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Knicks may force D’Antoni to hire defensive coordinator

Apr 29, 2011, 9:35 AM EDT

Los Angeles Clippers v New York Knicks Getty Images

Everyone agrees that the Knicks didn’t play much defense last season.

Whether you go points per game (28) or the superior points per possession (22) the Knicks were near the bottom of the league in defense. Part of that is that the roster is not exactly loaded with guys who think defense first and then having undersized Ronny Turiaf as your best choice as a big man trying to defend the paint. But part of it is system — Mike D’Antoni has never coached great defensive teams.

The Knicks front office wants that to change, according to the New York Daily News — they may force him to hire an assistant coach who will take over the defense. A defensive coordinator, if you will.

According to several sources, the front office will encourage D’Antoni to revamp his coaching staff to hire a defensive coach. In the past, D’Antoni has been reluctant to seek outside help, most famously refusing Steve Kerr’s request four years ago to hire Tom Thibodeau in Phoenix.

There are some assistants known for the defense who may be available, including Lawrence Frank, the Boston assistant and former Nets head coach (his contract is up this summer, although he is considered a head coaching candidate a few places, including Boston if Doc Rivers steps away).

This could be an issue on two fronts. One is autonomy of decisions — D’Antoni isn’t going to want another chef in the kitchen, he wants to make his own decisions.

Secondly, how does a new defensive system mesh with his seven-second-or-less offense? A defensive system like is run in Chicago and Boston (the Thibodeau system) has a team of guys deep in protecting the paint, which will slow their push up court. The Celtics and Bulls were 22 and 23 in the league in pace this season for a reason.

Walsh is in the middle of a couple of days of meetings with owner James Dolan. It is expected that at the end of this Walsh will be retained as team president for two more seasons. As much as anyone can expect logic from the Knicks owner, anyway.

  1. thestudiokida - Apr 29, 2011 at 10:09 AM

    I expect there will be about 32 defensive coordinators available this Fall.

  2. LPad - Apr 29, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    D’Antoni would be wise to do this. It’s not just the front office, he coaches a team with a tradition of defense that dates to the 70s. Now that the team is good again, the fans simply won’t except bad defense for the next ten years.

    On a different note, I suspect Boston’s and Chicago’s tempo/pace numbers are lower because teams play deep into the shot clock against them. For example, Boston definitely was the team pushing the tempo in their series against the Knicks.

  3. yankeesjetsknicksrangers - Apr 29, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    Isola usually gets things pretty accurate and its funny that Francesa has been pushing this for a while, love him or hate him he does wield a lot of influence.

    • LPad - Apr 29, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      I wouldn’t go that far. I think anybody that understands basketball knows that D’Antoni’s schemes don’t make a lot of sense and that an underlying philosophy isn’t there.

  4. dysraw1 - Apr 29, 2011 at 7:42 PM

    ricky d should really concider this move. it sure beat the alternative.

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