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NBA Coast to Coast: Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni a fortunate scapegoat?

With the Carmelo Anthony trade not working for the Knicks, the New York coach might pay the price, but don't feel sorry for him. He gets to escape.

March 27, 2011
  • New York Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni argues with an official during the Knicks' 119-117 loss to the Indiana Pacers on March 15.
New York Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni argues with an official during… (Associated Press )

Now for the Hysteria Meter and the Curse of the Raised Ticket Prices.

The former is ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan's takeoff on Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni noting local "hysteria."

The latter is the New York Daily News' Frank Isola, noting the nose dive following the announcement of their 49% price increase.

Next, the D'Antoni Countdown?

With the Knicks unable to run his offense and playing no defense before owner James Dolan traded most of their players for Carmelo Anthony — guess who gets to be the scapegoat.

Don't cry for him, Gotham.

D'Antoni, who has all he can do to keep from screaming he hated the deal, would have $6 million coming and this mess in his rearview mirror.

Everyone else has to stay.

Knuckleheads ball

With super-prospect John Wall, the Wizards have a bunch of wild ones from Nick Young, who's getting it ... to shot-blocking machine JaVale McGee, whom Coach Flip Saunders yo-yos … to the most talented, most-often arrested and suspended, 6-foot-11, 260-pound Andray Blatche.

"Dray is a work in progress," General Manager Ernie Grunfeld told the Washington Post's Jason Reid.

"... He's trying and working on it. This is really the first season where he's gotten significant minutes for the whole season."

Unfortunately, Blatche's workload didn't preclude him from getting in a barroom fight with McGee as teammate Al Thornton, trying to separate them, was punched by the bouncer.

The Wizards said it was "simply a disagreement between teammates."

See if you can figure where this is headed, however long it takes to get there.

Etc.

Of course, there are reasons for the Knicks' struggles, the Knicks keep insisting, like no time to practice to the latest and whiniest: We're tired. … Deciding practice wasn't so important, after all, D'Antoni canceled one last week, after Amare Stoudemire saw it on the schedule and ran in to see him. … The Daily News' Isola quoted a source who said Stoudemire also bailed out on a scheduled appearance, snarling at a Knicks staffer, "Right now I need to concentrate on basketball. That's all." … Correction: In last week's rankings, I wrote that Houston Coach Rick Adelman got a one-year extension. Actually, despite having done a great job while stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady crumbled, Adelman's deal is running out with an ominous silence from owner Les Alexander.

This side of the NBA/college divide — a canyon among basketball fans — we forgive Charles Barkley for anything because he's fun, but putting him and TNT's NBA commentators, who are good at what they do, on the NCAA tournament has college people in culture shock. … Leading the resistance was Billy Packer, once the greatest college commentator of them all, a victim of falling ratings. In reply, Barkley called Packer "a jackass." … Acerbic as Packer is, the jackasses are the suits at the NCAA, CBS and TNT who did this. … Even with ratings up and Barkley leading polls on tournament fans' favorite analysts, TNT's David Levy all but conceded the point, telling Sports Illustrated that Barkley was "wrong" for their selection show, before more criticism rolled in. … And whoever monitors those referees needs some monitoring. Their specialty is whistling everything imaginable, turning the inconsequential into the game-changing, like San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin bumping into Connecticut's Kemba Walker.

— Mark Heisler

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