Godspeed, Mike D’Antoni. Over the weekend, the former Suns coach accepted the Most Impossible Position in Sports: coaching the Knicks team assembled by Isiah Thomas. Further handcuffing him is the fact that Thomas’s underachievers are especially ill-suited for his fast-paced brand of offense, which is based upon the premise that the team should shoot within the first seven seconds of a possession. (For comparison’s sake, Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph are just about crossing half-court seven seconds into a possession — assuming they got back on defense in the first place.)
All of this, of course, has given the local columnists a chance to play both soothsayer and armchair GM, and map out some possible scenarios for the D’Antoni era.
In the News, Mitch Lawrence only half-sarcastically suggests that team president Donnie Walsh hand over the GM duties to D’Antoni, since he’s the only one who knows what will fit into his mad offensive scheme. Meanwhile, in Newsday — now a member of the Cablevision family of companies! — Alan Hahn wonders whether the hire puts the Knicks in a better position for the expected 2010 LeBron James Sweepstakes.
Harvey Araton sums up two consensus observations nicely in the Times: With D’Antoni onboard, the Knicks roster will be completely turned over, and they’ll now be forced to adapt to a faster, more global NBA. (He also notes, perhaps prophetically, that the Suns heyday began as soon as Stephon Marbury hit the road.) But the most refreshing aspect of the story isn’t the new offensive system, or the apparent coup keeping D’Antoni from the Bulls — where players reportedly bombarded GM John Paxson with text messages begging for his hire. As the Post’s Marc Berman points out, it’s that Jim Dolan stayed the hell out of the proceedings. —Joe DeLessio