Mike D'Antoni is gone. That may be good news for Knicks fans, but there's another ramification of his departure.
All the pressure on the Knicks to perform now shifts to someone else.
Mike Woodson? Not really. Yes, Woodson's future as a head coach in New York City does rest on his ability to get results from a loaded Knicks roster that D'Antoni was unable to take advantage of. Luckily for Woodson, the bar has been set fairly low.
All Woodson really needs to do is get the Knicks above .500 and into the playoffs, and regardless of whether the Knicks keep him or not, his reputation will remain in good standing throughout the league.
Even if the Knicks don't make the playoffs, the situation that Woodson was handed was so dysfunctional that harmonious play and a decent record would still be a nice accomplishment.
The pressure is on one Carmelo Anthony.
Correctly or incorrectly, the perception is that while D'Antoni was certainly the wrong man for the job in New York, his job was made that much more difficult by Anthony's presence. Anthony's reputation is beginning to take on that of other famous stars who have allegedly had a hand in coaches being fired. In fact Anthony's reaction has a familiar ring to it.
“There’s no bad blood between myself, Mike D’Antoni, the guys on the team or anything like that. We respect his decision. He said he did what was best for the team at this point in time right now.”—Carmelo Anthony via The New York Times, 3/14/12
"It was not Doug Collins' and Michael Jordan's relationship, because he and I were getting closer as we spent more time together. When people say Michael Jordan had something to do with Doug Collins` getting fired, that doesn`t have any validity to it," Jordan said in television interviews from Greensboro, NC.
"I don't know exactly the reasoning for the firing of Doug Collins. I just saw him last evening, and I approached him as 'Coach,' but that is something between management and Doug Collins," Jordan added.—Michael Jordan via The Chicago Tribune, 7/7/89
The coach who followed in Doug Collins' footsteps was named Phil Jackson. The results of Jackson's arrival in Chicago were stunning.
In his first season the Bulls lost to the Pistons in the playoffs. In his second season, the Bulls beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals. It was the first of six NBA titles the Chicago Bulls would win with Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson leading the way.
More than 20 years later, Carmelo Anthony may need exactly the same thing that Michael Jordan needed. Unfortunately for Knicks fans, Anthony while very talented, is not Michael Jordan. But this Knicks roster has a lot of talent not named "Carmelo Anthony" on it.
The Knicks are already being unofficially linked to Phil Jackson. There's been no official statement regarding Jackson's future plans. Technically he's retired as of last May, when the Lakers bowed out of the playoffs in a disappointing loss to the Mavericks.
Retirements aren't always permanent though.
Anthony doesn't specifically need Phil Jackson, but he does need to get some postseason success under his belt. He has a 16-34 career record in the postseason. Not exactly the type of record that screams "winner."
Phil Jackson has a career postseason coaching record of 229-104, with a record 11 NBA championships under his belt. If Anthony really wants to get a reputation as a star that doesn't just score but also wins, he'd be hard-pressed to get a better coach than Phil Jackson.