Commentary

Losses starting to stick to Teflon D'An

As fans, media start to question Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, is management next?

Updated: November 16, 2010, 9:59 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Judgment day is coming for Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni. There have now been 110 losses over a little more than two seasons for D'Antoni and he has hardly been held accountable for any of them.

He is not going to lose his job tomorrow or the next day or probably not until the end of the season at the earliest. But D'Antoni is starting to be judged by the fans, the media and, at some point, Knicks management will chime in, too.

Mike D'Antoni
AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Frank GunnMike D'Antoni needs to prove he's the big-time coach he was in Phoenix.

The four corners offense -- the stall tactics on D'Antoni's four-year, $24 million deal -- is dissipating as the Knicks get set to face their next savior, Carmelo Anthony.

With the Summer of LeBron turning into Settling for Stoudemire, the Knicks have barely showed up this season. The Knicks' $100 million man, Amare Stoudemire, pointed that out after Sunday night's loss to the Rockets, questioning the team's heart and sense of urgency.

At 3-7 at the start of a four-game West Coast swing beginning in Denver against the Nuggets on Tuesday, it is very fair to wonder what type of coach the Knicks have.

Is D'Antoni the 14-36 coach the Nuggets had in 1998-99? Is he the 21-40 coach the Suns had in 2003-04? Or is he the 232-97 coach who led the Suns with Steve Nash for four years?

Over his first two seasons in the Big Apple, D'Antoni received a hall pass because the Knicks were waiting on LeBron James. And now? Knicks GM Donnie Walsh still isn't ready to judge D'Antoni.

"I've made no judgments on Mike in the first few years, because, basically, I didn't think he had the personnel to compete because of what we were doing," said Walsh, who will have hip surgery this week. "This team is a young team that has to be brought along a certain way. I think he is trying to do that. In the first 10 games, I expected us to be up and down so I don't think it is time to make judgments on Mike."

D'Antoni already revealed how he thinks his future should be decided. In his exit news conference last season, D'Antoni said it was playoffs or bust for him.

"You will be asking someone else, 'How are you going to get back to the playoffs?'" D'Antoni said about the possibility of the 2010-11 Knicks not making the postseason. "That's probably what will happen."

Now, there is a feeling the Knicks are waiting on Anthony. So does D'Antoni get to wait until the final season of his four-year contract that pays him $6 million per season before his record can be examined?

So far this year, it seems as if the Knicks are playing reruns from the recent past. After Stoudemire criticized his teammates, D'Antoni disagreed.

"I think we are playing with heart," D'Antoni said. "I think the guys are trying."

After a night to sleep on his thoughts, Stoudemire backtracked a little, but still didn't make the Knicks look good.

"I think now we understand our backs are against the wall and we really have to buy into the system," Stoudemire said. "The first nine, 10 games of the season, we didn't quite buy into the system."

The cure supposedly now is forward Ronny Turiaf. His sprained knee is better and D'Antoni said he is "probable" for Denver. The Knicks, D'Antoni thinks, also have to play faster.

"We are not playing with the speed on offense that we need to play with," D'Antoni said.

The specter of Anthony will hang over Tuesday night. The next savior will be in the building. Will it be awkward?

"The only awkwardness is he is really good," D'Antoni said.

Is D'Antoni really good? The jury is still out, but the jurors are starting to take their seats, beginning with the fans, media and, eventually, the Knicks' front office.

Andrew Marchand is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

More from ESPNNewYork.com »

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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