"Great time to start is tonight and I'm pretty confident they'll come out and play hard," D'Antoni said at the Knicks practice today before taking on the Portland Trailblazers. But just hours after he and team players spoke to reporters, D'Antoni would resign.
As the Knicks spiraled with the star-players' return, Anthony too became frustrated. His style of play at odds with the fast paced offense D'Antoni prefers under which several players thrive including Lin, Stoudemire, Baron Davis and Tyson Chandler. Team owner James Dolan personally oversaw the acquisition of Anthony last year - making great sacrifices to close the deal. Many believe D'Antoni's exit sends the message that Anthony must be appeased. "[D'Antoni] offered to stay," said Dolan prior to Wednesday night's game "...but after a long discussion we agreed that it was best for the team to have a new voice moving forward."
Assistant Coach Mike Woodson will be that voice, moving up to interim coach. Woodson is a former coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Speculation has already begun over big name coaches who are interested in the job including Phil Jackson and Jerry Sloan.
Taking to the floor of the Garden in their first game without D'Antoni, the Knicks exhibited great energy and dominated a mediocre Portland team. With 24 games left to their season, they need a substantial turnaround to get into the playoffs. Perhaps a greater task will be getting several key performers to work cohesively.
As a footnote, the press conference held by team officials tonight was attended by avid Knicks fan Spike Lee. The filmmaker is a fixture in the front row during games but sat wedged into the back corner - coincidentally, no one wants a front row seat to the Knicks personnel woes.