The New York Knicks are relevant in the NBA landscape again. Want proof? Coach Mike D'Antoni was on WFAN with Mike Francesa today, and we know Francesa could care less about a team if it isn't any good. More proof? We care enough here at SB Nation New York to quote some of what D'Antoni talked about, courtesy of our pals at Sports Radio Interviews.
On why the team got off to a 9-9 start:
"We’re shooting the ball better. Definitely the play of [Danilo] Gallinari’s gotten better and Wilson Chandler and those are the two who, kind of early, were missing a little bit in action. I think that we’ve found some things with Amar’e to try to get him a little bit freer instead of one against five. And Raymond Felton keeps getting better and keeps getting more comfortable."
On Amar’e's progression:
"He’s coming on and, again, he’s playing really well. The thing that impresses me — I knew he was a good player, he’s always been a great player and that’s not a surprise — but his leadership and what he’s trying to do with the team and stepping up in different areas and being able to take the criticism, he’s taken on that role real well."
On the team still being a work in progress:
"Oh without a doubt. The biggest thing is that you know that Amar’e wants to do it, but to be able to put him in a position where he doesn’t have to go one against five. Early, it didn’t work out too well. We had too many turnovers because we weren’t clearing enough space for him. I think we’re getting better at that. … That’ll always be a work in progress. We can do better."
On interest growing in the Knicks:
"I think so, a little bit. I hope so. I also think, as a team, you can do that because they won’t disappoint you on their heart. … We might not be good enough or whatever. You always worry about that. But I think they’re a little shell-shocked over the last few years and they’re almost afraid to root for us too much because they’ve been so disappointed. But I think you can get behind these guys. These are good guys. We might fall short, that could happen, but it’s not because of lack of character or lack of trying or lack of trying to get it done. I think they’ll appreciate that."
The Knicks (10-9) have not made the NBA playoffs since the 2003-2004 season, and have not won a playoff series since the 1999-2000 season. So, it's been a loooong time since they have played games worth paying attention to. This is hardly a championship team, but at least it is watchable.