Mike D’Antoni resigned as coach of the New York Knicks today, a person familiar with the decision said.
Yahoo Sports first reported the surprising news, which comes with the Knicks in the middle of a late-season slide that could cost them a playoff spot.
New York has lost six in a row for the second time this season and has fallen into a tie for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The decision came just hours after star Carmelo Anthony denied there was a rift with D’Antoni.
The Knicks had struggled since Anthony returned from a groin injury 10 games ago. There was speculation that he and D’Antoni did not get along, though the All-Star forward said today he supported the coach “100 percent.”
D’Antoni put the Knicks through a morning workout today and had been preparing to coach them against the Portland Trail Blazers. Instead, Mike Woodson is expected to handle that role.
Never able to duplicate his success in Phoenix, D’Antoni was headed to his third losing season since signing a $24 million, four-year contract in 2008 that made him one of the NBA’s highest-paid coaches. He never won a playoff game in New York, where the Knicks were focused on the future during his first two years and made numerous changes that didn’t give him much of a chance to compete.
But they spent big this season, bringing in Tyson Chandler to play between Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, while adding players such as Baron Davis and JR Smith during the season, and D’Antoni acknowledged Wednesday morning it was his responsibility to make everything work.
His departure comes less than a month after he seemed rejuvenated by the emergence of Jeremy Lin, the undrafted point guard from Harvard who came off the end of the bench and proved to be the player who could properly run D’Antoni’s offensive system.
But the success didn’t last once Anthony returned, with the Knicks going 2-8 in a season that D’Antoni said should see them contend for a championship.