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D'Antoni deserves another year

Jaime C. Harris | 5/25/2011, 9:23 a.m.

Many of you remain disappointed or even pissed off that the Knicks were swept by the Boston Celtics, becoming the only team not to win at least one game in the opening round of the 2011NBA playoffs.

But does it really matter if the Knicks lost 4-1 instead of 4-0?

The fundamental point is the Celtics were the better team and made the necessary adjustments after the Knicks' gallant effort in Game 2 to shut down any plan of attack Mike D'Antoni devised.

I can hear you screaming "What plan of attack? D'Antoni didn't have a clue!"

You are justified in your argument but not altogether correct. While it is widely accepted that the Knicks head coach and his staff were demonstratively outmaneuvered by the Celtics general, Doc Rivers, and his lieutenants, to contend that another coach could have squeezed much more out of D'Antoni's wounded and flawed roster is unreasonable.

With Chauncey Billups going down in Game 1 (strained left knee) and Amare Stoudemire (pulled back muscle) a shell of himself after injuring his back during warm-ups prior to tipoff of Game 2, the Knicks had no chance of seriously challenging the Celtics.

And to call for D'Antoni's ouster after a single series is excessive. He has one year remaining on a four year contract and should be given the opportunity to coach a team that will have Stoudemire and Anthony together for a full season. Then let's judge him on his body of work.

If it is current team president Donnie Walsh - whose status for next season is uncertain - or someone else who will be calling the shots moving forward, they must demand of D'Antoni that defense shares an equal priority with offense.

The man in charge should reach out to former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown to gauge his interest in joining the Knicks or someone with a similar track record to serve as the defensive mastermind.

The addition of a big, active body who consistently defends, rebounds and scores in the paint is vital. Adding a top tier point guard is also critical. Billups is a stopgap and Toney Douglas is clearly not the answer. The Celtics exposed him as an undersized two-guard who struggles to run an offense.

With Stoudemire and Anthony, the Knicks have strong cornerstones.

Now the pressure is on D'Antoni to establish that he is part of the solution and not the problem.