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Mike D’Antoni Fired From Suns. NY Fans Salivating At Fast Break Basketball.

April 30, 2008

I was just reading this bit about whether Steve Kerr would consider firing Suns’ Mike D’Antoni

AND HE DID GET FIREDHe Might Have gotten fired.

D’Antoni, sources say, believes that the situation has been festering all season and that nothing would be accomplished in the meeting. Whatever the circumstances of his departure, it will probably be presented as as a rift between coach and GM, and to a large extent that’s true. But when Colangelo left for Toronto, mostly because he and Sarver were doomed not to coexist harmoniously, D’Antoni lost his biggest booster in the front office, as well as a friend. It’s what happens in the NBA and in all pro sports.

Over four full seasons D’Antoni racked up a 232-96 record, made the Western finals twice and changed the way that observers both in and out of the league thought about the game. Management might have some legitimate gripes about his defensive coaching, and remember that D’Antoni was a bigger booster of the trade for Shaquille O’Neal than Kerr was.

But Suns management now faces one extremely formidable challenge in l’affaire D’Antoni: finding someone better.

D'Antoni yellingBUT WAIT… Drama. The Arizona Republic says that the firing is not so:

Suns General Manager Steve Kerr denied that report [that Mike D’Antoni would not return as coach of the Suns] early Wednesday.

“There’s no truth to that,” Kerr said. “I asked Mike when the story came out and he denied it. Mike’s our coach and has done a great job for four years. We’ll get together soon and talk about where this team can go from here.”

With two years and $8.5 million left on his contract, D’Antoni is unlikely to be fired. If he returns, it could be with concessions to change. But there is also the possibility that he leaves of his own accord, especially with a perceived lack of support – and interest from New York and Chicago, both of which have vacancies. There is also the chance Toronto President Bryan Colangelo fired Sam Mitchell to hire the coach he brought to Phoenix from Italy.

An article in this week’s Sports Illustrated will fan the flames. It paints a picture of a divide between the coaching staff and front office staff. It talks about D’Antoni resenting Suns General Manager Steve Kerr working out of San Diego and taking perceived shots at him in the press, and that Kerr thinks D’Antoni is too stubborn to accept Kerr’s suggestions, whether it be in strategy or personnel use.

Sources confirmed an SI anecdote that Kerr and D’Antoni had an early November argument in which Kerr suggested that the Suns feature post-up plays for Amaré Stoudemire more often. That incited D’Antoni, who set off a shouting match that included him saying, “Don’t tell me how to coach offense.”

Someone call the Knicks. MAKE THIS MAN AN OFFER. NOW. A BIG ONE. If there are reports about a dude being fired, he’s probably not on good terms and can be brought to NY. The coach is not worth the number 1 draft pick (in exchange for D’Antoni’s services and the #15 pick…) but… hm… if the Knicks don’t get a top-5 pick, I think I’d trade that pick for D’Antoni. Imagine Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford and David Lee in that system. Imagine the free agents who would want to come to New York. Imagine the buzz in Madison Square Garden.

I am salivating.

There’s a Fire Steve Kerr site already.

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