NEW YORK — By encouraging – Mike D’Antoni to seek gainful employment elsewhere (attempting to manipulate salary relief on $8.5 million obligation), the Suns have confirmed their coach is not invited back for the two years remaining on his contract.
Depending on his agent’s success at selling D’Antoni to the Knicks and Bulls who have vacancies, and the Raptors, Hawks and Warriors whose split from Sam Mitchell, Mike Woodson and Don Nelson is scarcely inconceivable, his official firing (buyout?) will occur shortly.
That’s just common sense.
If you and your wife are having irreconcilable differences and she gives her consent (which you originally requested) to talk to other women, you don’t seriously think the relationship has a chance to survive merely because you couldn’t get any play elsewhere?
Despite D’Antoni being Bryan Colangelo’s first love in Phoenix, I doubt whether the Raptors’ commanding officer would be allowed by superiors to pay off Mitchell ($8 million over next two years) and then make a significant investment in his replacement.
On second thought, a balanced combination of international and American offshore drillers, infiltrators and defense-less players already are in place and accustomed to implementing the pre-Shaq Suns design.
We’re about to discover the extent of Colangelo’s juice.
Then again, this the same franchise that gave Alonzo Mourning $15 million NOT to play for it when he refused to report to lottery-like Toronto following the Nets’ trade involving Vince Carter.
As for impurely speculated interest by the Knicks in D’Antoni, unless Mike can arrange for Steve Nash to accompany him to New York and he’s willing to commit to the exact same defensive/disciplined upgrade, Suns owner Robert Sarver and team president Steve Kerr insist he adopt, it ain’t remotely believable.
(Avery Johnson also isn’t vaguely an option. If he wilted under the pressure of elevated expectations in Dallas and referred to the Mavericks’ media as “poisonous,” how many losses and negative articles do you think it’d take before the Lil’ General came unraveled in New York? That doesn’t mean the Bulls aren’t considering him.)
I can picture Bulls’ GM John Paxson being intrigued, if not mesmerized, by D’Antoni’s liberal style; he offers an opposite approach to the hardcore, in-your-face format preferred by Scott Skiles and sustained by first lieutenant (interim) Jim Boylan.
While it’s true a more relaxed atmosphere may put smiles on players’ faces, as well as produce a more crowd-pleasing, higher-octane offense, the foundation for the team’s success was challenging dribblers, passers and shooters.
In fact, that attitude worked pretty well for a year even after Tyson Chandler was traded for (ouch) P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith, who stayed on Chicago’s roster all of seven days before being re-routed to Denver (double ouch) for Howard Eisley and a pair of second-rounders.
So, who figures to replace D’Antoni? I was afraid I was going to ask myself that. Conjecture cites Avery Johnson, Doug Collins, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Fratello. It’s an indictment on the profession (SO FEW LEGIT CANDIDATES) that owners and their trusted decision makers feel compelled to restock from the same recycled pile of discarded coaches.
Yeah, that’s the move; lunge (see Charlotte/Larry Brown and Dallas/Rick Carlisle) for those who turned off or were tuned out most recently and more often by the majority of their players.
The regular crowd shuffles out and the regular crowd shuffles in. Billy Joel might want to update Piano Man.
I’d rather lure Tommy Heinsohn, Billy Cunningham, Del Harris, Jack Ramsay, Bill Fitch, K.C. Jones, Dick Motta, Gene Shue, Kevin Loughery, John MacLeod, Al Attles, Butch Beard, Jimmy Rodgers, Don Casey and Bill Blair out of retirement.
At least you have a more diversified field to choose from.
Knicks president Donnie Walsh appears to be the only executive prepared to float a fresh face in Mark Jackson.
If I’m Kerr, my bold inspiration would be Jeff Hornacek, though I realize he might be at a big disadvantage having no national broadcast experience.
EARL MONROE will receive an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters at Manhattanville, May 10, during its commencement exercises. Not that it’s gone to his head, but when I recently went to his Harlem apartment to meet with him and his wife Marita, I had to sit for a long time in his honorary waiting room.
New Orleans’ rapid responders are proving to be a mismatch for the Spurs, at home, at least. So far, it’s all about the Hornets’ enhanced length, quickness outpost accuracy. Above all of the above, they’re not slightly in awe of the defending champs.
David West, Peja Stojakovic, Tyson Chandler and Mo Peterson are making Chris Paul better; 30 points, 12 assists and one turnover in dominating last season’ NBA Finals MVP, Tony Parker.
Peter Vecsey covers the NBA for the New York Post.