Monday, May 12, 2008
A couple of weeks ago I wrote that Mike D'Antoni seemingly had brain damage when he was noted as considering the Knicks job. Well I'm here to repent and say, you're right you're smart, I'm wrong, I'm an idiot. And why? Money, Money, Money... Money.
For any head coaching job there are only a handful of key factors. Talent, Fan Expectation Levels (pressure), Winning Timetable, GM talent & fit, and money. Some of these factors intertwine and effect the others but this is what a coach must think about when deciding between two different positions. In looking at the three available jobs for D'Antoni the only thing the Knicks lag behind in is talent, and it might not be as far behind as you expect.
The Suns obviously have the most talent. They are a perennial playoff team with a dominate scoring big man (Amare), the best offensive point guard in the league (Steve Nash), a great scoring 6th man (Barbaso) and a bunch of significant role players (yes I'm saying Shaq is a role player). The Bulls have a bunch of young talented but overrated players. Deng, Hughes, Gordon, Hinrich, Tyrus Thomas, Noah, & Gooden all are decent players near their prime but no one is a superstar. No player on that roster could emulate what Steve Nash did. The Knicks on the other hand have low post scoring with Randolph & Curry, some perimeter skills with Crawford, a hustle player in Lee and a potential top 3 pick in the draft.
Fan Expectation Levels
The fans in Phoenix aren't going to kill a coach if they don't win a title, probably cause they never have to deal with the bitter winter, but they want to win now and would be disappointed with another playoff exit. Bulls fans are confused as hell as to why their team which showed so much potential two seasons ago has gone to crap the last two seasons. They will expect their coach to immediately turn it around. Knicks fans are just pleased to see someone other than Isiah on the bench. If they make the playoffs they will be thrilled.
This is pretty much a combination of Fan Expectations and GM expectations. In Phoenix its win now & and the clock is ticking. The trade for Shaq means that the Suns window has either passed or is very limited. The Bulls aren't expected to contend for a title but their GM and Fans expect them to be as good as the Cavs and fend for the division title. The Fans and GM of the Knicks expect the Knicks to suck for a few years and then get good. There is no pressure in that and there is job security in fans and gms being aware of reality.
It's obvious that D'Antoni and Kerr were not on the same page right now. In Chicago it's likely that Paxson works similar to Kerr and could potentially have the same issues with D'Antoni that Kerr did. In New York, everyone respects Donny Walsh and he is more of a laid back get the team together and let the coach coach.
The vast majority of us won't ever see a paycheck of 3 million dollars for a single year so people have a tendency to say 'why take the worse job at 6 million when you can have a better one at 3 million?'. Why because it's 3 god damn million dollars a year, it's doubling your potential salary in a spot that arguably has more job security do to decreased expectations. 3 million dollars a year is a lot of money, 6 million dollars a year is a lot more money. Money is good. Money makes the Knicks job, which arguably isn't worse than the Bulls job in basketball terms, a much more appealing job.