| 5 years ago||
New York Knicks Problems Bigger than coach
Fact: Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are in decline. I predict a coaching change won't cure that problem.
Mike D'Antoni's ouster (technically, he resigned) is something of a last gasp to rescue what is rapidly becoming the NBA's version of the Herschel Walker trade. Connect the dots and Denver could potentially have eight rotation players from last season's Carmelo Anthony trade: Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Fernandez, Andre Miller, Kosta Koufos, Jordan Hamilton, Timofey Mozgov and 2014 and 2016 first-round picks from the Knicks. Convert the draft picks into anything useful and the Nuggets could beat the Knicks just with the players they got in the trade.
As many have noted, the Melo-and-Mike show was not a great fit. Mike D'Antoni is a pick-and-roll, space-the-floor guy. Carmelo Anthony is a midpost iso, turn-and-face guy. The only thing they agree on is the unimportance of defense. This marriage was destined to fail from the start, which is one of many reasons for D'Antoni's reported opposition to the trade.
Yet that unusual mix has buried the much larger and more worrisome story in New York. Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have maximum contracts for three years after this one. Regardless of who is coaching, they need to produce at something approaching max caliber for the Knicks to have much success, as the very nature of their contracts (and Tyson Chandler's) all but requires New York to surround them with rookies and minimum guys.
And this season, those two just aren't anywhere close to that level. Stoudemire's decline has been more jarring and more widely documented, but Melo has lost substantial juice too.
Blame it on D'Antoni? Not so fast. Anthony has thrived in D'Antoni's system before. Remember, he played in the same offense for 27 games last season and averaged 26.3 points on 46.1 percent shooting; in the first two playoff games in Boston he was so torrid that the Celtics started doubling him any time he caught the ball closer than Vermont.
This season? Same system, same coach, but 32 games of sheer ugliness: 21.3 points, 40 percent shooting, more turnovers, fewer free throws.
It's tough to pin that on D'Antoni unless you can prove that somebody else was coaching last spring. It's tougher still when you remember Anthony played in largely the same system for Team USA in the summers.
Don't put this on Jeremy Lin, either. Anthony hasn't played poorly only with Lin; he's been consistently subpar with everybody, in every situation, for the entire season. While the Knicks' recent losing streak has been the part under the microscope, Anthony has been depressingly average all season. To wit:
• He shot 39.3 percent in January, 39.8 percent in February and 38.9 percent in March.
• He's at 40.1 percent at home and 39.9 percent on the road.
• He shoots 39.8 percent with Lin, 39.9 percent with Iman Shumpert and 40.1 percent with everybody else, according to NBA.com's new whizbang stats tool.
Change the conditions any way you want basically: He has been a 40 percent shooter this season, and scouts will tell you that he's not getting the same lift or explosion he used to. That is a much bigger problem than whether he's breaking plays in D'Antoni's offense.
It seems a bit early for Anthony to begin declining, since he's only 27. But he has a big frame for a wing and isn't a great outside shooter; historically, players like this have tended to peak earlier.
And it's a double concern because Stoudemire has clearly lost much of the explosive first step that made him such a tough cover for opposing bigs. This was a major worry when New York signed him because of his two microfractures, and it's why neither Phoenix nor any other club was willing to give him the five-year, $95 million contract the Knicks did. Stoudemire's decline has been as visible defensively as offensively; whereas he used to rely on freakish athleticism to overcome fundamental mistakes, now he just makes mistakes from which he can't recover. Again, he put up great numbers for D'Antoni a season ago, but has declined rapidly this season.
So the Knicks will cross their fingers and hope it was the coaching, but there's no strong reason to believe this. Mike Woodson takes over, and based on his history in Atlanta will tilt the offense much toward isos for Melo and away from pick-and-rolls with Lin, which is a bit ironic given that the Knicks' only sustained success this season came with a Lin-centric approach.
But that's how they roll in New York; it's all about big names and winning the news conference. They'll worry about fitting the pieces some other year. For now they'll see if Woodson can salvage their season with a playoff berth and then throw their bankroll at Phil Jackson over the summer.
That's all window dressing. The crux of the problem remains that they're paying max contracts to two forwards who don't appear to be max players anymore. Coaching can't fix that
[pic - click to view]
He is 100 percent right,
[pic - click to view] New York Knicks problems bigger than coach - ESPN