Mike D'Antoni. New York Knicks.
I don't understand it. It boggles my mind. If you haven't been keeping up with league news, or just came back from a coma five minutes ago, Mike D'Antoni was heralded in as the new head coach of the New York Knicks on Tuesday. And if you came back from that coma without any brain damage, you'd also agree this, at least as of right now, seems like a ludicrous decision on D'Antoni's part.
I was always told that money can't buy you happiness, but apparently D'Antoni saw something to smile at when presented with a $24 million contract, running four years.
No offense to Knicks fans out there, but the club is in shambles, has no noticeable talent, and even lacks the heart that's prevalent in such underdog stories (except Lee, natch). And it is this cesspool of failure that Mike D'Antoni has chosen to forsake his 58-win-average Suns to coach. Let's examine just a few of reasons why my mind still reels:
A) The first thing D'Antoni did when handed the reigns of the Phoenix Suns was axe Stephon Marbury. He obviously saw that 'Starbury' was an unmitigated disaster in waiting and gave him the ol' heave ho' before he did to the Suns what he did to the Knicks for the past two seasons. By taking up this coaching position, he not only gets saddled with 'Scarbury' (thanks to scarring the Knicks' reputation for the foreseeable future), he gets burdened with the remainder of the lowly one's $42 million, two year contract. I don't see any other team stepping up to the plate and picking up the tab, and that's too big a cheque to write to buy Marbury out.
B) D'Antoni is a great offensive coach. In fact, it's pretty much the only thing he's known for. An all offense, maybe some defense, pedigree is not one the current Knick's lineup was built for. To be fair, I don't think the current Knicks roster itself knows what kind of game they were built for. A prerequisite for thriving in such a high octane system is the talent to actually score more than your opponents, at a faster clip. This past season the Knickerbockers were 25th in the league in points differential at a transcendent -6.61, with 96.92 per. The Suns needed over 110 per to sustain their pace. Trust me when I say this - the Knicks, as they are, could never dream of getting there.
C) (Though technically B2) D'Antoni is going to lose. He will be below 500 next season, something he hasn't experienced since before he left for Europe and the year he came back. I'll admit, though reluctantly, that I have no experience as a professional coach, but I would assume that one would not willingly choose to leave a winning franchise (his contract was still in effect) to a team that's in a major transitional phase. Could this mean the rumors of Kerr having a hand in it be true? Who knows. That's not the point, though. What matters is that D'Antoni won't be a winning coach again for at least two season, and even then he'll never be able to reach the heights his Suns got him to again.
This article may sound greatly offensive to the Knicks hardcore, but even they have to admit I'm right about the Knicks as they are right now. Getting D'Antoni is great news for New York basketball fans, actually, because he'll at least bring with him a basketball philosophy that is inherently fun to watch. The Knicks needed a good coach after the Isiah debacle, and there really aren't many better than D'Antoni.
But this isn't about the Knicks and their fans. This is about D'Antoni choosing to forego a title shot for the foreseeable future for nothing more than a larger contract.