D'ANTONI'S TIME IS UPBy Ian Begley
The Knicks' first-round loss to the Celtics highlighted plenty of shortcomings for Donnie Walsh's team. Assuming Walsh re-signs with the Knicks, the 70-year-old exec will address this offseason the need for a new center, a new point guard (backup or starter) and some more scoring off the bench. He should also consider looking for a new coach.
Mike D'Antoni has done his job. He's filled a seat on the bench while Walsh crafted a roster that made the Knicks relevant again. But if Walsh wants to win a championship in his native city, he has to replace D'Antoni. D'Antoni still has a year on his contract, so replacing him in the offseason will be difficult. But there also may be some intriguing options out there.
Doc Rivers may take next season to watch his son, Austin, play at Duke. What if Walsh offered him a chance to coach the team to a title he never had the chance to win as a player? Rivers would at the very least have to seriously consider it.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson is retiring at the end of the year. He has said that he doesn't want to return to coaching. But the opportunity to coach Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire and end the Knicks' 28-year title drought may be too much to pass up.
You feel for D'Antoni. With all of the rebuilding, he's really had to coach six different teams in three seasons. But the Knicks have never and will never be fully committed on the defensive end under D'Antoni. And defense wins in the playoffs. Donnie Walsh knows this. Maybe it's time to start looking for someone who coaches it.
D'AN DESERVES TO STAY PUTBy Jared Zwerling
While hard critics of Mike D'Antoni will focus on the Knicks getting swept as the main reason for him to get the ax, that's not a fair gauge of how to grade him looking ahead. First of all, you've got to keep in mind that the Knicks were without a true point guard for most of the first round, and they only had a 50 percent Amare Stoudemire in Game 3 and a 75 percent STAT in Game 4.
Look at what the Knicks were able to do in Games 1 and 2, especially in the first game. For all the flack D'Antoni got during the regular season for being too focused on offense, he got his guys to have their third-best defensive output of the season, holding the Celtics to 87 points. And that same approach continued in Game 2, as the Celtics barely won.
Going up against an experienced, former championship team, the Knicks, even with a newer-look squad that played only 28 regular-season games together, held their own in their first two playoff games in seven years. Unfortunately, injuries doomed them the rest of the way.
To be fair to D'Antoni, also, the Knicks are clearly missing an inside presence, where the Celtics hurt them all series. They beat the Bockers on the boards, outscored them in the paint (credit to Kevin Garnett) and controlled second-chance opportunities, which allowed Rajon Rondo to run circles around the Knicks' defense and find Ray Allen and Paul Pierce open on the wings.
The Knicks had to give up a lot to get Carmelo Anthony, but now they have a superstar one-two punch to build from, including Stoudemire. STAT even said it'll be easier to recruit players to come to New York. Donnie Walsh now has to deliver his sideline boss a franchise center to work with, and D'Antoni must be given at least a half season to see what he can do.