Defenseless: Why Knicks Need A New Coach

New York Knicks head coach Mike D

Is this the look Mike D'Antoni gives his players when they ask him a question about defense? (Source:

Another post from new Buckets writer Joshua Sage, saying we shouldn’t be blinded by our last three wins ‘cuz they only further proved we need a new coach who preaches defense:

The New York Knicks defeated the LA Clippers Saturday night, led by Danilo Gallinari and Amar’e Stoudemire in the final quarter. Now that bit of good news will be the only thing on most New Yorkers’ minds today. I, on the other hand, will be spending some time thinking of reasons why the Knicks haven’t fired Mike D’Antoni yet.

While Saturday night’s effort produced a win, it also produced another historic night for an opposing player. On November 12th, it was Kevin Love, who made history going for 31 points and 31 rebounds (with Beasley scoring 35) for the first time in the NBA since Moses Malone did it in 1982. Then there was Blake Griffin, who scored 44 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and dropped seven 7 assists on the Knicks. Those 44 points are the most scored by a rookie against NYK since Michael Jordan dropped 47 on them in 1984. Blake’s 44-15-7 stat line also marks him as the only rookie to ever put up those numbers besides Oscar Robertson, who put up a 44-15-11 game in 1960.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the Knicks also made history in 2009 when they started the season 1-9, posting their worst 10 game start in franchise history. Mike also led New York to its worst home loss in January of this year, a 50-point blow out at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, which ranks as the second-worst loss ever in the franchise’s history. The Knickerbockers are a 54 year old franchise, people, and they had the terrible Isiah Thomas as their coach. It astounds me that coach Mike could hit lows that even Thomas couldn’t! The Knicks seem to be on the wrong end of history a lot under coach D’Less.

New York leads the league with 106 blocks, and are 4th in steals with 116. They have a team full of quick, tall, young players who show defensive ability, they just don’t operate in a defensive system. Not in a good system, anyway. Under Mike D’Antoni, the Knicks allowed teams to score 100 or more points ten times in their first fourteen games this season, and at least 110 points seven times. They’ve lost to the Timberwolves, Rockets, Kings and 76ers, who are a combined 14-36, and just allowed a 1 win Clippers team to score 115 points on them.

In a previous post I stated my belief that the Knicks are only missing two additions before they can contend for a finals appearance. One is an elite scorer in the perimeter, the other is a quality head coach. With Gallinari scoring 20+ points per game over his last six games, and Carmelo Anthony potentially on his way this off season, New York may be one step closer to eventual contention. Now if they would just deal with their coaching situation.

Everyone knows that defense wins titles. The Bulls had it under Phil Jackson, the Pistons had it under Larry Brown, and Boston has it under Doc Rivers. Defense is not something Mike D’Antoni has ever been known for.

Tags: Blake Griffin Joshua Sage Kevin Love Los Angeles Clippers Mike D'Antoni New York Knicks

  • bgalella

    Firing Mike D’Antoni isn’t the answer. Amar’e Stoudemire agreed to come to New York for two reasons: $100 million and D’Antoni.

    If D’Antoni is fired today, it could easily be taken a a slight by Stoudemire, sending him into a bad mood and further submarine the season.

    The Knicks began the season with 7 new players on its roster and not one of them was acquired because of their reputation as a defender.

    It’s clear New York’s priority isn’t shutting down its opponent, but rather try and out score them.

    For the first time since 1998 the Knicks had a successful west coast trip, something Isiah Thomas never did, and removing D’Antoni right now makes little sense.

    Like you pointed out with Thomas, the Knicks aren’t quick to can a coach/general manager, and the fans/media in New York aren’t calling for D’Antoni to be fired, someone would have to take the job, not sure who would be a good fit at this point, but getting rid of the coach makes little sense at this point.

    • Alex David, aka Short White Boy

      I’m with you Brendan.

      Lots of fans want D’Antoni’s head ‘cuz defense doesn’t win championships, but we ain’t nowhere near winning a championship. It’d sorta be like saying championship teams need glue guys like Shane Battier, so we should try to acquire him now (I know, I know, our own Landry Fields seems like he can be that type of glue-ster, but it’s just an example). And people complain that D’Antoni’s not a championship-type coach, but honestly, how many of those are out there? Greg Popovitch, Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Larry Brown (who we already tried)? Yes, you can say others like Jerry Sloan, Stan Van Gundy and a few others preach the right stuff to potentially get you there, but it still is a small list.

      And like when we got Larry, probably part of the problem was that we got him too early on in the process. He came onboard Detroit after they’d already had a 50-win season. With teams that he’s started from scratch, they get up to playoff-caliber level teams but then they level off and he leaves. Many people believe most coaches only have 3-4 years where their players will really listen to them (sure, Pop, Sloan & PJ have gone longer, but they’re more the exceptions than the rule). So while I agree that if we can get to the point where we might contend for a championship we would most likely need a more defensive-minded coach, I don’t think we’re anywhere near ready to go after a big gun.