While there are reports that the Chicago Bulls were indecisive as to whether or not D'Antoni was the right coach for them, or more specifically worth giving a contract near what the Knicks would offer, they certainly liked him. Furthermore, reports over the last few days said D'Antoni's first choice was the Bulls, and understandably so. With good young athletes on the team that can run the floor such as Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich, Thabo Sefolosha, Ben Gordon, and Larry Hughes, the Bulls would seem to be a good fit for D'Antoni's fast-paced style offensively. Without a low post scoring presence, their current roster is built to play fastbreak basketball. They had a dismal 2007-2008 season, but came into the season as one of the leading favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. I am not saying at all that D'Antoni would have just turned them into the Suns, as the Suns certainly have more talented players. But this is the Eastern Conference we are talking about, and I think D'Antoni could have made them a dangerous team in the conference.
So why would the Bulls not offer as much or near as much money as the Knicks to get D'Antoni? The Bulls want to maintain the defensive gameplan that made them such an annoying team to play prior to this season. D'Antoni is considered an offensive genius, but there is plenty of deserved criticism for his lack of concentration on defense. The Suns dominated year in and year out under D'Antoni on the offensive end during the regular season, but their terrible defense killed them every year in the playoffs. The Bulls apparently feel that he was not going to focus enough on defense, and while they knew he could do wonders for their offense, they want a balanced attack if they are going to throw a big contract at a coach. I think Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, who is considered a mastermind of defense and is credited for making the Celtics so outstanding in that aspect of the game this year, will be the leading candidate now for the Bulls' head coaching position.
D'Antoni will surely be asked if money was the deciding factor in choosing the Knicks over the Bulls, as I am assuming for many reasons that the Bulls were at least prepared to give him an offer if they did not already. Of course he will tell you although the contract is nice, it has little to do with his decision to take the job.
I can already tell you what he's pretty much going to say: "I'm proud to be a part of such a historic franchise in the biggest city in America. I really wanted the opportunity to turn around such a prominent franchise. Although it is going to take some hard work, and believe me, we'll work hard, I think we can get back there in the near future which is something the greatest fans in the NBA deserve."
D'Antoni was due around $9 million for the remainding 2 seasons of his contract with the Suns. It is unknown whether or not D'Antoni could stay with the Suns for sure, as he and general manager Steve Kerr were differing in philosophies. However, the heart and soul of their team in star point guard Steve Nash had this to say yesterday:
"This is the last thing I'm going to say about our coaching situation: Mike's my coach," Nash said. "So I expect to see Mike back here next year. And I know there's a lot of stuff going on right now, but Mike's my coach. I love playing for him. I expect to see him back in October."Steve Kerr better hope he did not anger Steve Nash. In fact, I would not at all be surprised to see Nash wanting to join D'Antoni in the future, because D'Antoni's offense brings out the best of Nash's abilities. A slower pace, defensive-minded gameplan will likely be what Kerr brings in for the Suns, and that will not be good for Nash.
So, what can he do with this Knicks team that went 23-59 last year? Get them to 30 wins? Maybe. Is that worth the $6 million he will be earning? Nope. I assume that the Knicks will try to make a major acquisition or two to accomodate D'Antoni's uptempo basketball, but their trade chips are quite weak at the time being.
He's not going to find an Amare Stoudemire down low with the two sluggish players in Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph. They still have a bunch of guards that all do the same thing: shoot, a lot. While that is what D'Antoni wants out of the shooting guard position, Steve Nash setting everybody up at point guard for the Suns made that offense so special. The Knicks do not have a distributor or smart point guard like that.
Stephon Marbury could be back, and he's a shoot-first point guard well past his prime(but don't tell him that).
Jamal Crawford is a very talented scorer, but he's really more of a combo guard. I think he can thrive in this system with his athetlicism, ability to push the ball, and shoot the three, but he's not a distributor that will control the offense.
All I know is if D'Antoni can turn this team around with their current roster, he's not worth just $6 million, he deserves a raise. If he doesn't? What does he care? He's getting $6 million a year.