Mike D’Antoni Resigns As New York Knicks Head Coach

It was all good just a couple of weeks ago…

After a 7 game winning streak where everyone and their grand kids thought of unique ways to use Jeremy Lin’s name was snapped, folks were wondering out loud if Mike D’Antoni’s (121-167 in NY) days coaching the Knicks were numbered. Well in what is being called a mutual decision, D’Antoni and the Knicks have parted ways. Former Atlanta Hawk head coach Mike Woodson, of the Larry Brown coaching tree, takes over on an interim basis. He has 24 games to turn the season around. The now 18-24 Knicks clawed back into Atlantic Division contention, centered around Lin’s meteoric shocking of the NBA scene, but losing 8-10 in New York changed everything. Interesting is the timing considering D’Antoni had 24 games left in the last year of his contract. You will hear many say D’Antoni’s departure has everything to do with Carmelo Anthony….

I’m sure D’Antoni had reservations bringing Anthony into the fold because of his perceived skill set, but are D’Antoni’s teams known for playing any defense consistently? The Knicks were giving up 111 points a game. You can’t win in the NBA giving up that many points…especially in the Eastern Conference. Was dissension the cause? Was it the pressure of Gotham City? The Eastern Conference?

Jeremy Lin hit a wall after that 8-1 top of the world stretch pick and roll bobbin’ and weavin’. He has an entire continent watching his every move outside of the States and granting a crazy number of phone interviews as well as public appearances would wear anyone down. It’s to the point folks want Baron Davis to run the show with Lin coming off the bench. I wish him well, but would anyone be surprised if Lin is on wall street next year wowing the financial district as he did the NBA?

Did Mike D’Antoni have the parts he needs to fun and gun? No his team was traded away for Carmelo Anthony.  Who should have been the one to adapt? D’Antoni had to find out a way to communicate with Melo and he didn’t. Once the locker room is lost, it’s a wrap. Of course we all know Melo’s name will definitely be dragged through NBA mud as well (ks said it for all of us here). It’s been said more than once that once Melo came in, D’Antoni was on his way out. Under Woodson, The New York Knicks offense will spike. Melo will have the ball more. So will Amar’e Stoudemire. Defense will be more of a priority. There will be a lot of isolation.  What are your thoughts on Melo and or Stat? Stephen A. Smith says Melo did not ask for a trade. He is not without blame here as well. This team again, shouldn’t be six games under .500 in a season most thought the Knicks would contend for the Eastern Conference crown.

Philly is playing well. Boston is maintaining and New York seems to have fallen off a cliff. What will be the result? Are the Knicks a playoff team by season’s end?

24 Responses to “Mike D’Antoni Resigns As New York Knicks Head Coach”

  1. Temple3 says:

    I went to the game tonite. The Blazers are a shell of the team that scared the living daylights of the Dallas Mavericks when Brandon Roy went historic for a quarter. That team is nothing but a memory. Tonite they were blown out.

    The story of the game was that Woodson has immediately put his stamp on this team. Carmelo was booed the first few times he touched the ball by a handful of ignant-ass fans in the stands. Of course, when he began scoring, it was all love.

    Woodson’s imprint showed up on the defensive end. Portland only scored 12 points in the first quarter. The Knicks actually held off on running a bit early in order to protect the defensive glass. I don’t know what the rebound totals were, but the team rebounded well early when the game was decided.

    The Knicks ran their offense through Carmelo and he made great decisions. Woodson also gave Baron Davis extensive minutes and he played well. One thing is evident, BD is simply a more confident player than Lin (and of course he should be). He was able to make entry passes to Stoudamire that Lin missed because J-Lin’s passes were too flat or were off line or were early or late. Baron came in and made great passes, sparked the offense and played pressure defense of Nolan Smith.

    Lin had Satan’s Line tonite (LOL) – 6 points, assists and turnovers.

    J.R. Smith and Nolan seemed to be competing with one another as much as the Blazers. By that time, the game was a wrap, but when they’re both hot, I’m not sure that any team in the league can beat the Knicks.

    I don’t read the papers so if they’re killing Carmelo, I wouldn’t know about it. I expect that’s been the case, but he has enough sources of comfort in his life to ignore the Jewish-Italian assault that always visits quasi-independent non-Jewish/non-Italian basketball players (in other words, they’ve been at this BS since the 50′s and it’s not personal — it’s professional and it’s “racial” — because the NY Media are “professional racists.”)

