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There is enough blame to go around for Knicks terrible start

Jaime C. Harris | 4/12/2011, 5:29 p.m.

The Knicks are only 12 games into the season and the blame game has already begun.

Who is at fault for the mounting losses as the Knicks grind through a four-game, five-day trip out west at the worst possible time?

There's no shortage of fans and media that place the blame in the lap of head coach Mike D'Antoni. Their culpability meter is certainly not pointing in the wrong direction as D'Antoni is indeed partly responsible for the abysmal start the Knicks have experienced.

But to argue he is the sole or primary reason why the Knicks appear to be well on their way to another discouraging season is to blindly ignore what was obvious before it even began. They lack the requisite personnel to consistently play on a high level. And on Tuesday in Denver, the Knicks faced the man who can profoundly change their state of being: Carmelo Anthony.

As has been written on these pages since the summer, the signing of Amare Stoudemire without adding a proven franchise player was little cause for excitement. Now it is painfully evident. Stoudemire is a good player and solid No. 2 on a playoff team. But he is not built to do the heavy lifting night in and out, and all of his deficiencies have been revealed to Knicks fans in the three weeks he's operated in the Garden. Most glaring is Stoudemire's lack of defense and rebounding acumen, and his inability to create his own shot on the perimeter.

While D'Antoni has stubbornly and unwisely dismissed building the Knicks on a foundation of defense, his shortage of reliable and versatile offensive talent has considerably contributed to the Knicks struggles. Correcting the roster problems falls under team president Donnie Walsh's job duties.

Ridiculous as it may be, some in the media have determined that any sizeable criticism of Walsh is absolution of Isiah Thomas for his shaky tenure with the Knicks and opens the door a little wider for his return.

Walsh did what he could to sign LeBron James. Now he must be even more urgent in pursuing Anthony. If this legitimate franchise player slips through Walsh's clutches, the next four years are likely to be bleak for the Knicks and the Stoudemire signing a $100 million disaster.

Blame D'Antoni for the loses if you like. Then open your eyes to reality.