Mike D’Antoni thinks that Carmelo Anthony will be a “better fit” with the Houston Rockets than he was with the New York Knicks. He also says that he doesn’t have any issues coaching Anthony six years after they had a falling out in New York. D’Antoni discussed his relationship with Anthony in an interview published by USA Today Sports on Monday, the same day the Rockets officially signed the 10-time All-Star.
The Rockets have been having a great couple of seasons. Especially since they brought in players to help support James Harden. D’Antoni has guided the Rockets to the NBA’s best record and a trip to the Western Conference finals this last season. He also coached Anthony for parts of two seasons with the Knicks, before resigning in March of 2012. He left after they couldn’t get off the ground, with a disappointing 18-24 start. D’Antoni later told ESPN that the real reason he left was the fact that Anthony gave the team an ultimatum where they were told to choose between D’Antoni and Anthony.
When D’Antoni was asked about coaching Anthony again, he indicated that things are different in Houston. But honestly, what else is he going to say? Maybe it is water under the bridge at this point, because so much time has passed. But even if it isn’t, they’re kind of stuck in this situation, so would anyone make any kind of statement or even a move? According to D’Antoni:
“In New York, when [the Knicks] gave away half the team [to the Nuggets in the 2011 trade for Anthony] and everybody expected us to win a championship, it really wasn’t realistic. It put a lot of pressure on everybody, and it kind of burst the pipes. I think this is totally different. We’ve got a team that is a whole bunch of veterans that really, we’ve got one thing in mind, and that’s to win a championship, and we have the possibility.”
In order to downplay the possible scandal, D’Antoni suggests that he and Anthony never had a blow up in New York. He also has indicated that he coached Anthony while he was with USA Basketball. Now I’m not saying that there is a scandal, per say, I just mean that there are two sides to every story, and I’m unclear on who’s telling the truth with this one. But does that even matter? Even if there was a beef, that was a long time ago, and surely one (or both) think that they contributed to it somehow and would like to move past it.
When Anthony was with the Knicks, there were some incredibly high expectations. Many looked at Anthony as the face of the team, and therefore they associated loss with him. But with the Rockets, he should be able to do some damage. He’s surrounded by James Harden and Chris Paul. Which will certainly help, but he has the Oklahoma Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Golden State Warriors to compete with. While likely a good move, the Western Conference just heated up like nobody’s business so what this will mean, is anyone’s guess.