With Saturday’s loss to Charlotte — their 6th consecutive — dropping the Knicks to 35-38 (and a gruesome 7-12 since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony), the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey would seem to be doing his own Isiah Thomas/Steve Mills impersonation. To wit, the Hoops Du Jour columnist seems to be advising James Dolan it would be a grave mistake to retain head coach Mike D’Antoni (“I would accuse D’Antoni of checking out, but I’m not all sure he ever checked in…taking command of the Knicks’ situation is more than just pacing in front of the bench and clapping hands and shouting encouragement,”) and an equally dopey move to offer a contract extension to ancient veteran PG Chauncey Billups.
After intermission against the Bucks, D’Antoni realized Billups can’t stop Brandon Jennings — his opponent five days earlier, or any fleet-footed caretaker, for that matter — from tap-dancing past him into the paint and creating instantaneous defensive emergencies for the Knicks’ inferior interior.
Considering it was Billups’ eighth game back following six on the shelf due to a thigh bruise (the team was 4-2 with Toney Douglas starting), and 11th overall since his arrival from Denver, it’s fair to figure D’Antoni should’ve picked up sooner on Chauncey’s limitation.
The bigger picture is that D’Antoni never before has had to cook up answers. When Suns GM Steve Kerr insisted he hire a defensive coach to clear up Phoenix’s disaster area, he copped an attitude and a break-up resulted. Resolving offensive dilemmas was easy, of course, because D’Antoni had a coach on the floor in Steve Nash, who could stop a losing streak (more than one possession) on his own.
With the Knicks, submits column contributor John Busacca, “Mike D’s lone expectation as coach was to ‘be better than Isiah Thomas.’ That’s like telling a newly married man to be a ‘better husband than Tiger Woods.’”