Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Weasels of the Week: James Dolan & Carmelo Anthony

Earlier today, Mike D'Antoni resigned as head coach of the New York Knicks, mired in a 6-game losing streak, and in danger of missing the NBA playoffs. A month ago, the Knicks were the toast of the town, thanks to the emergence of second year point guard Jeremy Lin. However, "Linsanity" has given way to the same old, tired, malaise of losing.

Critics can point to the return of veteran stars Amar'e Stoudamire & Carmelo Anthony from injuries as a turning point in Knick fortunes. The New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence, just two weeks ago, had urged owner James Dolan to refrain from making any unnecessary moves with the trade deadline looming. As it turns out, Dolan may not have heeded the warning. According to a Yahoo! article published earlier today, unnamed sources said that Dolan, predictably, was blaming D'Antoni for the reversal of fortune. Problem is, Anthony, the former Syracuse star who had been acquired in a trade from Denver a year ago, had reportedly been sulking on the bench and not taking part in a late-game team huddle recently. See how the pieces start to come together?

Anthony had said all the right things in the press upon his return, showing a willingness to work with Lin. It was Dolan, acting on the advice of former coach-GM Isaiah Thomas, who pushed for the trade that brought Anthony to New York, and while the press was reporting today that Knicks brass were pushing for Dolan to send Anthony on his way, perhaps to Orlando in exchange for Dwight Howard, the owner, demonstrating again that he has the business acumen of a broken staple gun, opted to stick with his struggling star, placating Anthony by perhaps putting the heat on D'Antoni. The veteran coach must've known that the end would've come by the end of the week anyway, so he decided he was better served if he left now on his own accord.

Assuming, of course, the decision was really his to make, and you know some people will think it wasn't.

Nothing destroys team chemistry more than a veteran suddenly jealous and/or afraid for his job when a younger player suddenly becomes an overnight sensation. Other teams have studied game films on Lin and have adjusted their defenses accordingly, which means Lin has to adjust in return, and if he can't get the ball to Anthony, who's supposed to be the man with the game on the line, what can you do? The press has also said other players have complained, but the heat is on Anthony, the prodigal son, who supposedly hasn't backed up his verbal support of Lin and D'Antoni.

The heat, rightfully, should also be on Dolan for not recognizing the real source of the problem and addressing it. Instead, he decides to channel the late George Steinbrenner and scapegoat the coach out of town. Mike Woodson, a former player whose last head coaching gig was in Atlanta a few years back, is the interim coach for at least the remainder of the season. You have to figure he has to keep his head on a swivel, because he may be the next to go if the Knicks don't reach the playoffs. For now, Anthony & Dolan get the weasel ears for misplacing priorities and putting ego ahead of the best interests of the team.

Then again, we can just shrug and say, what else is new, right?

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