GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- While Steve Novak had his exit interview with Mike Woodson on Thursday at the Knicks' training facility, the sharpshooter can't forget about the impact Mike D'Antoni had on his time in New York.
The offensive-minded coach, who's known for his pick-and-roll, spread-out sets, gave Novak the biggest opportunity of his six-year career to play a significant role, starting right around the time of Linsanity in early February. Novak said from that moment on, he never had that much fun on the court.
"Yeah, absolutely," he said on Thursday. "This is by far the most enjoyable ride I've had playing basketball in a really long time. I think that's largely in part because I felt like I was a big part of the offense and I was help them in games. And that's what you want as a basketball player, to feel like you are a big part of winning games."
Speaking of Lin, whom Jason Kidd at one point compared to Steve Nash, Novak credited him earlier in the season for opening up the offense for more 3-point looks.
"I know that he's turned the ball over a bit, but he's being creative, trying to find the big guys, trying to find the perimeter guys," Novak said back in late Feburary. "He continued to find guys and I think that was huge."
If Lin had played the rest of the regular season, getting more game-time experience under his belt, and was 100 percent healthy against the Heat, his playmaking and penetration would've helped Novak get open a few more times per game. But Novak gave credit to the Heat's swarming defense, especially his former Marquette teammate, Dwyane Wade, for sticking on him like glue.
"I guess as long as the guys in the summer don't get as good or quick as D-Wade, I'm hoping I'll be alright," Novak said, smiling. "But they did a great job of defending us. We knew going in that they take up so much space and they cover ground quickly, and it was going to be a challenge for us. And they did a good job."
What hurt the Knicks' offensive consistency the most, Novak said, were all of the team's DNPs.
"It was frustrating," he said. "I think we know what that series meant. We felt we really had an opportunity to win that series, and not to make excuses, but with injuries and Tyson [Chandler] being sick, I think hurt us along the way. So for us to really never get the offense flowing like we wanted it to was frustrating."
Looking ahead to the offseason, Novak wants to be back as a Knick.
"Like I've said many a million times, there are no greater fans than here in New York," he said. "Growing up in Wisconsin, I always thought Indiana was the home of basketball. I now know that New York is the home of basketball, there is no doubt. They're the smartest. I mean, just getting out there for warmups and seeing the building full. I've never seen that."
With the right point guard, running creative plays, Novak will once again be a dangerous downtown threat next season and for years to come. And if he can further develop his midrange game and moves coming off screens, like a shooting guard, he'll be even better, especially at 6-10. With his quick release at that height, who will be able to defend him?
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