New York Knicks: Time to Fire Mike D'Antoni

Leslie MonteiroSenior Analyst IApril 25, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22:  Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks reacts against the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

It’s been three years for Mike D’Antoni as the Knicks coach.

From evaluating D’Antoni in his time with the Knicks, it hasn’t been good. This should convince the organization to fire him and hire a coach that can take the team to the next level, which would be taking the team to the Eastern Conference Finals or even winning a playoff game.

In this weekend’s playoff games against the Celtics, the blowouts served as a reflection of the job the Knicks coach has done in three years. The Knicks don’t play defense, and they often play flat to start the game. It is no wonder teams don’t take them seriously as a championship contender.

It was a curious move by Donnie Walsh to hire D’Antoni as coach. There’s no question the Knicks thought the former Suns coach would serve as a recruiting tool for LeBron James and other stars to play for the Knicks. After all, he ran a high-octane offense that made the Suns successful prior to coming here.

Still, there were more cons than pros about the hiring of D’Antoni. For one thing, the Suns were quick to let him go without compensation. Second of all, he couldn’t lead the Suns to a championship despite having the talents of Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and other great players. Finally, he was criticized for not doing enough to coach defense.

It’s hard to come up with anything positive about D’Antoni. Sure, he led the Knicks to the playoffs, but the Celtics’ playoff sweep against his team negates everything good that took place his year.

D’Antoni’s inability to coach defense should be enough to get him fired. No one should be the head coach of a basketball team if he doesn’t know anything about defense. In basketball, teams win championships and playoff games by playing defense.

Defense should not be an option. It should be served as a mindset from practice to games. It should be served as an identity.

When the Knicks were great under Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy, it was defense first. The team would focus on knocking guys down on the floor, getting stops, and creating turnovers. They would create their offense by defense.

That’s not how D’Antoni views it. He feels a great offense can beat a great defense. That’s a flawed thinking. It’s hard to run an offense when someone gets knocked down.

He has no interest in changing his approach. He is stubborn enough to think his way can work despite the fact no teams won a championship without playing a defense.

If that is not enough to convince the organization, there are several more issues that should do the trick.

Under D’Antoni, the Knicks showed lack of urgency at games. They are often ill-prepared to play the game, and they get outworked by inferior teams.

Great teams rarely do either of those things. They get off to great starts, and they use that to help them set the tone to victories. They use it to help them survive when another team makes a run.  They make sure there is no letdown against bad teams.

The players mirror a coach’s image. With D’Antoni’s laidback personality, the players follow that lead by being complacent at games and at practice.  This results to a team being lazy and unfocused, and it sets the tone for losses.

An intense coach has his players being hungry from start to finish at games, and it sets the tone for victories.

The slow starts and bad losses have been a trend under D’Antoni’s leadership for three years, and it stood out this weekend in the Knicks’ two home losses in the playoffs, which helped the Celtics sweep the Knicks.

D’Antoni’s game coaching leaves a lot to be desired. He never makes adjustments in the second half. He runs a flawed offensive philosophy, which allows guys to shoot three pointers often. Often times, he would fall a step behind another coach, who knows how to frustrate the Knicks’ scorers by running a good defense.

Defensive coaches always get thebest out of him by preventing any fast-break offense, and that leaves the Knicks coach clueless to find an answer.

When the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony in February, it turned out to be rough sledding for D’Antoni. There was a disconnect between him and his new star. It seemed the coach wasn’t thrilled about coaching his new player, and the new Knick didn’t seem to embrace his new coach.

Anthony had a hard time understanding D’Antoni’s run-n-gun offense, and he wasn’t happy about playing in that offense. That inspired Amar’e Stoudemire to call his new teammate out after a loss to the Pistons.

D’Antoni had to scrap his offense, so that he could make Anthony happy. Still, it didn’t work out for both of them in the end.

Anthony needs a coach who he respects a great deal. He needs a guy who will get the best out of his talent. That’s important, since the Knicks are committed to keeping him for a long time.

This is where D’Antoni could lose out. His inability to work with Anthony could cost him his job. It may be for the best for everyone involved.

This gives the Knicks a chance to find a new coach. This would help Anthony start off fresh. This would mean D’Antoni can get a new start elsewhere.

D’Antoni had three years to prove his worth. Based on his flaws as coach, there’s no reason for him to get another year.  The Knicks haven’t won with him, and they are not going to win a championship with him. He's taken the team as far as he can.

It makes sense to start fresh with a new star.