Mike D'Antoni, in what is being termed as a mutual decision, stepped down as coach of the New York Knicks on Wednesday. On the heels of an embarrassing six-game losing streak, and with all manner of rumors sweeping around Madison Square Garden in the days before the NBA's trade deadline, D'Antoni had apparently had enough. You would too.
[ Y! Sports Radio: Adrian Wojnarowski dissects the Knicks' front-office decisions ]
Mike Woodson will take over as interim coach, and he's a capable voice. A low-risk solution who manned playoff teams in Atlanta from 2008-2010, but certainly not the boffo name Knicks fans are looking for. And, more importantly, most certainly not the big name MSG boss James Dolan is going to want to hire, in order to pass off another franchise savior that he'll throw at the team's frustrated fan base in order to divert its attention from the fact that he has completely made a joke of this franchise since wresting control of it away from Dave Checketts over a decade ago -- and to take the glare off his continued relationship with Isiah Thomas.
It wasn't Thomas' decision to acquire Carmelo Anthony; former GM Donnie Walsh had targeted the scorer for years if LeBron James or Dwyane Wade passed on coming to New York in the summer of 2010. But it was Thomas' pound-foolish decision to send four starters and draft picks to Denver for the right to employ Anthony for two months toward the end of the 2010-11 season (instead of just signing him as a free agent during the offseason) and extend him to a now-anachronistic $65 million contract. Because the new collective bargaining agreement took hold 10 months after that deal, that contract now looks like quite the millstone despite Anthony's gifts. And if you'll notice, Mike D'Antoni doesn't seem to have anything to do with this.
This is why it's best for him to get out now. Before things dwindled further. Before teams continued to find ways to take advantage of Amar'e Stoudemire's declining athleticism, Anthony's freelancing, Jeremy Lin's inexperience and Baron Davis' still-Baron Davis (still taking nearly six 3-pointers per 36 minutes of play despite shooting 22 percent) shot selection. Get out now with that MSG cash, and while you can still point to New York's 10th-overall defensive efficiency ranking as proof that you can coach a good defensive team in spite of perhaps the two worst forward defenders amongst prominent NBA players.
From here, the plan is to find the next hero. To bait a great coach into thinking that he can be the guy that cuts through Dolan's nonsense. That he can be the one to eliminate Isiah Thomas' influence. That he can be the one to get through to Carmelo Anthony, as George Karl was sometimes able to do regarding Melo's shot selection in Denver. That he can be the one to properly take advantage of one of the bigger payrolls in the league. That he can be the one to turn all this on-paper potential into winning basketball.
Don't count anyone out. Because coaches are as stubborn and wracked with the same massive egos that players often boast. Toss in the money, the challenge, the lifestyle, and the warmth that would come from being termed a savior? Who wouldn't take a swipe? Choose any name, top to bottom. Anyone would look good at that podium in July, promising big responsibility and eventual wins. A return to glory, even if it's been almost 40 years since the Knicks' last championship, and the team has been a joke of a crew for nearly 75 percent of that time.
I'm not going as high as Phil Jackson. I wouldn't completely rule him out, but I wouldn't give it more than a 1 percent chance. We're sure he finds Dolan's ways completely distasteful, that he has no interest in living on the Eastern Seaboard again despite his one-time love of the lifestyle, and that his age and the wear and tear of a potential 100-game season will be too much for the ego satisfaction and barrels of MSG cash to overcome. There's also that roster, which … nah. Not Phil's thing, if you know what I mean.
Someone else will give it a go, though. And when it happens, you'll know why. The lure, that money, that ego-stroke, that talent and that team? It's too much to turn down.
Watch 'em line up to willingly be the next guy to take a fall for James Dolan. Because they think they can be The One.
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- Carmelo Anthony
- James Dolan
- Isiah Thomas