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Knicks 125

DENVER - Nuggets coach George Karl said the Knicks master plan of tanking two seasons to get to the 2010 free agency usually does not work and believes it's been grossly unfair to coach Mike D'Antoni.

Last week, Karl recommended to D'Antoni that signing Allen Iverson would be a boost, but added a caveat. Karl, who coached Iverson in Denver for nearly two seasons, told D'Antoni to sign Iverson only if he plans to start him exclusively.

With the current roster, Karl said he thinks D'Antoni has no shot of having success and believes Knicks team president Donnie Walsh should make him a front-office executive who runs practices, but has an interim coach to absorb the losses on the resume. Karl thinks a coach in D'Antoni's situation is being "thrown to the wolves."

"The history of the game that I don't understand, that I don't think has a lot of success is going to the bottom and trying to sign a great free agent," Karl said before facing the 3-12 Knicks before last night's game. "I think it's a lack of respect to coaches. When you go to the bottom, that coach gets fired 90 percent of the time. You throw that coach to the wolves."

D'Antoni is safe, but his career coaching record is not. D'Antoni averaged 58 wins a season in four full years in Phoenix. His Knicks record is 35-63 after the Knicks' 128-125 loss to the Nuggets last night.

"Losing will strangle a coach," Karl said. "I don't like the philosophy. I don't think it's been a home run. I think you strikeout as often as you hit home runs with it. I praised Donnie Walsh, but the philosophy of what he's trying to do is difficult to coaching, miserable to coaching."

Earlier in the interview, Karl said he could understand the decision to pass on Iverson because of the importance of sticking to the master plan. But Karl doesn't like this plan.

"Don't get me wrong I understand it, but my feeling, Mike should be [named] vice president of Basketball and let him coach the practices and give the losses to someone else," said Karl, who shares the same agent with D'Antoni, Warren LeGarie.

D'Antoni lectured the media yesterday on promoting the false notion their defense hasn't improved. He abruptly stopped the media session at the morning shoot around to retrieve a stat sheet from the locker room and show statistical improvement in their defense the past five games. Clearly, the losing is getting to D'Antoni.

"Losing is painful," Karl said. "No matter how strong and tough you are it takes away your confidence. Probably Mike and Donnie will survive and maybe hit the grand slam and LeBron's playing in New York. That could happen. I just think we should respect coaching a little more."

To his credit, Walsh told The Post recently that he's to blame for the Knicks record and felt bad he's put D'Antoni in this position. Karl said yesterday: "Mike D'Antoni is not doing a bad job. He's probably doing a good job."

On the A.I. front, Karl said some teams would be interested in Iverson if he were willing to come off the bench. Karl warned that any team which signs him has to realize Iverson's ground rules.

"A.I. and the team, they got to have a picture that's the same picture on how you're going to use him," Karl said. "That's a stage of communication before you sign a deal rather than trying to work it out after you sign the deal."

Though Larry Brown and John Thompson want to talk Iverson out of retirement, Karl said he should do what he feels right.

"Maybe [Iverson] doesn't want to be a bench player," Karl said. "Maybe that's fair, the fair response to walk away from the game before you become a bench player."

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Added: December 1, 2009


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