Not, I should stress, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who implies his chain was seriously jerked, but rather, Joey from Straight Banging. After first scoffing at the Knicks’ hiring of former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni (he couldn’t get over the hump with Phoenix’s roster, so why are we to expect that he ever will while coaching teams that will likely never be as talented?”), Joey now insists Donnie Walsh’s acquisition “offers the promise of good-humored restoration. He will restore order, accountability, and professionalism.”
D’Antoni comes across as an amiable, witty guy who respects and loves basketball. He governs a team for which playing basketball is a job and a focus, not merely a means for a paycheck. That is a foreign approach for these Knicks. Routines will be enforced. Responsibilities will be made clear. Repercussions will be meaningful and consistent. The minutiae of the game, the angles that lead to layups and not jump shots–that will become the dialect of the organization. Changing the culture of the team through these sorts of seemingly mundane processes will mean improvement. And as sorry as that is, it’s necessary, and D’Antoni seems like a good fit to help bring about the revolution.
What will D’Antoni do with his roster? I have no clue. Assuming that Donnie Walsh engineers no miracles and that D’Antoni wants to play :07 Second basketball, I’d imagine that he will try to get Stephon Marbury on board, because the team needs a conductor and distributor. After that, were I D’Antoni, I’d try to make Jamal Crawford my destitute man’s Joe Johnson, asking him to spot up along the sidelines and slash for the midrange J’s and the layups when available. Nate Robinson (gulp) would be my Barbosa, an off-the-bench combo guard who’d push the ball and help break down a set defense (I know that this is a reach). I have no clue who will attempt to replicate what the Amares and Shawn Marions and Diaws of the world have done. The Knicks don’t have remotely analogous players, though David Lee can surely apply his hustle game to enhanced effect in a system where running is placed at a premium. And given D’Antoni’s European stylistic lineage, maybe he will find a way to better utilize the shooting range of Zach Randolph.
But the other possibility is that D’Antoni has been brought to New York because he’s a respected pro and because he is a proud basketball radical. Maybe his understanding with Walsh is that aside from insisting upon order and professionalism, there are few rules and he’s given license to play cooky conjurer, doing whatever constructive things he wants in the name of improvement. I don’t know if this will work, and I’d rather not be relying on someone who gets his lunch taken by Pop every spring, but it’ll do for now.