Mike D'Antoni Should Be Worried

Another bad weekend has everyone boiling about the Knicks and their coach

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, Jan 30, 2012  |  Updated 8:54 AM EDT
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D'Antoni's Got Worry

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Peace signs won't fix this mess.

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If there was a theme for the Knicks' weekend -- besides brutal losing streak continues and threatens Mike D'Antoni's job, obviously -- it would have been "Back to School."

Playing without Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks took on the guise of school clubs in their losses to Miami and Houston. The guise they tried on in Miami was a bit more entertaining.

Facing a talented Heat squad, the Knicks decided to play the role of 15th seeds trying for a first-round upset in the NCAA Tournament by shooting threes often enough to knock off the big, bad championship contender. They couldn't do much to stop LeBron and Wade from pulling out some gems from their bag of dunking tricks, but trying for shots that are worth 50 percent more than dunks did allow them to hang around long enough to get everyone nervous about ther brackets.

Talent ultimately won out, so the Knicks switched things up and tried to be a wildly over-matched high school team on Saturday night in Houston. If you thought trying three pointers almost exclusively was an odd coaching moment, it was Mike D'Antoni's Manhattan Project compared to playing a lineup of Jeremy Lin, Renaldo Balkman, Iman Shumpert, Steve Novak and Amar'e Stoudemire to start the fourth quarter against the Rockets.

It was one of the more interesting lineups you could ever hope to see, although it was also one that had as much chance of coming back to win a game as the team from Hoosiers would have against the Rockets. Choose to be irate about such a lineup if you like, and plenty of people seem to think that D'Antoni's firing is well past due, but when you're forced to start Toney Douglas and Bill Walker it isn't really like you have all that far to fall.

That leads us back to Anthony and, more pressingly, Baron Davis. There's not much point in doubting whether or not the team is better with Anthony in the lineup, even when his ball-stopping on offense is at its worst, nor is there any point in continuing to hope that this team has even a glimmer of hope if Davis can't come in to run the offense. 

There doesn't seem to be much point in firing D'Antoni before Davis has a chance to play since blaming D'Antoni for this roster is like getting mad at a chef for not making a gourmet feast with rotten eggs. That doesn't absolve him of this mess because this roster should still be better than 7-13 and the lack of effort in Houston has to fall on the coach's shoulders, but one must be realistic about these things.

Is this team better with Mike Woodson or Herb Williams leading it? The most fervent members of the anti-D'Antioni crowd are the biggest supporters of bringing Phil Jackson to town, but he's not going to come right this minute and no one else is going to take the job to subject themselves to the incessant grass is always greener nature of the Knicks right now unless Jackson is totally out of the picture.

Maybe none of that matters if the Knicks lay another egg on Tuesday against the awful Pistons and get run out of the Garden against the Bulls on Thursday. There will be a point where what's next matters less than what's already happened and two more miserable nights in front of booing fans might just be the breaking point for the D'Antoni regime regardless of how little chance anyone has with this roster.

The best hope for this season remains that Davis returns, picks up the offense and the team starts playing progressively better basketball over the final two-thirds of the season. It's just hope, though, because we've all seen enough of this roster to know that its flaws aren't going to allow you to dominate anything but the worst teams in the league and that any preseason championship talk was from the Rex Ryan School of Magical Thinking.

It's not a mixture that bodes well for the coach, even if getting rid of him does nothing to fix the problems on the court.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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