Later, D’Antoni

New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni resigned Wednesday after the team’s shootaround, Yahoo! Sports reports. The New York Post reported Wednesday morning that that Carmelo Anthony wanted a trade because of frustration with the direction of the team under D’Antoni, a rumor the forward denied before the morning shootaround.

The coaching change comes on the heels of a six-game losing streak. The Knicks now sit tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with the Milwaukee Bucks, who bolstered their squad with Tuesday’s addition of shooting guard Monta Ellis.

The 2004-05 Coach of the Year struggled in three-plus seasons with New York, posting a 121-167 record (.420 win percentage). D’Antoni coached the franchise to its first winning season since 2000-01 last year after the team acquired Anthony from the Denver Nuggets.

D’Antoni’s up-tempo offensive coaching style comes at the sacrifice of some defense. The franchise ranks 21st in the league in defensive efficiency and 11th in rebounds allowed by opponents despite the offseason addition of Tyson Chandler, a presumed defensive improvement for a rotation that lacked a true center last season.

Obviously, the coaching style worked to some extent in Phoenix as D’Antoni coached the Suns to four consecutive winning seasons and playoff appearances, but the core of the Suns at the time was much different from the Knicks of today. In the Suns worst winning season under D’Antoni (2005-06 when the team went 54-28), the starting five consisted of Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw, and Kurt Thomas, who took over for an injured Amar’e Stoudemire. Each of those starters posted a defensive rating (DRtg) over 100 points, with an average of 105.4. That means that in 100 possessions, the starting five allows about 105 points. The average offensive rating (ORtg) for this group, though, is 115 points. So in a 200 possession game, the Suns would be expected to outscore their opponents, 115-105. It’s a 10-point difference and every player in the starting five has a positive difference between his offensive and defensive ratings.

The Knicks 2011-12 starting five of Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler, though, do not have the same offensive production. They have an average DRtg of 101.4, which is better than that of the Suns’ team in question. But their ORtg is only 108.6. Now, a 7-point difference compared to a 10-point one is nothing to write home about. That’s not even worth a text message, to be honest. The problem is that outside of Chandler’s 133 ORtg and 99 DRtg, the rest of the starting five is even. Fields has a +1 difference and Lin posts a +2 one, but Anthony stumbles with a -1 and Stoudemire’s mark is simply 0.

It does take time for players to adapt to a system. D’Antoni had two losing seasons with the Suns before the team finally got it. Meanwhile, Anthony played about one year under D’Antoni, Lin played a couple of weeks, and Fields played a year and a half. (Of course, Chandler is in his first season under the coach and seems to get the system well enough.)

Ultimately, the Knicks have a great set of starters. If we continue the comparison to the 2005-06 Suns, obviously any coach would prefer Anthony to Marion, a healthy Stoudemire to Thomas, and Chandlerr to Diaw–Fields and Bell could go either way, and Nash is a former MVP, so of course you would want him over Lin right now. D’Antoni simply was the wrong coach for this group of players. Maybe more time under his system would have benefited some of the starters, but the self-destruction of this team made a coaching change a necessity. The Knicks rode under Lin and the banner of Lin-sanity to a 10-5 record in February. The run reignited the fanbase and made the Knicks the talk of the town–the same city where the New York Giants just won the Super Bowl and the New York Rangers lead the NHL’s Eastern Conference.

To fall from the pride of NYC to the same-old Knicks in a matter of two weeks pretty much forced the front office’s hands. It’s funny, though, that the split was mutual and since D’Antoni resigned, we should be lead to believe that he initiated the change.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports the move may not be a popular one in the Knicks locker room:

“Dolan is blaming the coach,” said a source with knowledge of the Knicks’ locker-room dynamics. “Tyson [Chandler], Baron [Davis], A’mare [Stoudemire] – guys who came to play for Mike – or that system – are pissed. [Jeremy] Lin isn’t happy either.”

Assistant coach Mike Woodson, former head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, will take over head coaching duties in the interim. Woodson coached the Hawks from 2004 to 2010, posting winning seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

Names being mentioned for full-time coach include Phil Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, and John Calipari–which is just the perfect distraction for the Kentucky Wildcats considering I have them in the championship game in my bracket.

Anyways, the Knicks host the Portland Trail Blazers tonight at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 p.m.

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