D'Antoni can call the bluff of his boss today, but he'd better be careful tomorrow. The Knicks are a mess, and league friends of D'Antoni believe he has deep regret for passing on Chicago for New York. He let his ego and agent push him out of Phoenix, and let his desire for money over winning pass on Chicago. Make no mistake, though: That was two months ago and this is now. New York has a Garden winning streak of six games, and New York isn't on his case for the holidays.
First, let's note that his moment of regret was when the Bulls looked a lot better than they do right now. Also, Derrick Rose wasn't on the table when he made his decision, or he may have thought differently.
However, what would the Bulls look like with Mike D'Antoni as head coach? First, I'd have to wonder if they would have kept Ben Gordon last off-season when he came back to him about the 6/54 offer. D'Antoni would have loved Gordon in his system, so I think he would have fought hard for him. I would think Vinny would also want Gordon badly, but he may not have had the clout to pull off such a fight even if he made it.
Next, if the Bulls are in that epic seven game series against Boston, don't you think they win? There were several points where timeouts and coaching misfires were critical issues in losses. I think you insert any number of different coaches, and the team probably wins that series.
How would he have effected the present roster though? That, I'm a bit unsure of. The one thing I'm confident in is that Luol Deng wouldn't be stepping into two point shots all day long. I think Deng is the player who's game would have been helped the most by D'Antoni, because he would have been forced out of his comfort zone and forced to shoot threes. His FG% would lower a tad, but his efficiency would trend up to 54-55 TS%.
The rest of the roster? I'm not so sure about. The way they've played this year, the roster seems like a horrible fit for his system. A system which launches a ton of threes and doesn't have natural three point shooters. You want Tyrus to stop taking jumpers? Good luck.
The big question is, would John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich find their strokes in catch and shoot situations if they were forced to take five or more threes per game? There's no real way to answer that question. You'd think they'd be better with consistent high volume reps, but would they be better enough? Salmons in particular struggles in catch and shoot situations.
One thing you can say is the offensive numbers would be inflated. It's far less likely that John Salmons is opting in this summer, if he gets the d'inflation boost to his stats.
Many will wonder about the effect on Derrick Rose. I'm not sure what D'Antoni would do for Rose. Would he try to mold him into a Nash like PG? Would he have been even remotely successful if he did? Rose is almost nothing like Nash. He doesn't have the court vision or the ball handling that Nash does, but he's obviously more explosive and athletic.
How successful Rose would look in the D'Antoni system depends entirely on the previous answers to how well Hinrich, Salmons, and Deng would space the floor with their three point shots. We already know Derrick Rose can dominate when he has room, but our guys haven't been able to provide that room. Would that change under D'Antoni?
It's impossible to know the answers to all of these questions, but I know this. The Bulls would look somewhere between better and a hell of a lot better. Their cap situation would likely be improved, they may have been forced into a better roster decision, they may have won a playoff series last season, and they certainly would have a chance to have a notably better record this season.
With the Chicago Bulls roster suddenly performing worse than the Knicks roster, New York has become the leading FA destination this off-season [among teams who aren't luring back their own guy]. The gap between D'Antoni and Del Negro tipped the scales in NY's favor. Not due to the desirability of playing for the coach [Del Negro won't be here next year anyway, and the Bulls could theoretically hire a desirable caoch], but in the image the two cities will have that summer.
When Reinsdorf looks back on the money he saved in hiring Del Negro,
he's likely going to find that he probably cost him self a minimum of 10s of
millions of dollars in lost ticket sales, fan interest, and
opportunity. If a top tier FA lands in NY, it's not far-fetched to say it will also have cost him a potential championship contender. Pennywise, dollar foolish.