Fanatics have been trying to tell everyone who would listen that one of the major problems with this season’s team is the impact of Mike D’Antoni’s stubbornness and poor communication skills. Both traits were apparent before he joined the Knicks. His stubborn insistence on using his offense as his defense led him to leave the Suns and skip over the Bulls in favor of the desperate Knicks. His unwillingness to communicate clearly with players was described, if not specifically identified as such, in Jack McCullum’s Seven Seconds or Less. D’Antoni regularly assigned communication with specific players to other coaches. So far this season accusations of poor communication have largely gone ignored because they usually originate from disgruntled players relegated to DNP Coach’s Decision status such as Larry Hughes, Nate Robinson, Eddy Curry. Darko Milicic and Al Harrington at various points during the season.
However, apparently D’Antoni has had enough of the status quo and of Nate Robinson running his team after last two games as a starter. D’Antoni felt it was time to meet with and lean on his team captain to right the ship and help him communicate with players. According to the New York Post, D’Antoni met with Duhon after deciding to return him to the starting lineup. At the meeting, he also asked Duhon what could be done to improve the team and Duhon spoke about better commmunications between the coach and player. Marc Berman, of the New York Post, reported the following:
Not surprisingly, the communication issue came up, with D’Antoni agreeing he needs to talk to the players more often and get their thoughts — even during a game.
Players have complained publicly and privately D’Antoni doesn’t communicate enough individually to guys and define their roles — with Larry Hughes, Eddy Curry, Robinson, Al Harrington and Darko Milicic headlining the list.
Of course, Chris Duhon was diplomatic in describing how communication needed to improve between the players and the coach.
“It’s tough being head coach,” Duhon said. “We as players think that we can do it, but we really can’t. But the main thing is communicating with him more when the game is going on.”