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The latest development in what has got to be one of the most mercurial seasons in NBA history took place a couple of hours ago when coach Mike D’Antoni and the New York Knicks agreed to mutually part ways.
Just how wild has the Knicks season been? They started the season with much fanfare, having signed Tyson Chandler–who just anchored a championship team last June–to play alongside “superstars” Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. After a disappointing first month and half, the Knicks season seemed lost until that Jeremy Lin thing happened, igniting, essentially, a revival of New York basketball fervor.
Just three weeks ago, the Knicks were the talk of the nation (and parts of Asia too), winning games, selling out arenas across the country and making global headlines, with Lin calling D’Antoni as “an absolute offensive genius” along the way.
Today, after six straight losses and a reported riff between the coach and the Knicks’ high-priced star Carmelo Anthony, D’Antoni is gone, replaced by Mike Woodson on an interim basis.
For those who are familiar with Woodson’s work, they know this is good news for Anthony–Woodson loved to run isolation plays back when he coached the Atlanta Hawks (so much that his isolation sets, designed for Atlanta’s Joe Johnson, was dubbed the “iso Joe”), and Anthony is absolutely an isolation–meaning “give me the ball and get out of my way”–type of player.
But what does this mean for Lin, who thrived under D’Antoni’s free-flowing, point-guard-favoring, system?
Probably bad news. Baron Davis–Lin’s higher-paid, more-established backup–has already reportedly complained about lack of playing time, and other players, such as Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, have implied that Lin was a product of D’Antoni’s system.
(Here’s Jennings last week, giving Lin the back-handed compliment:
“I don’t know about the whole ‘Linsanity’ thing, but he’s a good point guard in a great system, if I could put it like that. He should be able to get numbers, should be able to get assists with Amare, with Melo, Landry Fields, J.R. Smith and all those guys. If any point guard goes there, they all should be able to get numbers. But, I mean, he’s a good player.”)
While Lin’s not going to be placed back at the end of the bench, he’s probably going to play less minutes (perhaps even as a backup, which, given all the international hoopla he garnered during the height of Linsanity, feels surreal), control the ball less, make less plays, and revert back to a role player.
And what about the Knicks? There’s no question who won the power struggle between coach and star player here, and the Knicks will likely revert back to the Melo-centric offense. That’s not exactly good news, considering the Knicks have been a sub .500 team since trading for Anthony (and the team that gave Anthony away, Denver Nuggets, have won more games since the trade–make of this what you will).
So yeah, the Knicks will host the Portland Trailblazers tonight at the Garden, and all eyes will be on Anthony, Woodson, and Lin.