Saturday , Jan , 21 , 2012 Paul Eide

Can Baron Davis Save Mike D’Antoni?

How much more Mike D’Antoni can the Knicks and the city of New York stomach? With his arrival, Knicks fans were promised to never again feel the way they are feeling now.

When D’Antoni left the Suns for NY, expectations were understandably high. D’Antoni, like his coaching style, is completely passive aggressive which is why it’s hard to be sympathetic or understanding. The Knicks have lost five in a row and are averaging just 88.4 ppg during that streak. They’ve been held below 100 points in seven straight games, tying their worst stretch since D’Antoni became their coach.


Cleaning up after Isaiah Thomas was obviously an epic mess that no one wanted to have to deal with. D’Antoni has been given critical pieces that he requested. What’s so frustrating for Knicks fans is that the optimism felt from four years ago has yet to materialize itself on the floor. Every year is supposed to be “the year”. They get Amar’e. Then the get Carmelo and Chauncey later in the year. This year they bring in Tyson Chandler.


It feels like every year, a big name player is added to the roster and seemingly nothing changes, which is why I would be frustrated as a Knicks fan hearing the latest spate of Steve Nash rumors potentially having him in NYC next year.


But is that really the case?  Does D’Antoni really deserve to be on the hot seat?


The roster has been completely overhauled in the nearly four years he has been head coach. His first year as coach he leads the Knicks to a nine win improvement, which to Knicks fans at the time still reeling from Thomas, felt like a 30 win improvement. The next year is a step back, losing three more games than the previous season.


But last year, they win 42 games (their most since 2000-01) and actually make the playoffs. Consider where the Knicks as an organization were coming from post Isaiah- if this were a coach for any other team then the Knicks, wouldn’t the fan base would be thrilled at that kind of turnaround?


Prior to last season the Knicks had made the playoffs just once in nine years. So if you fire D’Antoni now, who do you hire? And do you really want to start the whole thing over again? D’Antoni is the sixth head coach for the Knicks since 2002-03.


Amazingly (and sadly), Carmelo leads the Knicks in assists with 4.3 per game. Which makes it more evident than ever that the Knicks need one more piece- particularly in the front court- and D’Antoni better hope that an aged Baron Davis is that one piece.


We’ve heard the excuses; we know that his “system” needs a productive PG to be successful. Even in only 29 mpg last season, Davis averaged almost 7 apg along with 13.1 ppg. More than anything, the offense needs consistency at PG and the veteran Davis could bring that immediately. And immediately may be as soon as before the end of January.


“When he’s cleared and feels good, he’s going to start playing. I think he’ll be able to fit in pretty quickly. I think he’ll start doing what he does immediately,” said D’Antoni earlier this week. “He’s getting closer.”


Mike D’Antoni better hope so. Because the Knicks need to start winning immediately. Or he could be out of a job, fair or not.  


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