    Carmelo and Amar’e both played better. Carmelo attacked the rim…he didn’t settle for too many shots (a few, but not his usual). Amar’e’s jumper was working and he attacked the rim. Jared Jeffries had a great sequence against Aldridge and played solid D all game.

    Woodson changed the rotations. Baron was the first man in off the bench. Shumpert, I think, was second…maybe Jeffries. Overall, they played as if a weight was off their shoulders.

    More on D’Antoni later.

  2. Temple3 says:

    Quick and Dirty on D’Antoni:

    My best guess is that MDA’s system (such as it was) works best when 1) Your point guard is your best player 2) Your point guard is an excellent passer 3) You have slashing players who attack the rim on misses, and 4) You surround the 3-point line with high quality shooters.

    I can see how that worked well in Phoenix with Steve Nash. In New York, Jeremy Lin was only the best offensive player on the court when Carmelo was injured and Amar’e was out. The offense was sufficient to beat poor teams. However, against elite defenses, that system wouldn’t work because Lin is not Nash, and because the Knicks never ran the system as long as the Suns have.

    So, a system that is predicated on having an elite scoring-passing point guard also requires him to be the primary decision-maker on offense and to set up plays for others. During the streak, the Knicks ran P&R with Tyson Chandler, they hit cutters like Fields and Shumpert, and kicked wide to Novak. That’s how they scored. Everything else was Lin 1-on-1 or garbage time. With Carmelo on the court, the offense simply MUST go through him.

    That’s not the same as the failed experiment of him bringing the ball up court. Lin should still bring it up court, but the point is that Carmelo’s skill set causes the defense to adjust to his position and his intent. Tonight, you saw the Blazers try to double Carmelo and his awareness led to assists for himself (7) and Lin (6) and Davis (10). [Baron had 10 dimes and 1 turnover.]

    Lin is going to have opportunities to score, but he should be the 3rd or 4th option (sometimes 5th) when he’s running the first unit.

    I guess the thing that’s unclear to me is if D’Antoni declined to run the offense through Carmelo (from the 3) because of his system, or because of deficiencies he saw in Carmelo’s game (willingness to pass, quality of passing, quality of shot-selection, offensive effort and leadership, etc.)

    If those were factors in his decision-making, his hands were tied and Woodson’s will be too. If it was something else, Carmelo may continue to play a more well-rounded game and lead the Knicks to where people thought they might go when Chauncey Billups was still in the picture.

  3. Burundi says:

    As a Detroiter, your report of the game, Temple, is heartening to hear that Woodson’s bringing some sanity back to basketball there in NYC. I agree with Stephen A. Smith’s [SAS] take,essentially being that Mike D’s system or rather, Mike, himself, was too inflexible and really only good in the regular season when that type of offensive play may give you some wins against teams in the midst of long road trips, but giving up 111 pts because defense is an afterthought or simply impossible because quick shots aren’t close shots and long shots are typically long rebounds, which makes transition defense insufferably suspect. It’s instructive that the Lakers won during Magic’s & Kareem’s era because they were able to have a low post threat, thus, inside-outside game as well as the wicked transition (read: Showtime) game. The Knicks need simply take a page out of that book. While it’s cool they won tonite, I’d draw up plays for Tyson so that when the collapsing D comes, he can pass it to STAT or Melo or back out to BD and, I lay odds that it would be near impossible to consistently beat that team. I’m sorry but with that front line of those three and JJ whom I’ve always liked coming off the bench, I couldn’t imagine not winning well into the playoffs.

    Lastly, Mike D’s system was rendered utterly foolish to me 2 to 3 decades ago when Bill Russell was quoted as saying that he used to actually REST on offense and save his energy primarily for DEFENSE in order to consistently win. Russell could only do that in the context of his team running offensive sets where the ball is passed around and not simply jacked up after only 2 or 3 players touched it. Judging by several commenters to SAS’s article, it not just the NYC media who are “professional racists,” but, rather, they seem to mirror many of the uber bigoted fans who should probably stick to baseball ‘lest their karmic bigotry takes a toll on the team, yet again…

  4. ch555x says:

    @Temple3

    I had forgotten all about Chauncey’s injury, which could be another factor in this. They just need a system that works around Carmelo, since I’m still convinced building around him and Amar’e could yield the Knicks some success in the East (Heat withstanding at this point).

