Knicks fans, the day has come. Mike D’Antoni has resigned as head coach of our beloved team, which means that the Knicks can start competing for that championship we so desperately desire.
Has Carmelo played poorly this season? Yes, he is shooting his worst percentage of his career, and he has been reluctant to facilitate the ball in D’Antoni’s system, which is predicated on ball movement.
Has Amar’e Stoudemire played poorly this season? Yes, if you have watched the Knicks as much as I have, Amar’e has not looked himself. His bread and butter 15-17 foot jump shot has been off all season.
Do the Knicks need a true point guard? Yes, if you still think Jeremy Lin is the answer, you’re sadly mistaken. To be fair to D’Antoni as well, he needed a point guard to run his system, and run it well.
Despite all these things, D’Antoni had to go. Run ‘n’ gun just doesn’t ever win. D’Antoni has always won a ton of regular season basketball games, but has yet to win the NBA Championship. There’s only so much a team can do with a coach whose idea of defense is to just watch his team and scream out “defense!”
From the get-go it was obvious that D’Antoni and Carmelo Anthony couldn’t mix. Melo likes a style of basketball where he can dominate the ball. He likes isolation basketball and would much rather touch the ball 27 times and shoot 20 rather than constantly reverse the basketball, or play point-forward, which was one of the dumbest decisions I’ve ever seen a head coach make.
D’Antoni likes to constantly move the ball, make the extra pass and run in transition. As you can see, these two were never going to mix. When the Knicks traded for Melo, many assumed that it meant the end of D’Antoni when his contract ran out and the pursuit of Phil Jackson, who many believe will come back to coach in 2012-2013. This would be the perfect fit. Melo in the triangle offense would be dynamite, because the triangle has the scorer on the wing, which is where Anthony loves to shoot. Jackson has ran different triangle systems, but if he were to wind up in New York, I would bet he would run a guard at the top, Anthony on the wing and Stoudemire rotating between the high post and low post.
Regardless of whether they land Phil Jackson, something had to be done. The Knicks do have a lot of talent between Anthony, Stoudemire, Chandler, Fields, Lin (although I still question him), Davis, J.R. Smith, Shumpert and my man Steve Novak. When you can go nine players deep in the NBA, or at any level of basketball, that is a monster asset to have. How the Knicks are 2-8 since Melo’s return is inexcusable. D’Antoni lost the locker room, never had his superstar on board with his system, and the time came for a changing of the guard.
Next issue to put to rest is that Carmelo is to blame. Has Anthony struggled? Sure, I won’t try to refute that. However, this is the same player who brought Jim Boeheim his only NCAA championship at Syracuse. This is the same Carmelo Anthony that has never averaged less than 20 points per game for a season, and averaged over 28 points per game in two seasons.
Also Knicks fans, let’s not forget who the most clutch player in the NBA is statistically. Melo is constantly one of the best fourth quarter scorers and since 1996-1997, with under 24 seconds left in the game the player with the best shooting percentage having taken a minimum of 30 shots? You guessed it, Carmelo Anthony. So Knicks fans I ask you, do you really think he just forgot how to play basketball?
Now Melo never bought in to the system, and if Melo doesn’t start picking it up I’ll retract this statement, but the bottom line is as a head coach, you have to be able to use your players to maximize their talent. If Mike D’Antoni is this great offensive genius, then how could he never take a dynamic scorer and make him fit? Carmelo Anthony now needs to show that he is a true leader. He needs to pick up his play, he needs to lead by example on the court and he is the one that needs to take this team to the next level.
The question is what happens now? First off, the Knicks need a true point guard. I’m tired of hearing that Jeremy Lin is a star and the answer to the issues and Melo needs to go so Lin can run the team. Stop it. If Jeremy Lin was this good do you really think 29 teams would have not drafted him or signed him? D’Antoni can make average guards look great.
To name a few, Leandro Barbosa, Raja Bell, Raymond Felton, Toney Douglas in the second half of last season and now Lin. I’m not saying Lin can’t be a nice contributor, but the man is not the answer. Steve Nash is someone the Knicks should pursue in the offseason. He will not cost a whole lot, because he’s on the back end of his career. He will cost about six to eight million dollars a year, which if they restructure that a bit, they should be able to sign him.
Second is the job of the interim head coach. Mike Woodson will have to get this team committed to the defensive side of the floor, especially Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Melo and Stat both have the ability to play defense, when they want to. As the leaders of this team, Woodson is going to have to make it clear to them that they need to set the example by playing defense and giving 110 percent on every play.
Lastly, the Knicks need to just survive the regular season and still be playing in late April. This team is talented enough to pull off a deep playoff run. If they can survive the turmoil and just make the postseason, they can do damage.
So Knicks fans, I ask you all to sit back, relax and enjoy this team’s turnaround. The problem was not Melo or Stat, it was D’Antoni. Please refrain from stupid comments on how Jeremy Lin and D’Antoni should have run the show and the Knicks should have dumped a top five scorer in the NBA. He’s having an off season. If players left the minute things went wrong in this town, then Eli Manning would not have been quarterbacking the Giants for long. Have a little bit of faith; I know it’s hard with a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since the Allan Houston era.
I promise, the troubles will be over soon.