Mike D'Antoni has resigned from the New York Knicks, so here's a rundown of the top 5 replacement coach options.
The news comes after a blockbuster report emerged Wednesday morning in the New York Post stating that Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony wants to be traded to another team because of personal issues he has with the contentious coach.
Mike D'Antoni and Carmelo have not gotten along since the All-Star returned last year to the hometown team of his childhood. The tension reportedly started amid reports that D'Antoni was against the trade for Anthony, who was turned off by his future coach's opposition to him.
Anthony has repeatedly shown his displeasure with D'Antoni, reports have alleged, by ignoring his coach and even walking out of a recent huddle.
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And despite a slight uptick in his popularity during the short-lived period of Linsanity that surrounded the unexpected rise of star point guard Jeremy Lin, D'Antoni has remained a hated figure for many Knicks fans after he continues to fail to mold a top-tier team out of some of the most expensive and explosive talent in the league.
The Knicks are in the midst of a six-game losing streak, and have almost fallen out of contention for the 2012 NBA Playoffs, which would have spelled the end of the embattled head coach's career anyway.
Since being hired in 2008, Mike D'Antoni has led the Knicks to a dismal 121-167 record and hasn't led them to a single measly playoff game win. And he has consistently failed to instill a sense of the importance of defense to a team chock-full of high-scoring stars.
With D'Antoni here are the top five replacement coach options that the New York Knicks may consider as the fallout from his resignation ripples throughout the entire organization:
1. Mike Woodson: Though he is a long-shot for the slot of permanent Knicks head coach, Mike Woodson has already been confirmed as the team's interim head coach through the end of the year, according to Yahoo! Sports. Woodson, who was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks from 2004 to 2010, is a respected figure in the Knicks organization, and he was the natural candidate to temporarily fill the void left by D'Antoni's departure. But if he somehow manages to reignite the Linsanity, get Amar'e Stoudemire on the boards and put the ball in Anthony's hands at the right moments, and the team makes a deep postseason run, he may just stick around a little longer. There have been no reports to this effect, but the limelight would be enticing for him, and if he is able to entice the respect of the Knicks' notoriously critical fan base, the organization may embrace him and give him a shot at the helm.
2. Phil Jackson: This sounds insane, we know. But ESPN Radio's Stephen A. Smith said on Monday that Phil Jackson would coach the Knicks if management asked him to, and it's hard to see how his selection wouldn't excite the fans that have been so hard to please in New York since the Ewing era. Jackson has the experience needed to corral the overflowing talent currently on the New York squad and create a team worthy of the Knickerbockers name, and of Madison Square Garden. Considered by many fans to be the best NBA coach in the history of the league, he has won 11 championships at the head of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, and to win it all in New York City is perhaps the last notch left for his totem. James Dolan, chairman of MSG, has not yet stated whether or not he is interested in Jackson, but the masterful basketball mind would be hard to turn down if he became a viable head coaching option.
3. Jerry Sloan: Sloan is one of the most-respected coaches in the history of the NBA, and Twitter was abuzz Wednesday afternoon with rumors that the Knicks may be gunning for him to take D'Antoni's position. He's been out of the game for a year, but the allure of the Knicks franchise, and a line-up including Lin, Anthony, Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler could be enough to draw Sloan--who is one of only three head coaches in league history to lead a team to 15 consecutive winning seasons--back into the fray. A first-round NBA pick in 1965 by the Baltimore Bullets, Sloan has the mix of coaching and playing experience that may be needed to reign in a team so notorious for being unable to turn into a disciplined machine. Don't count him out of the running if Jackson doesn't end up heading the Knicks next year.
4. John Calipari: Calipari has had a great streak at the University of Memphis and the University of Kentucky since returning to college after a short-lived, unsuccessful run in the NBA. His speedily-reconstructed Wildcats squad is the best team in the NCAA, and he has the best chance of any college basketball coach of taking the 2012 NCAA Championship trophy home. And he was suspiciously quick to shoot down the non-existent rumors that he is going to take over for D'Antoni, taking to Twitter within two hours of the announcement the Knicks coach was stepping down to say the following: As I've said before, I have the greatest job in basketball at any level. Why would I be interested in another job? He has a history of leaving programs behind, and it has to be hard to watch all your best talent leave after one year, like John Wall in 2010.
5. Stan Van Gundy: If the stars align just the right way to royally screw Orlando Magic fans out of any hopes for a championship in the next decade, Dwight Howard will go to one of the (EVERY SINGLE) teams in the NBA who want him, and Stan Van Gundy will go to the Knicks. Howard would have to go first, but if he does, expect Van Gundy to be searching quickly thereafter for a team with some talent to coach. If not, he'll be stuck with a weak crew that counts J.J. Reddick as one of its greatest hopes. Not a great spot to find oneself in. In your D'Antoni replacement bracket, don't have Van Gundy going out early. He could be the Knicks' next great hope.