  5. Temple3 says:

    Just for the record, the Knicks (before last night’s game) were allowing 96.5 PPG. I’m not sure where the 111 PPG number comes from. Perhaps that’s just during the recent losing streak. After last night’s game, they’re up to 96.1 PPG and that’s 16th in the league.

    Also, Chauncey was injured as a member of the Clippers. The Knicks either opted not to resign him or cut him. I can’t recall which.

    According to some other stats, the Knicks were ranked 9th in Defensive Rating, but only 21st in Offensive Rating (Points Per 100 possessions).

    To be fair, you almost have to look at the Knicks as entering their 4th season in one season. The first season began with Tony Douglas playing as a converted point guard and Carmelo bearing significant responsibility for bringing the ball upcourt, for distributing and scoring, etc. Then he gets injured. Amar’e suffers the loss of his brother.

    Enter season 2 and Jeremy Lin. The team plays inferior competition but scores huge wins over the Lakers and Mavericks. Lin-sanity is born and D’Antoni gets a reprieve.

    Enter season 3 and better competition. The Knicks start losing winnable games. Amar’e is slow to recover from his injury. Carmelo and Lin don’t get in sync. D’Antoni gets fired.

    Enter season 4 and the hiring of Mike Woodson. So here we are. Which way do they go?

    Expect to see a lot more of Baron Davis in the future.

  6. Temple3 says:

    @ Burundi:

    Last year, the Dallas Mavericks demonstrated what high-level passing on offense could do for a team. They absolutely smoked the Lakers with their passing game.

    The Celtics teams that won with the Big Three used a similar approach. Keep the ball moving.

    I agree with you that the Knicks need to embrace that approach. The game is really easy if that principle is maintained.

  7. Temple3 says:

    The Knicks went 20 consecutive games from January 21st to March 4 without giving up more than 105 points. In 16 of those games, they held teams under 100 points. And the bookend games where teams scored over 105 were both overtime games.

    The Knicks problems, which lead to D’Antoni’s firing were on offense. Woodson has already done credible work on the defense. The Knicks totals for points allowed rank 16th, but their rate for scoring puts them at #9. Given their offensive pace (ranked #2 overall under D’Antoni’s system), one could argue (as Burundi just did) that the Knicks were running and shooting themselves out of games.

  8. That’s what I get when I put stuff up too quick. Definitely during the current losing streak.

  9. MODI says:

    MDA leaving is a great day. Yes, he is as stubborn as they come, and proof positive was playing without a PG all yeasr until forced to play Lin. But Isiah (as coach) and Larry Brown before him were also stubborn. This is not Larry Brown insanity of produce 42 separate starting line-ups, or Isiah inexplicably playing Curry and Zach together for heavy minutes.

    The demise of many coaches are ego and personality flaws, but MDA is much worse:

    He can’t coach.

    Outside of his one-trick pony system which requires all the right parts as Temple laid out, the man simply can’t coach. He can’t make any adjustments to maxcimize talents of personnell, he can’t coach defense, and he can’t even draw up a final play. Pre-Lin it was dump it in to Melo.

    When defenses started trapping Lin up high to take ball out of his hands, MDA should have responded with a coaching adjustment, but none came. After Melo came back, there should have been an adjustment, but he turned him into a spot-up shooter.

    Nash, then Felton, and then briefly Lin — all penetrating PGs masked that fact that without perfect parts, MDA is a coaching fraud. He really is.

    I suspect that BD will be starting soon as he fits much better with the starting unit, and Lin’s game fits much better with the back-ups, particularly with Novak and JR Smith on each side of him spreading the floor for him. It would also be a nice change of pace.

    The only problem is that the Knicks schedule is not easy the rest of the way and they must make adjustments on the fly

  10. MODI says:

    “I guess the thing that’s unclear to me is if D’Antoni declined to run the offense through Carmelo (from the 3) because of his system, or because of deficiencies he saw in Carmelo’s game”

    T#, I would have to guess the latter since pre-Lin, he ran just about every single play through Melo as a point-forward and Melo led the team in assists with over 4 a game. Without a penetrating PG, MDA couldn’t run his system so he didn’t run it at all. Once forced to start Lin his eyes opened wide and he ran his system again, which as you mention is great when Melo/Amare are hurt and you are playing the Wizards and Raptors.

    MDA’s system is completely predicated on two 3-point shooters stretching the floor at all times in addition to the PG. There was never a time in Phoenix where this wasn’t the case. So when Melo came back MDA’s system really only works with Melo as a spot-up 3-point shooter while diminishing his talents. Sorry, that won’t work. Now you need an actual coach to coach. Enter Mike Woodson.

