Knicks' D'Antoni already busting at seams with LeBron possibility
Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni is feeling good these days about the Knicks’
future, feeling almost like a King.
The sense throughout the Knick organization is the Cavaliers’ stunning
second-round ouster against Boston puts them on a level playing field
with Cleveland in signing free agent LeBron James in July.
"I feel good about the possibility of being a very good team next year,"
D’Antoni told The Post yesterday. "I don’t know anything yet about the
main guy [James]. I really don’t have a clue and I don’t think anyone
knows. But I am confident we can make it right. I do feel we’re in a
good position — either way."
D’Antoni wasn’t shocked either by the Celtics’ 4-2 dismantling of the Cavaliers in the second round.
"I don’t think it was an upset," D’Antoni said. "Boston was the better team. Everyone got down on them during the regular season but Kevin [Garnett] was hurt and people forget how good they were at the beginning of the season."
D’Antoni was amused at the shots James has taken since the Cavalier’s ouster. "The guy is still great," D’Antoni said.
Though D’Antoni has been knocked for the Knicks’ poor defensive play these past two seasons, nobody can knock the influence he will have on July 1. James, who played for D’Antoni on the U.S. Olympic team, is known to love his speedball philosophy. And that’s noteworthy at this juncture because James, according to Cleveland sources, soured on coach Mike Brown’s offensive system he deemed too slow and unimaginative.
Brown likely is to be fired in seven to 10 days, though that might not be enough for James to remain in Cleveland, as the Cavs have no cap space, no first-round pick and will be hard-pressed to make major changes.
Even Cavs owner Dan Gilbert admitted 61-win regular season is "meaningless," that winning in the playoffs requires a certain new dimension he must find.
The coach-less Bulls are considered a big threat to the Knicks because James can choose his own coach. But frankly, James would consider D’Antoni high on his list if he was unemployed.
D’Antoni said he couldn’t talk specifically about James’ free agency because of tampering rules. But according to people in the organization, the Knicks braintrust has deduced that what James needs most on his side is a sniper and a player who can create his own shot in the fourth quarter.
Both elements would take the heavy burden off James. The Knicks feel they have the sniper in Danilo Gallinari and a fourth-quarter shotmaker in Wilson Chandler — two young players improving every season.
Knicks brass don’t believe James necessarily needs a prominent point guard because James handles the ball so much and is such a great passer, he essentially is the point guard and floor general.