Mike D’Antoni on the New-Look Knicks: “We’re Excited but Cautiously Optimistic Especially with all theYoung guys.”


Mike D’Antoni on the New-Look Knicks: “We’re excited but cautiously optimistic especially with all the young guys.”

The New York Knicks failed in their efforts to land a marquee free agent this offseason. Unless you consider Amar’e Stoudemire marquee, that is. He and Mike D’Antoni are reunited in New York this year, and though it’s unrealistic to think that the Knicks can keep up with the Heat, Celtics and Magic over the course of a long season, they’ll definitely be a more interesting and competitive team on a nightly basis. The Knicks begin the new season tonight at against the Raptors in Toronto.DAntoni ‘ joined The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio in New York to talk about why he thinks the Knicks’ roster is finally to a place where it can be competitive, how much of an impact he thinks Timofey Mozgov might have this season, how deep he’d like his rotation to be, how important it is for Danilo Gallinari to be more consistent, and how he’s put lots of pressure on himself to deliver a good year for the once proud franchise.

On why he thinks the Knicks will be more competitive this year:

“Well, you start with Amar’e Stoudemire first of all. He’s a legit top  whatever you want to call him – player in the league. So we’ll have a closer at the end of games which I thought we’d been lacking the last couple of years. Raymond Felton – very good player, went to the playoffs last year. Those two I think are kind of our rocks. And then after that, we have some exciting young guys and we’ll see who steps up. From Gallinari to Chandler to Mozgov to different guys on the team – I think we’ve improved.”

On how much of an impact he thinks Mozgov might have on the Knicks this year:

“Again, we’ll have to wait until the lights go on, but everything we’ve seen has been very encouraging. But he is 7-1, he is very athletic, he plays every play as hard as he can play, he’s learning how to play defense better every day, you tell him something in his game and he really incorporates it quickly. So he’s making a lot of progress real fast, and he’s already pretty good, so we’re expecting him to start tomorrow night. He did get banged up today in practice, but we’ll see if there’s any lingering effects, But he’ll be starting for us this year, so we’ll see where it goes.”

On how deep he’d like his rotation to be:

“Probably nine. You can play nine. Eight is really easy, nine you can do it, ten is very hard. Obviously if guys make a case that you’ve got to go ten, you will. But if everybody stays healthy, and if everybody is commanding minutes, nine is the number I feel most comfortable with.”

On how things are not at all set in stone in terms of rotations or playing time:

“No, and it can’t be because we have a lot of new faces and rookies. So we don’t know exactly how they’re going to react. We are excited about the team. We think we can improve as we go along, but at the same time we want to be good off the bat. We’re excited but cautiously optimistic especially with all the young guys.”

On the need for young guys like Gallinari to be more consistent on a nightly basis:

“I think his consistency…I think again, we put a lot on our younger guys, and sometimes they get caught up in being something they’re not. I think all of them need to try to find their game and then be able to be consistent with it and improve it slowly, and not think one day you’ve got to be Kobe Bryant, and then the next day you’ve got to be somebody else. So that’s a little bit of just being young, but also a little bit of playing with an uneven team in the sense that sometimes we relied on him, other times we couldn’t get the ball to him. Hopefully with Amar’e and Raymond kind of settling in as your rocks out there, that Gallo can find his niche and play the same every night. But it takes a little bit of a mental push, and he’s got to be able to do that this year. He’s got to come in ready, focused, and razor-sharp every game.”

On if he feels like there’s pressure to make the playoffs or potentially lose his job:

“Well, I don’t go to I’m in trouble. I’m always in trouble. You coach you’re in trouble. But there’s a lot of pressure on myself to do that. I wish this was my first year here, that we had a team that we rebuilt, and not kind of tread water for two years just to get to free agency like we did. That kind of went along with the program. But this is the first year that we feel like we’re going to make strides towards making a playoff push and building a great team here in New York. So I’m excited about it, but I think there’s always pressure. There’s pressure when you win 60 games in Phoenix. So any coach would be lying to you if they don’t feel the pressure.”

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