  11. Okori Wadsworth says:

    The thing I noticed, living in NY, is that really D’Antoni NEVER had a chance. Like ever. As soon as he was hired, it started. So I’m not surprised he resigned. I’m surprised it took this long.

  12. MODI says:

    Okori, by non-NY standards that might be true, but by NY standards he had a lifetime. He was given two free seasons to run up and down, chuck threes, and play no D while we all waited for Lebron. The clock didn’t even start on MDA until year three. Last year with Felton was his best year. While fun to watch, there was a ceiling on that team pre-Melo trade. This year, MDA was forced to actually coach.

    The last good coach the Knicks had was Lenny Wilkens who played .500 ball with a weak squad, but was gone in a year’s time. When Don nelson came for half a season in the 90s with his smallball crap instead of feeding Ewing, his ass was rightfully run out of town.

    What compounded matters is that defense used to be the Knicks trademark, and well you know about that…

  13. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @MODI: Here’s what I meant. When we all knew that those 2 pre-Amare years were just getting rid of dead fat, people in NY still hated D’Antoni. Wanted him gone. Never wanted him here in the first place.

    And believe me, I’m a Hawks fan. I’ve seen Mike Woodson. He might seem great now. But eventually, you’ll become infuriated with him.

  14. MODI says:

    Okay. part of MDA dislike is that he hates defense in a city that made their most recent glory with the likes of Ewing, Oakley, mason, Starks and coaches like Riley and Van Gundy.

    Yes, Woodson does seem great now. He calls plays, and values defense. But curious why he will infuriate. Didn’t the Hawks improve every single year under him? Sure, I know how that last playoff debacle ended, but what infuriated Atlanta fans? What can Knick fans expect?

  15. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @MODI: He infuriated me because, at a certain point, both he and that team maxed out their potential and you never got the sense he realized that.

  16. Temple3 says:

    Okori:

    It really would have been nice to see what ATL could have done with that core of big men and a PG like CP3 or Deron. The selection of Marvin Williams was asinine and catastrophic. It never made a stitch of sense. With that being said, and as frustrating as the Hawks were, it should be clear that Joe Johnson looks better than he is — and the same can be said of the others. They LOOK like 1′s, but they’re really 2′s. The Hawks have four or five guys who are really solid #2′s — and they let two of the best 1′s in the league slip right through their fingers. It’s as ridiculous a franchise moment as there has ever been in the history of professional sports.

    It ranks right up there with the Knicks opting for two decades of mediocrity over paying Dolph Schayes an extra $700 bucks to play center for the next 15 years.

  17. Temple3 says:

    Knicks are up 30 at the end of 3 vs. the Pacers at the Garden.

    I missed the first half, but the Pacers managed all of 31 points (2 more than Portland the night before). Carmelo is having another well-rounded game…stuffing the stat sheet with rebounds and assists, not points. This team has a ton of firepower…more than they can actually get on the floor at one time.

    Mike Woodson made a very strong commitment to Jeremy Lin as point guard. Amar’e appears to be getting his legs and aggressiveness back.

    Well, if they keep winning by 40, they won’t be the 8th seed, but they should at least make the dance. They get Indiana tomorrow night in Indy. Will revenge be served cold?

  18. eric daniels says:

    Why should I be surprised that D’ Antoni was going to be fired, his system doesn’t come playoff time and you have to keep your two superstars happy. I said Phil Jackson will be the head coach of the Knicks next year during this winning streak because the pieces are there for a pretty good 50- 55 win team but D’ Antoni did not want Carmelo because he didn’t fit into his offense.

  19. Burundi says:

    Well said, ED. If a coach can’t work with a player with a near unstoppable mid-range game such as Melo, then he’s got absolutely no biz in the profession. Like your bold, intriguing speculation on Phil Jax getting in the mix, ‘tho’ I’m unsure of that.

    Temple, as I was saying, if the Knicks are coached right, they should win big on most nights and I prefer their front court to most others because, unlike, say, the Heat, there’s no duplication of skills among the players. If BD is healthy with Lin to spell him (or for them to spell one another or play side-by-side, like Joe and Zeke) and change the pace, you’re right, 30 pt margins won’t be unusual—especially if the guards get their points in the context of feeding that front court, 1st. Should’ve figured that if you’re taking in games that you see that very same potential. Tyson may pull their coat on what it takes to win a ‘ship so the sky is the limit, I believe, because the Knicks do have talent to spare, as you’ve argued. I hope Woodson can get it done this year despite the reservations raised by Okori.

