The madness shifts gears
What's the difference between Linsanity and insanity? One L too many for the New York Knicks.
Of course, it wasn't the Knicks having lost eight of their previous 10 games that prompted Coach Mike D'Antoni to resign Wednesday as much as it was D'Antoni having failed in his efforts to coexist with forward Carmelo Anthony.
D'Antoni's offensive system is ideally suited to player and ball movement; Anthony prefers to have the ball in his hands and to take as many shots as possible.
The last six weeks illustrated the incompatibility of New York's coach and star player. With Anthony sidelined by a strained groin, the Knicks went 7-1 with point guard Jeremy Lin spearheading a team-oriented approach. Upon Anthony's return, the team went 2-8 and divided into Anthony-versus-D'Antoni factions.
D'Antoni reportedly made a final effort to salvage his Knicks tenure by asking team owner James Dolan to consider trading Anthony. When Dolan declined, D'Antoni was the one on his way out.
"He had a certain ideal of a system that we were supposed to implement," forward Amare Stoudemire said of D'Antoni, who was replaced by Mike Woodson on an interim basis. "We all didn't quite buy into it, and he got frustrated. And I think that's why he took his way out."
An empty feeling
Nate McMillan no longer had Greg Oden. Then he no longer had Brandon Roy.
It wasn't long before the Portland Trail Blazers coach no longer had the support of ownership, his team's fortunes fading from the 54-victory season of 2008-09 to this season's sub.-500 mess. After three consecutive first-round playoff exits that had exasperated their fan base, the Blazers were no longer on track even to make the postseason.
McMillan's demise could largely be tied to the departures of Roy, an All-Star whose recurring knee problems forced his retirement in December, and Oden, whose own knee problems prompted the team to waive him Thursday.
All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge couldn't single-handedly carry a team that lacked cohesiveness amid the struggles of point guard Raymond Felton and dissatisfaction of reserve Jamal Crawford. Not that the Blazers' woes made dismissing the classy McMillan any easier.
"Hard to see coach Nate go," Aldridge tweeted. "He was my coach since day one and I've grown a lot under his coaching."
Big man on campus
Kevin Durant was involved in trade talk this week even though he wasn't going anywhere.
The Oklahoma City forward is set to star in a soon-to-be-released movie in which he switches places with a bumbling 14-year-old who becomes the star of his high school team. The flip side of "Thunderstruck" is that Durant suddenly loses his shooting touch.
That could be a tough sell, considering Durant is a two-time scoring champion making more than 50% of his shots this season for the first time.
"I stepped out of my comfort zone, and people are going to see that on film," the typically reticent superstar told ESPN.com. "I'm looking forward to everybody's reaction."
Just not that of his shooting coach.
— Ben Bolch