D’Antoni Said to Be Out as Knicks’ Coach Amid Losing Streak

Photographer: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni directs his team in a game against the Golden State Warriors on Oakland, California, on Dec. 28, 2011. Close

New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni directs his team in a game against the Golden... Read More

Photographer: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni directs his team in a game against the Golden State Warriors on Oakland, California, on Dec. 28, 2011.

Mike D’Antoni is out as coach of the New York Knicks amid a six-game losing streak and locker- room bickering, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

The person was granted anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss it. There was no immediate word on who would coach the Knicks beginning tonight at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Barry Watkins, a spokesman for Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Knicks, declined to comment on D’Antoni in an e- mail. Yahoo! Inc.’s website reported today that D’Antoni left in a mutual decision with team owner James Dolan.

The departure came hours after the New York Post said All- Star forward Carmelo Anthony wanted to be traded by tomorrow’s league deadline and had created a rift with D’Antoni. Anthony responded on Twitter today, saying that he didn’t want to be traded and told reporters at practice that he supported the coach.

It also comes less than a month after the Knicks, with Anthony sidelined by injuries and Jeremy Lin taking over as point guard, had become the toast of the NBA, by winning seven straight games.

D’Antoni stepped down in his fourth season with the Knicks, who are 18-24 after losing eight of their last 10 games. He was in the final season of his contract with New York.

He exits with a 121-167 record since joining the Knicks before the 2008-09 season. The team reached the playoffs last season with a 42-40 record before being swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round.

Franchise Shakeup

The Knicks hired D’Antoni as coach and Donnie Walsh as team president in 2008 to resurrect a salary burdened franchise that had seven straight losing seasons, including a team-record-tying 59 losses in 2007-08 under then-president and coach Isiah Thomas. D’Antoni was given a four-year contract worth $24 million.

As coach of the Phoenix Suns for five seasons, D’Antoni became known for a high-powered offense, directing his players to get off a shot within seven seconds of gaining possession. The Suns led the NBA in scoring for three straight seasons beginning in 2004-05 and reached the Western Conference finals in 2005 and 2007.

That type of attack -- and success in the standings --never took root with the Knicks. New York is 12th in scoring among the NBA’s 30 franchises, averaging 96.7 points per game.

Walsh Strategy

Walsh led the Knicks’ strategy to free salary cap space to try to land LeBron James or another star player in July 2010. All-Star forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire joined the club that offseason, when James went to the Miami Heat, joining fellow free-agent All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. New York eventually traded for Anthony and point guard Chauncey Billups in February 2011, leading to their first playoff appearance in seven years. Walsh stepped down as president in June.

New York waived Billups in December, signing power forward Tyson Chandler as the NBA got set to start a lockout-shortened 66-game season. With injured point guard Baron Davis, another new addition, unable to play the Knicks lacked cohesiveness until Lin, a Harvard University graduate cut by two other NBA teams, took over as starting point guard on Feb. 6 and helped the team reach .500.

The resurgence became known as Linsanity and helped boost television ratings and ticket prices on the resale market and grab international headlines.

As the team slid back down recently, fans at Madison Square Garden, where ticket prices rose an average of 49 percent this season, have again booed the home team.

D’Antoni also coached the Denver Nuggets and has a 388-339 record in 10 NBA seasons. He was named the league’s Coach of the Year for 2004-05.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net; Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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