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D'Antoni appreciates Walsh's backing, still believes in plan

New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni yells

New York Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni yells during an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden. (March 3, 2010) Credit: Photo by JASON DECROW

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Mike D'Antoni on Thursday thanked team president Donnie Walsh for defending him and taking the blame a day earlier for the Knicks' poor record the past two seasons.

The Knicks' coach also said it wasn't necessary and pledged allegiance once again to the plan of going all-out to get under the cap for this summer's free-agent extravaganza.

"That's awful nice of him, first of all, and that's why I came here, because I have so much faith in him that we can get the job done together," said D'Antoni, who is 53-89 in the first two seasons of his four-year, $24-million contract.

"There's nobody out of the boat; everybody's in the same boat. That's nice of him to say, but everybody has their share of the responsibility. That's what we're going to do; we're sticking with the plan and we're going to try and see it through."

Walsh spoke out Wednesday to make it clear that D'Antoni isn't on the hot seat, not with the Knicks constantly changing personnel during the past two years.

Sure, they hoped to get under the cap and be playoff contenders, but that hasn't happened.

Next year, though? That could be different for D'Antoni. If the Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - sign big players to max contracts, expectations will by sky high.

D'Antoni says that doesn't worry him either.

"I just don't look at it that way," he said. "I'm too old to worry about other things. I'm always on the hot seat because it's my hot seat. We're in it to win and the losing hurts. That's up to other people to judge where I am, but at the same time, I'm not going to be sweating, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm on the hot seat.' I'm sweating right now."

Actually, he wasn't; he looked calm in his practice warm-ups, his back to a wall adorned with Knicks logos, his future depending in part on his ability to woo free agents to the Garden and then coach them to glory.

D'Antoni came to New York with a .608 career winning percentage. It's down to .551 going into tonight's game against the Raptors in Toronto. Is he concerned that the past two seasons have sullied his reputation?

"I'm sorry, but I just don't sit around and read what you guys say or listen to radio," he said. "I just try to do my job the best I can. I get crazy upset if we don't win. I'm miserable now. But we have a plan, we're going to stick to it, and try to turn this thing around."

Has he lost confidence in himself?

"No," he said. "I'm 100 percent sure the way we want to play will win. I think we'll win a championship this way. Now, not today. But that's where we want to get to."


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