D'Antoni believes he can win with unchanged roster

September 26, 2008 5:11:05 PM PDT
Stephon Marbury is still here and perhaps will be for a while longer.Zach Randolph is still here and apparently was never close to going anywhere.

The New York Knicks will open training camp next week with mostly the same roster that was an embarrassment on and off the court while going 23-59 last season. President Donnie Walsh has made only one notable move since replacing Isiah Thomas in April, and it's the reason he thinks next season could be better even if the personnel suggests otherwise.

"Mike D'Antoni. I think he's a great coach. I hope people give him a chance," Walsh said Friday. "He'll make them better, I think, than anybody else would."

D'Antoni was a big winner in Phoenix, but it won't be easy in New York. The Knicks' roster doesn't seem suitable to the uptempo style he plays, but D'Antoni remains confident he will make it work, even though he believed there would be changes.

"Sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you didn't make, so I'm going with that one," D'Antoni said. "This is who we have. I'm not worried about what if. And again, I would not be excited if I thought there's no way we can do this. I really think that the talent surprised me, there's a lot of young guys that are very good and we can do well with what we have."

That includes Marbury and Randolph, two players who many around New York thought would be gone by the time camp opened next Tuesday in Saratoga Springs.

Marbury angered the organization and his teammates with his behavior last season, and speculation was the Knicks would prefer to get rid of him rat has been sidelined since the summer league opener with a back injury and D'Antoni said he won't be ready to go - at least at D'Antoni's pace - when camp opens. Neither Walsh nor D'Antoni sounded confident that center Eddy Curry was in shape enough to handle the new style right away.

Still, D'Antoni expects to find guys among the 18 who will be in camp who can play for him, and he refuses to believe it's best to play younger players who will be part of the team's future.

"That's screwy, that's not my job," he said. "That's management's job and everybody else. My job is to try to win every night and I'm going to play the guys that will give me the best shot to win every night, will give New York the best shot of winning every night."