With Donnie Walsh out in New York, immediately the questions turned towards the future of Mike D’Antoni. Yes, D’Antoni was part of the Knicks’ resurgence. Yes, D’Antoni was instrumental in their playoff run. And yes, he has several years left on his contract. But this is the Knicks we’re talking about and if anything, they’re always good for drama in places where there should be none.
The New York Post spoke with D’Antoni following Walsh’s departure from President to advisor last week, and the Knicks coach isn’t concerned about his job.
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said he is not worried at all about being back next season, though his greatest ally, president Donnie Walsh, is leaving on June 30 after turning down James Dolan’s contract-extension offer.
D’Antoni has the support of Walsh, who will stay on next season as a consultant and Garden sports president Scott O’Neil, and he expects to meet with Knicks owner James Dolan shortly.
It is unclear if a contract extension would be discussed, but one source said Dolan likes D’Antoni a lot. D’Antoni has one year and $6 million left on his contract, and Dolan is not keen on eating it during a lockout-shortened season with revenues down.
In traditional Knicks terms, this pretty much guarantees D’Antoni will be fired in a week. Kidding. But the reality is that D’Antoni has managed to take a team with glaring weaknesses and get the most out of them, again. And he’s still being undermined.
The New York Times reports that D’Antoni is under pressure to hire an defensive specialist as an assistant coach. That’s more fuel to the fire of rumor that says D’Antoni is under increasing pressure to move away from his plans, and that his input is limited in front office decisions. D’Antoni is safe, for now. But you have to wonder at what point trying to appease an ownership group that is as unpredictable as Dolan’s is going to make it not worth it for him, or how long until ownership gets impatient with not winning titles with two stars, no matter what they gave up to get them. It’s an impossible situation in New York, and with Walsh out, things only got tougher.