The Knicks had dreams of Steve Nash this summer before the Lakers swooped in and took over to land Nash in their sign-and-trade. Nash eventually made his decision based on the proximity to his kids, so there may have been nothing for the Knicks to do. But you have to imagine that having Mike D’Antoni still roaming their sideline would have helped. In London for the Olympics as an assistant for Team USA, D’Antoni told reporters that he would have “walked to Phoenix” to get Nash on board in New York.
But of course, that was never going to happen. The CAA Knicks starring Carmelo Anthony were never going to appear otherwise, and D’Antoni didn’t fit into that plan. If Jeremy Lin was a threat to Anthony’s stardom (and there’s no indication that Anthony himself had a problem with sharing the spotlight if it meant winning), how was that going to work with the two-time MVP in the building?
Even more so, though, the Knicks have headed in a different direction. They’re a slower, defensive team now, built around Mike Woodson’s defensive scheme and Tyson Chandler’s at-rim protection. The Nash-Amar’e connection was great six years, ago, even three years ago. But they would have been trying to head in two different directions, towards a defensive mindset and an offensive approach. Too difficult to try and go both places at once.
So maybe it’s for the best. But you can tell where D’Antoni’s mind was headed. A Nash-J.R. Smith-Melo-Amar’e Stoudemire-Chandler team might have been able to balance both sides. We’ll never know. D’Antoni’s gone and this is Melo’s team through and through now.