Who’s to blame?/What kind of players do I want on my team?

How can a team with this roster be this bad? We are now 42 games into the season and at that point the “we just need time to gel as a team” starts to get old, right now there is just no reasonable explanation as to how the Knicks are 18-24 and currently out of the playoffs. I’ve gotta agree with Andreas and say that my patience with D’Antoni is finally wearing thin, because the way the team has been struggling to execute on either end lately (although to be fair, the Bulls game, aside from giving up 287 offensive rebounds, wasn’t horrible), a lot of the blame has to be shouldered by the coach. My previously unflinching commitment to D’Antoni has mostly been based around the fact that I haven’t seen any particularly tempting replacements anyway. But by now “generic coach” would seem like a better option, and not even because I think D’Antoni is a bad coach, but because he just won’t work out for this team. Him and Carmelo never seemed like they would be a good fit, since D’Antoni’s “system” is predicated on free-flowing ball movement, and always dominated by the point guard, whereas Melo thrives when he can go to work in isolations. D’Antoni’s system is at once his greatest claim to fame and something of a curse, because it provides players with a built-in excuse for playing poorly. A system doesn’t make you miss open jumpers or lay-ups or fail to understand the mechanics of “boxing out—>rebound”, but that is still how any discussion of this particular coach will be framed. Aside from the triangle offense and the so-called Seven Seconds or Less offense, does anyone know the offensive coaching philosophy of any single coach in the league?

My problem at this juncture is mostly that I can’t decide who I’m most annoyed with, D’Antoni, Melo or Stoudemire. Carmelo has more or less career-worst averages in every category except assists (including .400 FG%) and Stoudemire has played nothing short of terrible 90% of the season. It’s so annoying as a fan to see every other team in the league seem more pumped up and eager to win on any given night than the Knicks are, and to see every single team get more out of their franchise players than the Knicks do. The really maddening part is once again, when I look at the roster and come back to why I seriously thought this team could hang with anybody just a couple of weeks ago… Sure, Linsanity came against relatively weak teams… but this team without Carmelo, Amar’e, Baron Davis and JR Smith won seven in a row. Adding two perennial all-NBA players and two players who at the very least can provide major sparks for the team maybe 10-15 minutes a game should push such a team near championship level, not push it out of the playoffs. I know the saying goes that you need stars to win it all, and I would definitely agree with that. But in the midst of this terrible underperforming from our two 100-million dollar players, hearing that Lou Williams’ 28 points was a team high for the 76ers for this entire season, kind of seemed refreshing. I wouldn’t want the Knicks to be more like that team, because that Philadelphia team is never winning a title, but stars are only stars if they win, especially if their supporting cast equals that of the Knicks (you can’t really blame someone like Deron Williams for not managing to win with that horrendous New Jersey roster). It’s time Melo and Stat start playing even remotely like the players their contracts suggest they are, and if that means “generic coach” needs to be brought in, so be it.

One final thought though, whatever happens with the Knicks during this season or the next, don’t trade Tyson Chandler. Obviously credit is due to Jeremy Lin for the most exciting time as a Knick fan in over 12 years and for that he should definitely be held on to as well, but Tyson Chandler is exactly the kind of player that you have no trouble rooting for no matter how the team is playing or what the game is like. He fights hard on every possession, plays within his limits, gives you about three easy dunks every game, and plays with a passion always highlighted by the ensuing roars on those dunks. He’s like Kevin Garnett, only if Garnett actually still seemed like a nice person. I don’t even want Tyson Chandler traded straight up for Dwight Howard, and while that may seem totally irrational, to use an oft-used Carmelo expression, “at the end of the day”, you need to feel like you actually WANT to root for the players on your team. I have never liked Dwight Howard and his recent trade request antics haven’t improved my opinion of him, whereas Chandler is exactly the kind of player I want on my team, and in the end, that stuff really matters too.

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