New York Knicks Struggle as Mike D'Antoni Loses Respect of Players and Fans

D HoldingCorrespondent IIIMarch 11, 2012

Mike D'Antoni is looking for answers in New York
Mike D'Antoni is looking for answers in New YorkRob Carr/Getty Images

Looking at the New York Knicks roster, you see depth, talent, and star power.

You see superstars that should be able to score the ball, and a full second team of important pieces.

You also see a defensive lineup that can play with anyone—or should be able to play with anyone.

Why, then, do we see a confused coach who cannot figure out how to manage this roster? 

As the Knicks move forward after a 106-94 loss to Philadelphia, head coach Mike D'Antoni looks bewildered. Unable to put the right people on the court at the right time, he is getting beaten easily by teams with less talent.

When talent and depth lead to losses, it comes down to chemistry and coaching. Chemistry, I am still convinced, is not the problem with the Knicks.

Linsanity has come and gone, and the thought that Jeremy Lin could not mesh with Stoudemire and Anthony has been put to bed. They can most certainly play together, yet they get pulled off the court for a full five-man switch when they are playing their best.

During today's loss against the 76ers, the Knicks were playing well with Anthony and Lin producing for New York. After a timeout, D'Antoni took the hot hands off of the court and put in the second team. 

Not only did the Knicks give up the lead, but Anthony never heated up to the same level as the game moved along.

Usually, depth is a luxury that any coach would like to have. The ability to devise matchups and different lineups is usually a dream. The Knicks' depth, however, seems to have D'Antoni looking for answers.

Early in the season, the excuse was that D'Antoni needed a quality point guard to run his system. Enter Jeremy Lin.

Another excuse for losing was that D'Antoni does not teach defense. Enter Jared Jeffries, Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler. These three are nightmares for opposing offenses, with Shumpert emerging as a shut-down type of guy against quality opponents. With the Knicks' defense ranked in the middle of the pack in total defense (18), their offense should be able to score enough points to win games. 

Going into today's game, I was not convinced that the 76ers were truly a better team than the Knicks. After today's game, it is clear that they are far better than New York.

The streaky nature of the Knicks' offense needs to be curbed immediately. D'Antoni needs to take a deep breath and work the lineup with less rigidity. If he is feeling pressure to get certain guys a certain amount of minutes, he shouldn't.

Mike D'Antoni, it seems, is losing the respect of his players because of inconsistency in his ability to handle and distribute the lineup. Players should be able to lean on their coach to put them in the position to win, given that they can execute effectively.

Although struggling to execute, the Knicks' raw talent alone should have them higher than the eighth seed in the East. I strongly believe that consistency in coaching will lead to more consistency from the players, mostly due to confidence.

As the taunts and boos ran through the seats in Madison Square Garden today, it was clear that the Knicks are moving in the wrong direction. It is hard to believe that this roster cannot win games, yet D'Antoni knows how to pull it off.

If the Knicks go into the playoffs as the seventh or eighth seed, it will be a short postseason for New York. The Heat and Bulls are much better than the Knickerbockers, even though it should not be as lop-sided as it is.

To win a playoff series, New York must get to the sixth seed. However, with a five-game losing streak, they find themselves almost six games behind the Hawks for that coveted spot.

It is amazing to me that the Knicks may not make the playoffs. My common sense tells me that this team is a playoff team. Their ability to completely avoid playing to their potential is frustrating, to say the least. The Knicks are four games behind the seventh seed Boston, with Milwaukee and Cleveland nipping at their heels for a playoff spot.

If New York can climb out of this hole and win a playoff series, Mike D'Antoni might keep his job. As I try to be optimistic, the reality is that another coach can handle this roster and this city much better than our friend Mike. Another coach can win a playoff series, but not this one.

At this point, he has nothing to lose, because his job is gone. He must go all in (no Lin pun here) and figure out how to manage a deep team that has the ability to win games.