I wasn’t going to blog on the latest out of touch Knick to rip Coach Mike D’Antoni and threaten team chemistry in the midst of a winning stretch of basketball, but since the New York Post has characteristically taken D’Antoni to task for the way he’s handled some of the pampered babies that currently dot the roster, I figured I’d offer an opposing viewpoint. After all, competing ideas are good.
Despite his chronic streakiness as a shooter, Hughes is a level-headed, mature, smart veteran who isn’t prone to mouthing off to the media without justification.
The Post then, true to form, attributes to Hughes (the latest player it is using as a tool to stir up controversy), a dubious message based on nothing Hughes said:
Hughes also wondered whether D’Antoni’s drastic shifts ultimately work and do not kill morale, referring to his methods as “mind games.”
(“mind games” = “wonder[ing] whether D’Antoni’s drastic shifts ultimately work and do not kill morale”?)
First, The Post is wrong that Hughes, a journeyman who has played for six teams, has rarely spouted off without justification in this league. He did it with the Cavs and the Bulls. Hughes claims he was “unhappy” as a Cav. Then he was unhappy as a Bull. Now he’s unhappy as a Knick. I’m starting to notice a trend: just as every coach Nate Robinson has ever played for has benched him, Larry Hughes seems to be unhappy wherever he is.
All of that said, I imagine that “better communication” would play out kind of like this (I originally posted a similar hypothetical conversation as a comment on theknicksblog.com):
Coach: Larry, I have to bench you for a while.
Larry: But Coach, why?
Coach: You see Larry, since you’ve come back from your groin injury you’ve played in five games and averaged something like 2 points in 15 minutes. I think if we gave your minutes to Nate for now, especially if he plays D, we might get more production and maybe more wins.
Larry: Oh, ok Coach. That’s totally understandable. Even though I really want to play so I can earn my contract for next year, I totally respect your decision. However, if you didn’t tell me all that first, I’d be very bitter and pout and complain even if we win 2 really dramatic games. I’d draw the attention to myself and threaten to disrupt team chemistry. But that’s all moot, because you told me first. One question though, why can’t you just play all of us?
Coach: Well, successful teams typically have short rotations, and someone has to be the odd man out. In the past, Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy played really short rotations and were very successful coaches for the Knicks. Don’t worry though, if you keep your mouth shut, maybe some fans will chant for you just like they chanted for John Wallace his rookie year and just like they chanted for Nate this year in the middle of our first winning month in ages.
Larry: Ok Coach. I’ll just wait my turn.
Coach: I’m glad you see it that way Larry. This doesn’t mean you’re on the bench forever, because I like your hustle and effort on D, but for now, we just need to find a combination that works. In the meantime just stay ready and collect your $166,527 game check. You get it every game this year whether you play or not, you know?
Larry: Ok Coach. Good talk. You might want to go find Eddy and Darko and explain all that to them too.