Mike D'Antoni Stumbled Into Rumors About the Raptors Job

Mike D'Antoni gets caught up in rumors about opening in Toronto

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Going to Toronto? Them's fighting words!

    The Toronto Raptors fired their head coach on Wednesday.

    Normally such news wouldn't even merit a mention on these sports pages, but Mike D'Antoni has found a way to get wrapped up in this job action.

    Bryan Colangelo, the president of the Raptors, hired D'Antoni in Phoenix and found great success supplying him with players who could run his scheme to perfection. With Jay Triano out of the way and the Raptors searching for an identity, it made sense to draw some connection to D'Antoni.

    There are reasons not to reject the notion of a D'Antoni move out of hand. He only has one year left on his deal with the Knicks and there almost certainly will not be an extension coming until next season plays itself out.

    Throw in the difficulty that D'Antoni had running his system after the arrival of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups and you've got a plausible scenario for him wanting to make a change. Substantiating anything more than that is difficult right now, however.

    The Knicks still haven't made it official with Donnie Walsh and they'll need to do that before they will do anything to address their future with D'Antoni. As a result of this vacuum at the top, there's an old-fashioned tabloid war going on when it comes to what's true about D'Antoni's future.

    Frank Isola of the Daily News reports that Walsh has questioned whether D'Antoni is the right man for the job because of his inability/unwillingness to address the team's defensive shortcomings. That meshes with previous reports about the organization's desire to add a defensive coach and, if push came to shove, could point toward a move out the door.

    Marc Berman of the Post isn't having any of that. He spoke with D'Antoni's agent, who said the coach wants to stay, and with a Raptors source who said D'Antoni isn't on their wish list.

    Alan Hahn of Newsday, meanwhile, thinks it is reasonable to speculate about D'Antoni and the Raptors, but he doesn't expect it to happen. That actually sounds a lot like what Colangelo himself said when announcing the coaching change. 

    He said he wanted a coach with experience to replace the callow Triano, so D'Antoni makes sense on that front. He also talked about wanting a coach who emphasized defense and, as we all know, D'Antoni barely admits that defense is one-half of a basketball game. 

    The chaotic nature of the NBA's labor situation this summer makes it very difficult to predict how anything is going to look whenever next season gets underway. That said, it is hard to believe the Knicks would make another drastic change of direction after so much tumult during the last three years.

    Stability and growth are keys for the Knicks in the near future. We're not sure if D'Antoni will provide the latter, but he certainly provides the former.

    That alone is enough to move the needle to the skeptical side when it comes to a change on the sideline for the Knicks. 

    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.