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Old 04-29-2011, 08:17 AM   #1
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Default Knicks brass may try to force Mike D'Antoni to bring on a defensive-minded assistant

As Donnie Walsh seeks to regain full autonomy within the Knicks organization, Mike D'Antoni could be losing some of his power on the Knicks' bench.

According to several sources, the front office will encourage D'Antoni to revamp his coaching staff to hire a defensive coach. In the past, D'Antoni has been reluctant to seek outside help, most famously refusing Steve Kerr's request four years ago to hire Tom Thibodeau in Phoenix. Thibodeau landed in Boston in 2007, and helped the Celtics win the title three seasons ago. He now is head coach of the top-seeded Bulls.

D'Antoni is under contract through next season and is expected to be retained after leading the Knicks to their first postseason appearance in seven years. However, under D'Antoni the Knicks have been among the league's weaker defensive teams, which is something Walsh would like to change.

Memphis assistant Dave Joerger, Orlando's Steve Clifford, Portland's Bill Bayno and Chicago's Ron Adams are all regarded as top defensive coaches. Another possibility for the Knicks is Thibodeau's replacement in Boston, Lawrence Frank, the former Nets' coach. Frank's contract expires this summer.

A move to hire another assistant does not necessarily mean one of D'Antoni's current assistants will be removed. Phil Weber, Dan D'Antoni, Herb Williams and the highly regarded Ken Atkinson are all expected to be retained. D'Antoni, who is expected to acquiesce to management, has made it clear that he wants to remain in New York. However, there will be several job openings this summer that D'Antoni might find attractive, including one with Golden State, whose roster has players better suited to play D'Antoni's up-tempo system than the Knicks currently do.

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