  20. Temple3 says:

    @ Burundi:

    Interesting factoid raised by Mike Woodson. ATL was ranked second in offensive efficiency and had 6 double-figure scorers. This was the year they won 53 and he was fired.

    Of course, the difference I see is that that team didn’t have the right PG. Also, they ranked 27th in pace. They played too slowly, just as the Knicks under D’Antoni played too fast. ATL also didn’t have lethal closers used to winning big games and taking the last shot against elite competition. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith are a step or three below Carmelo and Amar’e in that regard.

    If Woodson has learned the lesson and the Knicks catch a team with elite players that miss two many free throws (ahem, Miami) at the right time, it could be on. Conversely, they still need to keep the continuity. If Carmelo and Amar’e can live with scoring 12-15 points a night and winning handily while playing 25 minutes, I’ll be pleased as punch.

    I would hate for the media, however, to get the wrong idea and think that these blowouts are because the TEAM is great. The blowouts are because they have respected elite scoring threats who are sharing the ball, and who’ve committed to playing 94 feet of basketball.

    Carmelo and Amar’e are still the straws that stir the drink. If people get it twisted, they’ll be thirsty.

  21. Temple3 says:

    “Too” even. Argh!!!

  22. MODI says:

    Damn, I can’t remember the last year where I saw the Knicks put together three straight games of team defense like this! (save for one quarter). O can come and go, but D can be constant

    Like the same way half of Linsanity was coming after the Knicks playing without a PG all year. Half of Woodsanity will be from playing without a real coach for four years who can’t adjust to his personnel.

    Miz, watch out cuz Philly is going to see a different defensive energy from the Knicks this week.

  23. Burundi says:

    @Temple

    “If Carmelo and Amar’e can live with scoring 12-15 points a night and winning handily while playing 25 minutes, I’ll be pleased as punch.”

    Bingo!

    The Pistons didn’t start winning until Zeke started scoring less, assisting more, and getting more players involved—sharing the ball. At the time, some player’s contracts and worth were predicated upon scoring averages. It was said that mgt communicated to players that less was more, just as you’ve intimated and that their lowered scoring averages wouldn’t adversely effect their contracts. Plus, the “less-is-more” approach will prolong their careers, as they already proved that they’re tremendous scorers (a la Mark Aguirre).

  24. Origin says:

    No surprise from me that coach woodson has these guys winning. They have the pieces to play defense with chandler in the paint. I mean if he can cover the mistakes of dudes like Dirk he sure can cover Amare’s mistakes on the defensive side. Plus he has the guys extending the defensive pressure in the half court and jumping a lot of passing lanes.

    Also Woodson put a stop to that awful Lin offense. Once defenses got a scouting report and knew that Lin 1.) can’t go left 2.) can’t penatrate without a pick and roll 3.) Has weak handles when going to the hole. All that Lin offense should have ended after the scouting report started to get out on his ass.

    Now what Woodson is doing is having Lin play the Bibby or Hinrich role (in Atl) Bring the ball up and start the offense then give it to Melo or Fields and get the hell out the way.

    Coach woodson is playing his entire bench unlike that fool D’antoni who would run his starters in the ground even in blow outs trying to stat pad. I have seen about 2 or 3 games this year when the knicks were blowing out someone or getting blown out and D’antoni had Melo and Lin in there stat padding late in the 4th qtr. Shoot the game before getting beat by the Heat he had Lin in the game with 2 minutes left so he could stat pad against Atl.

    @Temple – There was no way that Woodson wasn’t going to start Lin that would have been career suicide. Dolan and Stern would have a sit down talk with him. Lin is too important to the League and the Knicks you got fools now running around talking about he brought team basketball back to the knicks and the NBA…..haha these bigots are funny. Lin is a Tebow cash cow for the NBA……man if only Dirk was American then they would be set.

    Last is any fool in the mainstream media going to give Woodson some credit instead of blaming the so called spoiled black athletes on the knicks for not playing hard or listening to coach D’antoni.

    *Side Note – Its funny how the media loves underdog stories and stories of good and evil. Yet you have a story of a young man fresh out of college is is the ROY who replaced a legend who is now a villain and now has the team (that the villain left for dead) a few spots out the hunt for the 8th seed in the East.

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