While Mark Jackson gets shot with Warriors, Mike D'Antoni is on borrowed time as coach of Knicks

BY [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Originally Published:Tuesday, June 7th 2011, 3:39 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 7th 2011, 10:17 PM


Mike D'Antoni isn't able to replicate his success in Phoenix with the Knicks, where he has a 103-143 record over three seasons and one playoff appearance.

[Only registered and activated users can see links. ] - [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] was poised to hire [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] as his assistant coaches and even return [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] to his old job as head trainer.

From every indication team president [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] had given him, Mark Jackson, the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]-born point guard out of St. John's, was about to become the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ]' next coach in 2008. But then [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] parted ways with [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], and with the league office - which had encouraged [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] to hire Walsh - now pushing Walsh to hire D'Antoni, Jackson's dream job was finished.

Three years later, the career paths of Jackson and Walsh have crossed again. Jackson got his big coaching break with the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] Monday, while Walsh announced on Friday that he is stepping down as Knicks president on June 30. And the way things are going, D'Antoni, the coach Walsh picked ahead of Jackson, won't be far behind.

Mark Jackson is hired as Warriors' coach.


It's hard to say if Walsh would have survived longer had he trusted his instincts and went with the player who helped him reach his only [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] with the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] in 2000. Dolan was still going to have a relationship with [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] no matter who was coaching the Knicks.

It would have been easy for the Knicks to sell Jackson, despite him having zero experience on the bench. He would have played a more traditional style, one that emphasizes defense. That's a style Walsh favors.

Walsh's best Pacers teams were big and physical. But he went with D'Antoni, who places an emphasis on playing small and quick with defense an afterthought. By the end of D'Antoni's second year, Walsh was telling people close to him that he had made a mistake.

D'Antoni was clearly the safe pick because of his success in Phoenix. Plus, the Knicks were selling him to the fans and the media by claiming that D'Antoni, an assistant coach with the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] national team, had developed strong relationships with the top American players.

The theory was that free agents would stampede to New York to play for D'Antoni, with [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] leading the charge. But for all the talk, only one came.

And that player, [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], signed on the dotted line because the Knicks were offering $30 million more than the Suns were willing to pay. Moreover, D'Antoni wanted the Knicks to sign [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] and, according to sources, cautioned Walsh about investing in Stoudemire, with whom he had a contentious relationship in Phoenix.

D'Antoni himself wasn't sold on New York. His first choice was to join the [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], but in the end he chased the Knicks' money. In his gut, D'Antoni knew he was making the wrong move and he felt even worse when the Bulls won the draft lottery and selected [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].

Now, D'Antoni is doing everything he can to save himself. He recently confirmed a Daily News report from May that he is considering hiring a defensive coach. His refusal to do so in Phoenix - he could have had current Bulls coach [Only registered and activated users can see links. ] - was one of the reasons D'Antoni had a falling out with Suns management.

And for two years, D'Antoni would become downright belligerent when it was suggested that bringing in someone to run the defense might be in the team's best interest.

After all this time, D'Antoni realizes that such a move is in his best interests.
He owed it to the organization, the players and Walsh to do that from Day 1. It's too late now. Walsh is gone, .D'Antoni is working on borrowed time and, three years after he was ready to come to work for Walsh at [Only registered and activated users can see links. ], Mark Jackson finally gets to prove if he has the chops to be an NBA head coach.

[Only registered and activated users can see links. ]
- - - - - - - - -
Good read, right?

I was rooting for Mark Jax to get the gig. I was never happy-excited about the move to hire Donnie Walsh. I felt Colangelo was the best fit.

I was really down on Walsh, and it confirmed my fears, when he hired Mike D'antoni. D'antoni didn't have the "Walsh way" and his sytem was the opposite of what Donnie (and NY) appreciates on the hard court.

Mainly, though, I felt D'antoni followed the money and that left a bad taste in my mouth; and Walsh chased the flashy name even though it appeared to be in contrast with what he represented. Odd marriage indeed. One I was never on board with.

D'antoni wanted to be in Chicago. He only came to NY b/c of the money, and to the naked eye it was obvious: his heart was never in this gig.

From th Duhon-Marbury fiasco, D'antoni almost seemed to go out of his way to alienate people. Drafting his godson, his infatuation with Jared Jefries, his rotation and substitution patterns... It all left a bad taste in my mouth.

It was like he was a bitter middle-aged man who married a high school fling b/c he got her pregnant and thought it was best to do so. On some level, he's been abusing the Knicks ever since. It must be b/c of his regret... Especially after CHI won the lottery... Dantoni knew right then that he made a mistake, and NY was not where he was supposed to be.

BACK TO WALSH.... It took less than 2 seasons to realize he made the wrong decision hiring D'antoni. HE KNEW IT. SO THIS FLIES AGAINST THE NOTION that coach came here knowing he would lose for 2 years, knowing the cards were stacked against him, and that the team would be gutted. It was more than the losing... and our GM understood that.

He failed to develop young players, he failed to play them at times, and he wouldn't teach them to be complete basketball players. Barely practiced... he just went through the motions. AGAIN, the GM who was privy to everything on the inside saw this.

And then it brings us back to MD's style of play... It wont cut it in the NBA. NO WAY we stop MIA with MD trying to outscore 6-3-1.

D'antoni wanted BOSH over AMAR'E! What more can you say?

SO... we'll find out what MD is all about this season. Spolstra was in the same boat as MD in 2009-2010... He got MIA in the playoffs those years anyway, despite the cost cutting... LOOK AT PHI this year... MD has yet, in 3 years, to exceed even the lowest of low expectations.

He know has 2 legit superstars. He will, and should, get 1 year to prove his worth. 50 wins and a top 4 seed, plus a first round win and a competitive second round... THIS IS THE BAR.

Walsh already regrets hiring MD. Will we pay for that mistake 1 more year? Or will MD finally put his heart... 100 percent... into coaching the Knicks? I would guess so: his job and reputation are now on the line. Time to forget about CHI Mike!