Frank Franklin II, Associated Press
NEW YORK — Maybe there's a big-name coach out there who can bring out the best in Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.
Mike D'Antoni decided Wednesday he wasn't that guy. And so, he resigned, surprising even his bosses.
"It wasn't just Carmelo," interim general manager Glen Grunwald said. "I think it was our whole team was not playing up to where we thought they could be and I know Mike was as frustrated as anyone about that and that's what led him to that decision, that maybe there needs to be a new approach and look at it."
Assistant Mike Woodson was promoted to interim head coach and led the Knicks to a 121-79 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden.
"I think everyone for the most part was obviously very emotional when we came, but we sat down and said, 'Look, this is where we want to go. This is how we feel like we need to get there,'" Jeremy Lin said. "So we came out with more energy than we have in a long time."
The Knicks' brief resurgence in a wave of Linsanity last month had been replaced by a six-game losing streak that dropped the Knicks into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, along of speculation of friction between D'Antoni and his All-Star forward.
Anthony denied it and said there was no "bad blood" between himself and the coach.
"As far as that, it is what it is when it comes that," Anthony said. "That's something I can't control as far as the blame being put on me. I don't sit here and complain about that.
D'Antoni ran the Knicks through their morning shootaround, but not before stopping into Grunwald's office at the Knicks' training center and telling him and fellow executive Allan Houston of his intentions.
Grunwald called MSG chairman James Dolan, who went up to the Westchester training center for what he called a "very honest" conversation with the D'Antoni. Dolan later said the parting was mutual.
"He clearly felt it was best for the organization if he were not to continue as coach of the team. He did offer to stay," Dolan said during a press conference. "After a long discussion, we did agree it was best for the organization to have new voice moving forward."
Dolan made it clear that he believes in the players and still expects a playoff berth. D'Antoni said before the season that the Knicks should be a contender, but they haven't looked like one in the previous 10 games — all since Anthony returned from a groin injury.
New York was just 2-8 in that span, and D'Antoni wasn't the only one who couldn't figure out why the Knicks couldn't win with their best player.
"It's hard to explain why we have struggled and I don't really don't want to get too deep on that," Woodson said. "I think what's more important is that we move forward."
A message was left with D'Antoni seeking comment.
He seemed upbeat after the morning practice and gave no indication of his plans. Asked the last thing he said to players, rookie Iman Shumpert said: "Well, this morning it was, 'See you tonight.' So like I said, it's a shock to us."
Anthony said after the shootaround he supported the coach "100 percent," denying a New York Post report that he would like a trade before Thursday's deadline.
D'Antoni acknowledged the media frenzy around the sinking club but believed the Knicks would handle it.
"You battle against it. I think we're cohesive enough to battle through this, and we expect to do that," he said.
His departure comes less than a month after he seemed rejuvenated by the emergence of Lin, the undrafted point guard from Harvard who came off the end of the bench and proved to be the player who could properly run his offensive system.
- BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe talks...
- For now, odds are '50-50' that BYU ends up in...
- Tebow’s recent breakup creates divide...
- Dick Harmon: Dick Harmon: Tanner Mangum is...
- Jimmer Fredette has BYU-esque performance in...
- After years of working and dreaming, BYU...
- Carter Williams: Steph Curry is becoming...
- About Utah: A big deal just got bigger
- Utes outlast Colorado to cap best... 113
- College Football: Utah moves back into... 71
- For now, odds are '50-50' that BYU ends... 71
- Morning links: Examining Utah's bowl... 68
- BYU's big plays, big second half, spell... 47
- Dick Harmon: After tossing 4 TDs, BYU's... 39
- Brad Rock: Utes need bowl win to avoid... 37
- BYU basketball: Collinsworth sets NCAA... 37