D'Antoni's Fate May Rest in Knicks Players' Hands - NBC New York

D'Antoni's Fate May Rest in Knicks Players' Hands



    D'Antoni's Fate May Rest in Knicks Players' Hands
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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 28: Coach Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks shouts during a game against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena on December 28, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

    Even before the Knicks landed Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and a handful of others in a blockbuster trade two weeks ago, team president Donnie Walsh's job was thought to be in jeopardy.

    Walsh and owner James Dolan were rumored to have different views on how to put together a roster, and it wouldn't be much of a surprise if Walsh didn't return after the season.

    What would be shocking is if head coach Mike D'Antoni, who has one year left on his current deal, wasn't back in New York for the 2011-2012 season. It seems hard to imagine, especially if D'Antoni can guide the Knicks to the playoffs, and even more so if he can get all the new faces to co-exist peacefully while doing it.

    According to the New York Post, one NBA executive thinks that “...the question for next season will be, is D’Antoni the right guy to lead a team with a halfcourt star in Anthony and a [soon-to-be] 35-year-old point guard [Billups]?”

    Last week, Walsh admitted that the Knicks could keep Billups beyond the end of this season when his contract will expire.

    "From day one, I said everybody underestimated Chauncey in this deal," Walsh said. "We have the beginning of a team we can build into a championship team. We have two super players and Chauncey is as good as anybody [we've] played against."

    This isn't proof that D'Antoni's job is in trouble, particularly since there are no guarantees Walsh will be in New York through the summer. But it does indicate that, at the very least, there have been conversations about Billups' future with the team.

    Interestingly, when Billups was traded to the Knicks, some skeptics were concerned that the player the club gave up, Raymond Felton, was better suited to run D'Antoni's up-tempo offense. Although Billups is now sidelined with a thigh injury, he had been instrumental in effectively running the Knicks' offense.

    Ultimately, D'Antoni's fate will likely be determined by how the 2010-2011 Knicks finish the season. It's reasonable to think that if New York makes the playoffs and the team gels in the process, D'Antoni will be back.

    It doesn't matter that his style doesn't fit perfectly with his personnel. Good coaches adjust. And after having 34 different players on the roster in two-plus years on the job, D'Antoni is familiar with making adjustments.