The future of Mike D'Antoni as head coach of the New York Knicks apparently rests on the balky back and questionable leadership skills of veteran guard Baron Davis. Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick recently reported that the Knicks are going to wait to see if Davis is the piece they have been missing as they have lost nine of 10 and struggled to a 7-13 start to the NBA season.
Amick wrote that the Knicks see Davis as "the missing driver to the race car they have spent the last few years building. And until the hot rod goes around the track a few times, no one will be looking at the D'Antoni-led pit crew for answers."
With Phil Jackson making noise about coming out of retirement to coach the Knicks this cannot be a comforting feeling for D'Antoni. Especially since one NBA general manager recently said that Davis "has a reputation as a coach killer."
The problem for D'Antoni and the Knicks is that the oft-injured 32-year-old Davis appears to be the only hope they have of making their offense function smoothly. Even with Carmelo Anthony And Amare Stoudemire the Knicks are 14th in the league in points per game (93.7), 29th in field-goal percentage (41.4) and 25th in assists (18.55). They appear to have no idea how to get the ball to Stoudemire where he likes it and no flow to their offense.
Davis has averaged 16.5 points and 7.3 assists in his career. Last season he averaged 13.1 points and 6.7 assists.
It appears that Davis' charge this season is to assist D'Antoni in keeping his job. That could be a tall order, and if Davis can't do it the Knicks' future might well be turned over to Jackson.