Mike D’Antoni was the toast of the NBA during his tenure in Phoenix. In New York, things haven’t worked out quite as well. Although they have diametrically opposed coaching styles, D’Antoni and former Knicks coach learned the same lesson in New York — you can’t fit square pegs into round holes. Brown’s mistake was trying to turn a squad of shoot-first scorers into a grind-it-out, defense-first team; D’Antoni has failed to turn a team of decent forwards with no point guard to speak of into a run-and-gun juggernaut.
Last night, Knicks point guard Toney Douglas recorded only three assists in 41 minutes, and Center David Lee led the team in assists with seven. On the other side of the ball, Rajon Rondo reminded D’Antoni of the kind of player he needs to make his system work — a confident, attacking point guard who understands angles in the half-court, knows how and when to push the ball, and has a flair for the dramatic. Making it all the more painful for D’Antoni is that the Suns were the team who drafted Rondo originally, but sold the pick to make room to sign Marcus Banks. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Suns would have made a different move that summer if they knew what they know now.