what the big deal is. To me, they're on the same plan, trying to develop young players and trying to wait and see who they can get next summer."

A lot of y'all probably spotted a hole in the above logic, and Hahn catches it as well:

We agree with everything Nash said, aside from the "trying to develop young players" phrase, which, as we've seen in the early part of the season, doesn't appear to be the priority...yet. As we said in the previous blog, perhaps D'Antoni's plan is to give the vets the first half of the season and then turn the season over to the young guys in the second half.

And therein lies my main point. This year's Knicks were probably destined to lose. We weren't expecting D'Antoni to build a well-oiled machine out of spare parts, but we did hope he'd make the best of what he had. That hasn't quite been the case. Toney Douglas's minutes have fluctuated dramatically, while Jordan Hill's playing time has been at a consistently slow burn. Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler have been largely mis-used as offensive weapons, while the ball remains in the hands of Chris Duhon and Al Harrington, who, with all due respect, are probably lame ducks. The funny thing is that Hahn rightfully guesses that D'Antoni might grant the youngsters more minutes once the season has been deemed a lost cause. That makes sense, but I think a lot of us would agree that Douglas, Hill, Gallinari and Chandler are actually among the players most capable of making the Knicks semi-competitive right now. Unless the veterans are being showcased, which remains to be seen, I have trouble coming up with an argument against giving major minutes to the Knicks with fresh legs, moldable games, and long-term contracts.

All that said, I don't think Mike D'Antoni should be fired. Not in the slightest. My point is only that my own criticisms, as well as those of fans calling for the coach's head, tend to regard his personnel decisions, not his losing record. D'Antoni's ultimate judgment will come in the next decade, but that doesn't forbid us from critiquing his current body of work.

Game thread cominatcha later.