Dan D'Antoni explains why Mike and Melo will work in Houston
Pairing Anthony with fellow USA Basketball staples James Harden and Chris Paul figures to be an obvious fit, but there's also the tricky history between Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni and Anthony dating back to their time together with the New York Knicks.
Dan D'Antoni, older brother to Mike and a former assistant on the Knicks, explained to Harvey Araton of the New York Times why a reunion will be much smoother than before.
"In New York, Melo and other people were averse to Mike’s offense because it was not only different but it was early different," Dan D'Antoni explained.
"It was before Golden State, before it was settled that there was a new way to play in the NBA. But things change. The league changes. The game changes. Melo changes. Mike changes."
There was no rush to embrace pace-and-space basketball back in 2011 aside from Mike D'Antoni, who was a decade ahead of his time. Mike invented the "Seven Seconds or Less" offense with the Phoenix Suns back in 2003, and was hired to run the Knicks with that same philosophy in mind in 2008, but Anthony was reluctant to embrace that style.
Instead, Anthony joined the Knicks in 2011 with the intention of playing the bully-ball style that made him immensely successful with the Denver Nuggets. Anthony liked to hold the ball, attack mismatches in the halfcourt, and always operated with a shoot-first mentality.
Anthony and D'Antoni's philosophies clashed. The superstar won the power struggle against the coach, as is always the case.
"Melo left Denver for New York thinking the old way of playing - give it to your best player, hold the ball, one on one," Dan D’Antoni said. "But things were changing all around Melo. Bigger guys shooting threes, quick penetration, ball movement, to the point where it’s hard to even have one player on the floor that can’t score."
The NBA slowly came around to embracing D'Antoni's style. Almost every team in the league endeavors to spread the floor with shooters and attack through pick-and-roll, while also sprinting the floor for easy opportunities whenever possible.
The Knicks are among the few exceptions to resist this style, and it's no coincidence that they're among the worst teams in the league. The Rockets, meanwhile, finished with the third-best record last season by extrapolating upon D'Antoni's style, and they fully intend on running that system going forward.
Their hope is that Anthony will see the virtues of D'Antoni's system the second time around, and get with the times.