Mike D'Antoni gets stars' support

Updated: April 26, 2011, 7:24 AM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Amare Stoudemire gave a strong endorsement Monday for retaining Mike D'Antoni as coach of the New York Knicks, while Carmelo Anthony wasn't quite as declarative but still offered praise for D'Antoni's job performance.

D'Antoni has one year remaining on his four-year contract, and team president Donnie Walsh also is entering the final season of his deal if the Knicks pick up his option.

Neither man spoke publicly Monday, a day after the Knicks were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

But Stoudemire said he wants them back.

"Oh, absolutely. Absolutely," Stoudemire said. "Donnie has done a phenomenal job. He's one of the main reasons why I'm here in New York. He turned the Knicks' franchise around. Coach D'Antoni is the reason why we had the winning record and had a chance to do something special in the playoffs if it wasn't for a few injuries. And so I definitely think both those guys will be back next season."

Anthony is ready to support the two if they make it back.

"I support whatever decision that they make," Anthony said. "If Mike is here, I've got his back 100 percent. If Donnie is here, I've got his back 100 percent. So I support all the decisions."

One of the most pressing decisions the Knicks need to make by Friday is whether to pick up the $14.2 million option on Chauncey Billups' contract or pay him a $3.7 million buyout. Billups said he wants to return to New York next season, in part to atone for the postseason failure that was partly attributable to his knee injury and to Stoudemire's back injury.

"Getting swept in the first round, I don't do this," Billups said. "We're on the move, and it's how fast can we get that elevator up?"

Stoudemire said he would like to see the Knicks add an additional center in the offseason, while Anthony said the team does not necessarily need a third star player and would be best served in the short term by having an entire season together.

The Knicks went 14-14 to close the regular season (including a six-game losing streak and a seven-game winning streak) after acquiring Anthony and Billups from the Denver Nuggets, finishing 42-40 for the franchise's first winning record in 10 years.

And while Anthony didn't go overboard with praise in speaking about D'Antoni, he did offer support.

"I can only speak on since when I got here," he said. "Due to the circumstances, we came a long way since I first got here. With the expectations being so high so quickly, for us to lose some games and take a step backward, and then close out the regular season winning the way we did, you have to take your hat off to Mike for being able to handle a situation like that -- losing damn near his whole team, having to start off fresh with something new. He lost four key components to his team."

"They had something rolling here, and for him to have to take on another challenge of getting everybody on the same page since we got here, I think it took a lot. I respect that from him," Anthony said.

Anthony said he expects to have input along with Stoudemire on the team's offseason personnel moves. He believes the Knicks should be a 50-plus win team for the foreseeable future and should set a goal for next season of finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

He also said players from opposing teams have told him they want to come to New York.

"You just hear it. You'll be playing against guys, and everybody wants to play in New York now, especially with the excitement we brought back to the city," Anthony said. "A lot of players [have said] 'Man, I need to get there, I need to get there.' We'll see what happens with that, though."

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com.

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