Whenever there is a new owner or new general manager coming in, you get the feeling they are preparing to clean house. They want their guy and to make their stamp on the franchise.
The New York Knicks are headed that way with the news Donnie Walsh is stepping aside after he and Knicks owner James Dolan could not come to an agreement. Mike D’Antoni certainly could be feeling in hot water after the general manager that brought him in left and questions began flying at D’Antoni after the Celtics swept the Knicks.
But he isn’t.
The NBA coach every player seems to want to play for and yet cannot win in the postseason does not feel like his job is in jeopardy. He told the New York Post:
“No, I feel good,” D’Antoni said. “I hate it Donnie is leaving. I owe a lot to him. We had three good years. He did exactly what he wanted and said he would do and he’s got us in position to be one of the better teams in the NBA next year. That’s to his credit.
“We worked well together. I appreciate his support and I feel good about us having a great year next season. It’s all a coach can ask for, to have him give me that chance. He’s put me in that position.”
Walsh will remain in the front office as an advisor and will surely still go to bat for his friend and coach. But with the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony and the always testy New York media and fans, expectations are higher and everyone is going to be expecting a little bit more from D’Antoni’s team. There will be many who believe a team of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire should be good enough to be in the top half of the East, no matter how little defense they actually play.
D’Antoni has done an incredible job with the Knicks notwithstanding those heightened expectations. He came to a team that was clearing cap hoping to snag one of the prized free agents of 2010. He had an over-performing team that was destined to fall short of the playoffs.
Once Stoudemire came aboard, it was clear the Knicks were a playoff team. But they were not over the hump. In stepped the big trade that gutted many of the young players on the rosters and brought in Carmelo Anthony. Now there was an entirely different team mid-season. The Knicks still made the playoffs as the six seed (not really changing spots pre-trade) and were swept.
New York fans are expecting better in 2012 and holding out hope that Chris Paul or Deron Williams will consider the Big Apple.
Knicks fans do like to dream big. The question is: if New York takes a step back, will D’Antoni be there to enjoy it?
Photo via DayLife.com