Head coach Mike D'Antoni has a lot of work to do.

The third-year coach of the Knicks now has to toss out the playbook, and come up with a new collection of plays.

The Knicks have lost three of five starters. D'Antoni suddenly has to put together a new lineup, and make sure they are all on the same page.

That's the bad news. The good news is, he just landed one of the best scorers in the NBA.

In the frontcourt, Amare Stoudemire will be joined by Carmelo Anthony, as well as Ronny Turiaf who has suddenly been thrust into the starting lineup. Turiaf has 13 starts this season, and averages only 18.5 minutes per game.

In the backcourt, Donnie Walsh managed to hold on to Landry Fields, and the rookie guard will now be teamed with Chauncey Billups, who at 34 remains a quality point guard, averaging 16.5 points per game, and basically putting up the same numbers he did when he played for the NBA Champion Detroit Pistons in 2003-2004.

The bench wasn't a strong suit for the Knicks in the first place, and now seems a little weaker. Point guard Toney Douglas is joined by Corey Brewer (pending that the trade with Minnesota goes through.)

The front court bench consists of Shawne Williams, Shelden Williams, and Renaldo Balkman, who is in his second stint with the Knicks, the team that drafted him.

Veteran guard Anthony Carter has received sparse playing time this season with the Nuggets, and will likely do the same for the Knicks.

The idea of a D'Antoni coaching Billups and Anthony, and a bench of non-full court players is a departure from the style that many anticipated he would when he arrived in New York. His previous style was an up-tempo, fast-breaking offense, when he coached Phoenix.

Raymond Felton managed the role of up-tempo playmaker as well as he possibly could. Steve Nash ran D'Antoni's style to near perfection, but Felton could not possibly live up to the expectations of performing the way Nash did.

Now the reigns switch from the young Felton to the elder statesman of Billups. That may very well turn out to be a good thing come playoff time.

Billups knows Eastern Conference playoff basketball better than nearly every big-name player going to the postseason this season. He also is one of the greatest free-throw shooters in NBA history.

It's up to Billups to make sure Stoudemire and Anthony get the correct number of touches. Also, the 14-year veteran will be responsible to continue to groom the burgeoning progress of backcourt mate Fields.

With the Anthony trade, the Knicks have gotten slower, but they may have gotten better. D'Antoni will be shortening up his bench, and the responsibility of winning this season falls on the shoulders of four players: Anthony, Stoudemire, Billups, and Fields.

Are the Knicks contenders to come out of the East? Probably not this season.

But they have perhaps catapulted two seeds in the playoff brackets, and that will probably mean the difference in getting bounced in the first round and advancing to the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.

Remember this important fact: the Knicks are 28-26 in the standings. They currently have the sixth best record.

It will be interesting to see where the Knicks are in the standings after April 13. That's the date New York will face the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in the last game of the season.