Mike D'Antoni Says Point Guards Are Key to New York Knicks Success

By A.J. Speier
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the New York Knicks didn’t have a reliable starting point guard capable of distributing the ball to their star players Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.

The Knicks amnestied Chauncey Billups and his $14.2 million contract last December and were left with Toney Douglas heading into the season opener. They made the move in order to free up enough cap room to sign Tyson Chandler to a four-year $56 million deal.

Douglas didn’t last long as the starter, so the Knicks tried out Iman Shumpert, Mike Bibby, Jeremy Lin and Baron Davis as their starter. All it got them was a 36-30 record and an early first round exit in a 4-1 series loss to the Miami Heat.

Linsanity gave the Knicks some hope at point guard without Anthony and Stoudemire, but Lin failed to find a way to coexist with the two superstars when they returned from injury.

The Houston Rockets are having a similar issue with Lin. Lin scored 38 points and had seven assists in the lone game James Harden missed, but is averaging just 10.0 points and 6.1 assists when Harden has played this season.

When the Rockets offered Lin a three-year $25.1 million contract sheet, the Knicks decided to go in a different direction by completing a sign-and-trade deal with the Portland Trailblazers to acquire Raymond Felton.

The Knicks also completed a sign-and-trade deal with the Dallas Mavericks for Jason Kidd and then signed Pablo Prigioni, a 35-year old point guard from Argentina making his NBA debut. Kidd has been seeing time at shooting guard with Prigioni coming off of the bench.

With Felton, Kidd and Prigioni, the Knicks are off to an Eastern Conference-best 16-5 record.

“They’ve got two point guards that know how to get the ball distributed, so they’re doing a good job,” former Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They’re spreading the floor and one of the best things they do is not turn it over and they shoot 3s. Those are two big stats that win and they do it the best in the league.”

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