Mike D’Antoni: “If you want to win a title and New York wants to be great you’ve got to get (superstars)”

February 23, 2011 – 11:20 am by Chris Fedor

It has been clear for months that Carmelo Anthony would not remain in Denver and it was just a matter of where he would end up prior to the trade deadline. It really came down to New Jersey and New York. While the Nets had an enticing offer for the All-Star forward, Anthony’s heart has always been in New York and now he will get his wish. While the Knicks had to gut a lot of their roster and dealt away three starters, including Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari to complete the deal, it was a price worth paying to land one of the best pure scorers in the NBA.

If you look around the NBA you can see that the league is dominated by stars and if you don’t have multiple stars, you can’t compete with the top teams around the league. Guys like Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinai, Wilson Chandler, and Timofey Mozgov don’t win championships, stars do. Now the Knicks have two of those players on the roster. The Knicks are not championship contenders this season. They still have some work to do with their roster, but it is a lot easier to acquire role players than it is to acquire guys like Carmelo and Amar’e. The Knicks might not be in the conversation with Boston, Miami, and even Chicago at this point, but they are extremely dangerous and bringing Chauncey Billups and ‘Melo to the Big Apple puts them closer to a title than they were last week.

Mike D’Antoni joined WFAN in new York with Boomer and Carton to talk about how excited he is to coach two guys like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, how important it was to get Chauncey Billups in the deal as well, if he thinks his team can come together quick enough, and whether or not there was some hesitation to make this deal based on who they had to include in the deal.

On getting the guys to play together:

“It’s a whole thing if players are able to give and take. We don’t want to take their egos away or their game and what made them successful, but they have to be able to blend it in with the other superstar per se or the other players. If they can do that successfully than we’re going to be a good team because the talent level obviously went up. Now can they play together and put their needs aside for the needs of the Knicks? They’re saying the right things. Now it will come down to doing it.”

How important Chauncey Billups was in the deal:

“Well people do forget how instrumental he was, the MVP of the Finals, won two titles, and he went from Detroit to Denver when they were floundering and made them a really good team. He’s only 34, he has a great body, has at least three or four more great years in him, he should be able to play at the All-Star level, and he’s the guy that has to kinda understand what the team needs and how to get Carmelo and Amar’e the ball and be successful. I don’t think you can underplay how important he is and yet you can’t put it all on his shoulders. That’s a big, big pickup for us.”

If they can come together quick enough to be dangerous:

“I think they have a good chance at it and I’m excited about doing it. There’s a level of talent here that we have never had so it does make it easier. Having said that we’re in sixth right now and we’re trying to hold onto that. Can we pass Atlanta who has been together for five years, Chicago who is playing well together, Boston, Orlando, and Miami, can you do that in this short time? We’ll see. I’d never say Amar’e and Carmelo can’t do something because they are strong-willed individuals where when push comes to shove they’re doing the shoving. And Chauncey is a proven winner so hold on and let’s see if we can do it. I do know that the Knicks franchise is better off today than it was yesterday and in the future, whether it’s next week or next year this team is going to be a lot better and we will raise some eyebrows around the league.”

If they hesitated to make the deal thinking they could get ‘Melo in free agency:

“I think everybody when you make a major decision like this you have days where the team will play great and you’ll go ‘we can wait this out or we can do that’ and then when we play bad it’s like ‘oh gosh let’s get rid of these guys.’ It’s human nature to ponder decisions. There’s a million moving parts and things to consider on how to get another superstar in here. Can we wait ‘till the summer? We had no idea even if we waited if people start putting franchise tags on things that we just couldn’t make it work this summer. What if? What if? What if? You just don’t know. We just took the obvious thing. The obvious thing was to get a talent like Carmelo in here, bite the bullet, and give up a lot of talent, but if you told me in June that Mozgov, Gallo, and even Landry Fields, that oh god we can’t get rid of them for Carmelo, it’s almost laughable. The assistant coaches have done a great job of developing this talent and we’ve got to do it again. We’ve got to find other guys that can be great role players for this team. We have to get them in a role that maximizes their talents and put them with superstars. You’ve got to get superstars. If you want to win a title and New York wants to be great you’ve got to get them. That’s not it. You’ve gotta blend them together, they’ve got to want to play together, they’ve got to be unselfish, and they’ve got to become champions. That means a lot. Can we get that? We’ll see, but there’s no other blueprint. It’s not like oh let’s just get a mediocre player and become a champion. They can be part of a championship team, but you’ve got to have that talent that you know is God given and that they come together.”

Listen to Mike D’Antoni on WFAN in New York here

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