D'Antoni's Departure Puts Carmelo on the Hot Seat

You can blame Carmelo Anthony for the Knicks recent failures as much as D'Antoni

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Mike D'Antoni may have resigned as Knicks head coach, but whether Knicks fans want to admit it or not, Carmelo Anthony deserves the greatest share of the blame for the team's failings right now.

    Remember the halcyon days of Linsanity? There were moments in February when MSG stock soared, the Knicks reeled off wins, sold merchandise by the boxful, and Lin captured the world's heart for myriad -- all of them wonderful -- reasons.

    It wasn't going to last forever. Of course not. But remember how ridiculous it sounded at the time that Anthony -- New York's native son! -- could come back and derail the good thing the Knicks had going?

    Of course he couldn't. He'd love playing with Lin, D'Antoni would figure out a way to involve him in the offense that would be win-win for everyone, and the Knicks would continue their surge to the playoffs.

    Or not: Melo returned to the lineup on Feb. 20 and since then, the Knicks have won exactly two games. They're winless in March and maybe some of that has to do with scheduling -- the teams they've played since Melo's return are substantially tougher than the teams the Knicks beat up on during the height of Linsanity.

    But schedules are beside the point. According to multiple reports, locker-room issues (or, if you prefer a more accurate term, "mutiny") was the biggest issue, with Melo ultimately refusing to bend his game to D'Antoni's style.

    Of course, reports aren't required to figure that out. A friendly application of the old eye test would tell you that the Knicks weren't playing as a team and that they were a group of children ignoring their lame-duck chaperon before wandering off into the woods. The eye test would tell you that Melo wasn't going to fit into D'Antoni's system, ever.

    Melo can pretend that it wasn't him and that D'Antoni lost the locker room. No one's going to try and give D'Antoni credit for an 18-24 start. But the portrait that will be painted of D'Antoni -- that he can't win the big one or whatever that means -- is just inaccurate.

    The now-former Knicks coach won, and he won big, while in Phoenix. He had his moments with the Knicks, but the obsession with acquiring Anthony ultimately derailed his chances of succeeding with the Knicks roster for two straight years.

    Melo can deny the dysfunction. And he can deny the trade rumors. He can even enjoy playing in Mike Woodson's style of offense, which should offer him up as many isolation plays and fade-away jumpers as he could ever want.

    Maybe Melo will even put the team on his back the way he did when Syracuse won Jim Boeheim's only title in 2002-03 and lead the Knicks to the playoffs.

    It would be an impressive albeit unlikely feat. But it doesn't make his inability to adapt to his situation in New York any less problematic. But maybe this all just means that Melo is a perfect fit for the Knicks after all.