Did he jump or was he pushed? Irrelevant now since the way things are going it’s unthinkable that Mike D’Antoni would have wanted to stick around the Knicks much longer, even with their trouncing of the Portland Trail Blazers 121-79 last night.
Was he mellow with Carmelo? My guess is that D’Antoni’s denial that there was any trouble between him and his coach is probably truthful. Of course, personal differences don’t necessarily take into account professional disagreements, namely that D’Antoni wanted to play pick-and-roll and Melo wanted to get the ball on his lonesome.
What we do know is that since coming back from his groin injury Feb. 20, Carmelo Anthony has been not very good, and that is the principal reason why D’Antoni is no longer his coach.
Before all this passes in a rush, and discussion turns full time to the possibility of getting Phil Jackson (or Patrick Ewing?) or whoever as coach, let’s take a look at what Anthony did after his return — or perhaps we should say didn’t do.
In the 10-game stretch that sunk D’Antoni — and probably the team for the season — the Knicks won two of their first four games and lost every one after that (2-8 overall.)
Anthony scored 25 points in a loss to the Celtics on March 4. It was his high during this 10-game span and in no other game did he score more than 22. In fact, overall he scored just 168 points in 10 games, one of the worst stretches of his career. (Melo put up 16 points in last night’s win over Portland.)
Overall, it must be said that Carmelo has been a bust this year. His .400 field goal percentage is the worst of his entire career, 56 percentage points below his average in his 11 NBA seasons. Much of this has had to do with his dreadful 3-point shooting, .308 for this year — down a whopping 116 points from the previous season and his lowest in 8 years.
Has he been off his game because of the groin injury? Is he still hurting? If he’s needed time off, it hasn’t shown in in his mutes played. In his return against New Jersey, he played 37 minutes and played 38 minutes against the Bulls this past Monday. And here’s the strangest stat: his free throw shooting has dribbled down the porcelain facilities: .812 for 2011-12, 60 points lower than last year and his lowest since 2008-09.
Did the injury slow him down that much, or has he simply not been putting out for this coach? I don’t know, but all the while the New York media has been riding the “Guess Jeremy Lin Isn’t God After All” pony, they’ve been ignoring the big story on the Knicks: namely the swift decline of Carmelo Anthony.