Mike D’Antoni On Re-Signing Lee, Darko’s Past, Douglas, And Rubio

June 26, 2009 – 11:00 am by Tas Melas

Baby steps, baby steps.  When Mike D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh took over the Knicks a year ago, they knew this would be a long battle.  Isiah Thomas et al (mostly Isiah) had really done a number on this roster; to be in the position they stand right now is pretty remarkable for these two basketball men.  The season of 2010-2011, after more changes are made, is a realistic possibility for these Knicks to do some major damage in the east.  I’m really hypothesizing here without much to go on, but money and brains are in the Knicks favor, something which couldn’t be said 15 months ago.  In last night’s NBA draft, the Knicks went with big man, Jordan Hill, in the eight spot (much to the chagrin of the New York crowd), selected Toney Douglas at 29, and acquired Darko Milicic in a minor trade.  Head coach, Mike D’Antoni joined Boomer and Carton on WFAN to discuss Darko’s failings, if drafting Hill means the end of David Lee, he compares Toney Douglas to a sleeper in last year’s draft, and he shares a cool story about Ricky Rubio.

Does drafting Jordan Hill means David Lee might be on his way out?  Is that accurate?

“No, I don’t think that’s accurate in a sense they’re two separate transactions.  One, is that we’re gonna try and take the best guy in the draft, regardless of the position – it doesn’t affect anybody else.  Now, this summer when we get in to free agency, we’re gonna do the best we can do.  You don’t give away talent, we’d like to keep our nucleus together, we’d love to move forward just adding pieces.  You never know what’s gonna transpire, but one doesn’t have anything to do with the other.”

Why hasn’t Darko Milicic succeeded in the NBA?

“I really don’t know, you can speculate why he hasn’t panned out up to now.  He has a world of talent, he’s seven feet, if not seven two, can run the floor, he has everything we’re looking for.  Now, why that hasn’t translated up to now, we’ll find out.  A lot of coaches have tried, a lot of staff has worked with it and it hasn’t been the best for him… Darko is gonna be fun to work with because of the potential that he has.  No guarantees.”

What do you think you’re getting with Toney Douglas at number 29?

“Toney hopefully is one of those sleepers, a little like Courtney Lee was last year.  Here’s a guy who was Defensive Player of the Year in the ACC but at the same time, he averaged 21 points.  I think he had 30 at North Carolina one time.  Some people say he should have been the most valuable player of the league.  I do know he’s a great kid, very personable, tough as nails, and we’ll see what happens.  We have high hopes for him, as a backup to start with, what his future will be, I don’t know, but I think he could be a steal.”

What do you think Ricky Rubio’s ceiling is?

“The only thing I know is that age 17 he is starting on a gold medal game in the Olympics, and he’s starting against Jason Kidd, he plays against Chris Paul, and they come over and say, ‘Hey, coach, this guy’s for real.’  That’s all I know.  That’s a pretty good thing to know.”

Listen to Mike D’Antoni on WFAN with Boomer and Carton

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