Schmeelk: New Knicks Coach, Same Knicks Problems
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By John Schmeelk
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I stood on line waiting to check out of the Bellagio when I got the news: Mike D’Antoni resigns from Knicks. Whether it was an actual resignation or a firing, the bottom line is that management had to choose between Mike D’Antoni and Carmelo Anthony. It should come as no surprise that Anthony won. The coach never had a chance.
The superstar always wins in these situations, but considering Carmelo’s contract, the bounty the team traded to get him, and D’Antoni’s lame duck status, this confrontation was an outright massacre. The truth of the matter is that D’Antoni had to sell Carmelo on his style to stay on as Knicks coach. He couldn’t, whether because of constantly rotating personnel, Carmelo’s stubbornness, or the lack of a firm hand. That’s why he’s gone.
It has become abundantly clear that Anthony needs a coach with clout, a loud voice, and authority to get the best out of him. Some stars don’t need such guidance, but he does. D’Antoni and his “let them play” mentality allowed Carmelo to show his bad habits. Confrontation wasn’t part of D’Antoni’s style, but it needed to be.
The sad thing is that it won’t come from Mike Woodson either, who is only a placeholder. Players will have little reason to respect the interim head coach. If reports are true, D’Antoni still had a lot of support in that locker room, led by Amar’e Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin and Jared Jeffries. I would imagine Tyson Chandler, the team’s true leader, had the coach’s back as well. How is that faction going to play with Carmelo, knowing he more or less got Mike D’Antoni fired? The locker room, which was already mess, might just get worse.
This season, if the Knicks want to salvage it, requires a player to take control of this ship and it needs to be Tyson Chandler. He has the leadership skills and the hardware. Players will listen to him. He needs to hold a players only meeting and get this group in line. The team has to buy into whatever Woodson is selling. Woodson in turn must be very firm and strong in his convictions. He must bench those that deserve it and be a true disciplinarian.
Next season, the Knicks must hire a head coach and give him real authority to run this team as he sees fit. Until that happens, this will never get fixed. I’ll have more on this move in the coming days. The consequences are truly far reaching on and off the court. The Knicks are again at a crossroads, and all too familiar position in the last decade.
And one other note. In their infinite wisdom the Knicks decided to send out playoff invoices today. Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up. Only the Knicks. Something else I’ve found myself saying way too much the last ten years.
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