Management, the coaching staff and the players know Anthony is hurting the offense and in turn, the defensive morale, according to the sources. While D'Antoni's offense calls for Anthony to plant himself on the wing at the 3-point line, he often creeps in to his favorite spot in the floor -- the area between the elbow, the arc and the post. That kills the Knicks' ability to run the high pick-and-roll and ruins the spacing that is so critical to D'Antoni's offense.
"That's at the very core of our problem," one person close to the situation said. "That messes up the fluidity of the offense. Melo could do it, but he's got to trust the offense."
When Anthony first returned -- and it still appears to be the case -- Lin would bring the ball upcourt and try to run D'Antoni's system. When Anthony would abandon the offense, Lin would not pass him the ball, which irritated Anthony, sources said. So when Lin tried to talk to Anthony on the court, Anthony would turn his back to the point guard and tune him out. The two never had heated exchanges, though, and the players tried to come to a compromise, agreeing to run D'Antoni's system while also mixing in post-ups for Anthony
"But it's just a mess because D'Antoni's system is not designed for that," one source said.
Despite his often poor body language, many of the players believe Anthony is trying to adjust and sincerely wants to win. He has told people close to him that he is being asked to do things he's never done, saying that throughout his career he has always had plenty of post-up opportunities and that he is uncomfortable standing on the wing spacing the floor.
"Half the team is trying to do what coach says and the other half is doing something different," one source said. "Then it spills over to the defensive end because players are (ticked) off about somebody taking a bad shot."
With Anthony sapping the energy from the offense, the players often lose their incentive to play defense. But even when he's trying to play defense, [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...]
struggles. Having spent almost his entire career in D'Antoni's non-defensive system, Stoudemire has trouble making defensive reads and rotations. Anthony knows what to do defensively, but simply refuses to do it consistently, the sources said.
Some players believe D'Antoni had the leverage to force Anthony to adjust to his system when he first returned from injury. The Knicks were rolling, showing they could win without Anthony, and their fan base was believing in D'Antoni's system. If D'Antoni had checked Anthony, perhaps even benching him, when he strayed from the offense, the players and fans would have been behind the coach and Anthony would have had no choice but to conform. But D'Antoni, ever the one to avoid confrontation with his players, would not do it, and now it's too late. That's when he lost the locker room for good.
Now, the players believe they need a coach who will hold players, especially the stars like Anthony and Stoudemire, accountable, the sources said. They do not believe D'Antoni is willing or able to do it.
On top of that, [Only registered and activated users can see images. Click Here To Register...], who just returned from a back injury, is unhappy with his limited role as Lin's backup. Davis, averaging just 17 minutes a game, has already spoken to D'Antoni about giving him more playing time, according to the sources. While Lin wants to run D'Antoni's system, Davis is more in line with running the offense through Anthony and Stoudemire, the sources said.
"The only way this is going to work is if we have a coach that will hold Melo accountable and teach Melo, Amare and Jeremy how to play winning basketball," a source said.