Donnie Walsh does not want to see Mike D'Antoni blamed, saying the 2008-2009 Knicks did not underachieve because the talent level was in the 30-win range. After the Knicks routed the Nets, 102-73, in the meaningless season finale at the Garden last night, D'Antoni finished up his first season in New York at 32-50. "I got a lot of work to do," Walsh said. "Looking at this team, I'm not sure this is a playoff team as constructed. I'm real happy with the coach. I think he's great. Actually, I wasn't sure he'd get to 30 wins. The fact he got to 30 wins, I give him credit."
Donnie Walsh admitted his dual goal of keeping the team competitive while getting under the salary cap for 2010 did not work. The Knicks finished with the East's second-worst record -- just like last season. They will be seeded seventh in the lottery. For two weeks now, D'Antoni has talked about blowing up the roster. The undersized club allowed 108.2 points and an opponents' field-goal percentage of 48.2 -- both second-worst in the league, furthering D'Antoni's no-D reputation.
Whether next season includes Dave Lee or Nate Robinson, both restricted free agents, is up in the air. They may have played their last game as Knicks last night, with Lee securing the league's double-double crown with his 65th of the season (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Robinson adding 12 points and four assists.
The Knicks can match any offer. Walsh has said that either player will be kept only at a certain salary to protect their 2010 cap. Sources say D'Antoni prefers to keep only Lee and look for a free-agent point guard elsewhere -- with Jason Kidd potentially available for the mid-level exception