NEW YORK The New York Knicks introduced Mike D'Antoni as their new coach Tuesday, hoping his high-scoring brand of basketball will turn around a team with seven straight losing seasons.
D'Antoni agreed to leave the Suns for the Knicks on Saturday, taking over a team coming off a 23-59 finish. He replaces Isiah Thomas, who was fired last month after going 56-108 in two seasons.
D'Antoni won at least 54 games each of the last four seasons and earned coach of the year honors in 2005. He is known as one of the NBA's top offensive minds, running a system that helped Steve Nash win two MVP awards and making the Suns one of the league's most exciting teams.
He brings his entertaining system to a team that seems ill-suited to run it. The Knicks aren't a quick team, with Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph up front and an unclear situation at point guard, but D'Antoni vows he will come up with a scheme that works with this group.
"I look at the roster and that's the roster I'm going to win with," D'Antoni said at a news conference at Madison Square Garden.
The 57-year-old D'Antoni went 253-136 in Phoenix, but the Suns let him talk to other clubs about their jobs after losing to San Antonio in the first round.
When Knicks president Donnie Walsh learned New York was one of those teams, he said he was in Phoenix probably a day later. Walsh then beat out the Chicago Bulls with a $24 million, four-year contract to land D'Antoni and make him the 24th coach in franchise history.
"Mike is a proven winner in this league with a long impressive coaching resume in the NBA and abroad," Walsh said. "While Mike's style in Phoenix was extremely successful with a running offensive team, he can adjust his style to the personnel."
Walsh took over in New York last month and has said it won't be easy to win right away with a mismatched roster that is well over the salary cap. Still, D'Antoni said he'll give it a try.
"My focus is to win this coming year," he said. "I know we need to win so that's my whole focus."
D'Antoni said he doesn't know if he will use his entire system, which focuses on trying to take a shot in the first 7 seconds of the shot clock, many of them 3-pointers. But he still wants to play fast and believes many of the players on the roster are capable of it.
"We were 7 seconds or less and the rules say you have to be 24 seconds or less," D'Antoni said. "So we can adjust it to anything we want."
After firing Thomas, Walsh took his time with his search, interviewing TV analyst Mark Jackson, coaches Rick Carlisle and Avery Johnson, and Knicks assistant Herb Williams. Though he introduced his new coach as Mike "D'Antonio," Walsh knew he had the right man.
"I thought that Mike was the best guy to choose because I think he's been in situations like we have right now and he did a good job with those situations," Walsh said.
D'Antoni's career record is 267-172 in parts of six seasons with Phoenix and Denver. He also coached Benetton Treviso to the 2002 Italian League championship.
HORFORD, DURANT LEAD ALL-ROOKIE TEAM: Al Horford and Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant headlined the NBA All-Rookie team announced Tuesday.
Atlanta's Horford was the only unanimous choice with 58 votes, followed by Seattle's Durant with 57 in balloting by the league's head coaches.
Houston's Luis Scola (53), Los Angeles Clippers forward Al Thornton (48) and Seattle's Jeff Green (43) also made the first team.
Horford ranked first among rookies in double-doubles (25) and rebounds (9.7), helping the Hawks end the league's longest postseason drought with their first playoff berth since 1999.
The 6-foot-9 Durant led the SuperSonics with 20.3 points per game, 7.6 more than any other rookie. He was the only first-year player to lead his team in five categories points, blocks, steals, free throws made and free throw percentage. Durant blocked more shots than any other guard in the league (75).
The All-Rookie second team was Toronto's Jamario Moon, Memphis' Juan Carlos Navarro, Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young, Detroit's Rodney Stuckey and Houston's Carl Landry.
BRYANT, GARNETT LEAD ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM: League MVP Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett were selected to the NBA All-Defensive Team on Monday, along with Marcus Camby, Bruce Bowen and Tim Duncan.
Garnett, who helped the Boston Celtics to the league's best record, was chosen for the ninth time. The forward was chosen Defensive Player of the Year last month.
Bryant, who earned his eighth selection, and Garnett each received 24 first-place votes from the league's 30 coaches. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players.
Garnett led a defense that held opponents to 90.3 points per game and a league best .418 field goal shooting percentage.
Camby had a league-leading 3.61 blocked shots per game for the Denver Nuggets and was second in rebounds (13.1 per game). Duncan, on the team for the 11th time, and Bowen, making the team for the eighth time, play for the San Antonio Spurs.
The second team is Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons and Raja Bell of the Phoenix Suns.
LARRY BIRD FILE LAWSUIT: Larry Bird filed a lawsuit alleging a couple who bought his former home in southern Indiana are improperly using his name to promote a bed-and-breakfast.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, claims Georgianna Lincoln and Christopher Cooke did not have permission to use the NBA Hall of Famer's name with the property and are profiting off his trademark by stating the home belonged to him.
"The commercialization of Larry Bird's name in association with this former property is wholly and completely unauthorized and is blatantly being done for the sole purpose of profiting illegally from Larry Bird's name," the lawsuit states.
Cooke, an attorney in Alaska, said Tuesday that negotiations had ended in good faith with a spoken permission to use Bird's name in association with the home.
"That's what it is. Everybody in French Lick calls it Larry Bird's home," Cooke said. "All I know is they told us certain things when we were considering purchasing the property, and after we bought it they had a different story."
The Web site for the 12-acre resort called the "Legend of French Lick" advertises the property as "the former home of Larry Bird" and invites visitors to play basketball on the court where Bird "spent hours practicing and perfecting his shot when at home in French Lick."
As a star with the Boston Celtics, Bird picked up various nicknames including "the Hick from French Lick" and the "Legend of French Lick." Bird, now president of the Indiana Pacers, trademarked his name and likeness with U.S. Patent and Trademark office to control their use in promotions and items such as T-shirts.
Cooke said he was aware of the trademark but stressed he was given permission to use it.
"They told me we could make truthful statements about Larry's past," Cooke said. "Larry even called me and wished us well and thought we would do well."