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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

D'Antoni, Parcells, Showalter and Pedro

For the record, I love the Mike D'Antoni hire.

Seems to me that the biggest objection has been something along these lines:

But his fast-paced system won't work with Stephon and Curry and Randolph!
This is true. It's also irrelevant. No offensive system... not Tex Winters' triangle, not John Calipari's dribble-drive, not coach Norman Dale's "four passes before a shot" would be successful with this mismatched mess of a roster.

(Incidentally, Jimmy Chitwood would be a tremendous D'Antoni player.)

When you're as bad as the Knicks, and an "Extreme Makeover" is coming... you don't hire the coach to match the roster you have. You hire a coach for the roster you're planning.

It also seems worth noting that -- as several other writers have pointed out -- a good portion of the Knick roster is actually very well suited to an up-tempo game, including:
  • Jamal Crawford
  • David Lee
  • Renaldo Balkman
  • Nate Robinson
  • Jared Jeffries
  • Wilson Chandler
Well look at that... that's actually the bulk of the rotation.

But there's another reason I love the hire. Even if D'Antoni isn't the coach to get the Knicks over the top, he instantly brings credibility that had none.

It's worked before.
  • In 1997, the New York Jets, coming off a 4-28 run with Rich Kotite leading the team, hired Bill Parcells away from the Patriots. Parcells led the Jets to a 9-7 record in year one and the AFC Championship Game in year two.
  • In 1992, the Yankees replaced the hopelessly overmatched Stump Merrill with Buck Showalter. Showalter -- along with a number of key players like Paul O'Neill -- really changed the team's culture. Showalter was let go after a first-round loss in the '95 playoffs, but had set the groundwork for Joe Torre's run of four World Series titles.
  • In 2004, the New York Mets signed Pedro Martinez away from the Red Sox. The contract was panned by many -- though Martinez was an elite pitcher, the length of the deal (4 years, $53 million) and his slight build all but guaranteed that the Mets would be overpaying in the later years... but the addition of one of the game's best pitchers proved that the Mets were serious about contending, and may have led to later free agent signings like Carlos Beltran.
Does Mark Jackson give the Knicks instant credibility? Sorry, but no. Everybody thinks Jackson will be a great coach... and I'm inclined to agree. But what are they basing that on, really? He's never coached at any level. He was an excellent point guard...

But Isiah Thomas was better.

Maybe D'Antoni won't work out. Maybe in three years, after a heartbreaking loss in the second round of the playoffs, the Knicks -- led by LeBron James or Chris Bosh -- will need to make a change and bring in someone with a stronger defensive resume.

After the Isiah Thomas years, that's a good problem to have.


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