Eclipse Fallout: D'Antoni to Leave Phoenix?
Well the Suns lost, again, to the Spurs, again, 92-87, and were eliminated from postseason play by San Antonio for the third time in four years. And according to Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum, D'Antoni is indeed headed out of the desert.
D'Antoni, the 2005 NBA Coach of the Year, feels he does not have the support of upper management, namely General Manager Steve Kerr, and that the situation is "irredeemable."'
After the Shaquille O'Neal trade, which clearly indicated a severe shift in philosophies from the run and gun style of D'Antoni's earlier Phoenix teams to a more conservative, half-court, defense-minded (in theory at least) squad, there were rampant rumors of a rift between coach and GM. Some time after the trade, the Suns held a press conference and stated that the Shaq trade was D'Antoni's idea. Which seems odd, considering it was the exact opposite of every tenet D'Antoni held as his coaching philosophy. Either way, D'Antoni was set up as the fall guy in this scenario, and with another disappointing end to the season in Phoenix, it looks like he'll be going through with that role.
Some suggestions bandied about for D'Antoni include Chicago, New York, and even Toronto, which may be considering 2007 NBA Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell.
Jeez, between D'Antoni (2005), Avery Johnson (2006), and Mitchell (2007), Coach of the Year is certainly turning into a death kiss. Watch your back, Byron.