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D’Antoni made the announcement after a meeting on Wednesday with the Knicks braintrust—James Dolan, Madison Square Garden chairman, and Ernie Grunfeld, interim general manager, Yahoo! Sports first reported.
Two of D’Antoni’s assistants, his brother Dan and Phil Weber, are also stepping down. Mike Woodson will take over the head coaching duties on an interim basis. He’ll be assisted by Kenny Atkinson and Herb Williams, according to the New York Times.
Just a few weeks after the Knicks became the hottest story in basketball with the emergence of point guard Jeremy Lin, the team has struggled to maintain the high-octane offense and suffocating defense that carried them to seven consecutive wins in February.
For most of that stretch of “Linsanity”-fueled excitement, Anthony was out of the lineup due to injury. The million-dollar question was whether the team could produce the same results with their franchise player in the lineup. Anthony excels playing a half-court offence rather than the fast-break style favored by D’Antoni.
Now, with D’Antoni’s departure, it’s pretty clear that Knicks brass have more faith in Anthony’s star power than in the former coach’s run-and-gun approach.
One source who reportedly talked to D’Antoni told the Times:
“He basically said he didn’t see how he could coach them to success the way it was right now…He didn’t want to get beat up for the next two months or see Melo get beat up for the next two months.”
Big questions still remain for the Knicks.
Is Mike Woodson the right man for the head coaching job?
If not, who is? Phil Jackson?
Will Lin be able to fulfill his potential under a new coach and a different style of basketball philosophy?
Can Lin and Anthony play together?
What are the chances that the Knicks make the playoffs now?
For the Knicks’ sake, answers to all of these questions need to be found sooner rather than later.
Brett Johnson is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based writer and the founder of the music and culture blog VeryArtistical.com.