Mike D'Antoni didn't sound or act like a coach who is worried about his job.
D'Antoni is in the last year of his contract, and the Knicks aren't playing up to the expectations he set for them.
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He knows what that usually means for a coach. Yet before the Knicks beat the Nets Saturday nightat Madison Square Garden, he was smiling, making jokes and showing no outward concern about his job security.
"It doesn't do anything for me," D'Antoni said. "If I do my job well, then things will be good. If we don't win, it will happen. I'm not worried one way or another, to be honest with you. I know, it's kind of, 'Yeah, right.' That's one good thing about being 60 years old. You don't have to worry too much."
This was the first time D'Antoni spoke in depth about his status since his job security became a daily topic.
D'Antoni, who guided the Knicks to their first winning season since 2000-01 and a playoff berth last season, had said they should compete for a championship this season. But they had dropped 11 of their last 13 games before beating the Nets, 99-92, to move to 9-15.
A league source said D'Antoni isn't in danger of losing his job.
If the losing continues, however, that could change.
One thing that could work in D'Antoni's favor: The Knicks have been playing harder and better lately. They could have taken a three-game winning streak into Saturday night. The Knicks easily beat the Pistons on Tuesday night, and their two games after that -- against the Eastern Conference-leading Bulls and at Boston -- came down to the final possession.
"It gives us hope," D'Antoni said. "If it wasn't like that, then we'd be in a world of hurt. The guys are doing everything they can to try to win. We've come up a little short. We're looking to get some breaks. A little is mental. When things go bad, you feel the tension until you start winning and it goes away and you get confidence as a team.
"We complicated things by losing games we should have won earlier. Things would be a lot more calm. You have to find inner strength. I do not question their desire or toughness. No question they'll give everything they've got, and hopefully, it's enough."
The Knicks can't erase home losses to Charlotte, Toronto, Milwaukee and Phoenix, but collectively they believe they're close to getting their season on track.
Carmelo Anthony, who has been playing with hand and ankle injuries, has been more effective and efficient since returning from a two-game absence to rest his ailments. Amar'e Stoudemire has been more explosive lately.
The Knicks still have holes in the backcourt and bench that they plan to address. They are banking on Baron Davis (herniated disc) having a big impact when he can play, but they're looking for insurance at point guard. Ramon Sessions is a possibility.
Shooting guard J.R. Smith also is on the Knicks' radar. He'll return from China later this month, and the Knicks are among the interested teams. D'Antoni wouldn't address Smith specifically but said "yeah" when he was asked if they need a veteran shooter.
"We know the areas we need help," he said. "We're looking hard."
In the meantime, D'Antoni plans to continue coaching the Knicks. "I'm doing and the players are doing the best they can do," he said. "We hope it works out. The chemistry is pretty good. We're improving and we're getting close. After that, it's up to the basketball gods."
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