MANHATTAN — Coach Mike D'Antoni abruptly resigned Wedneday with the Knicks struggling through yet another losing season and after a six-game losing streak.
D'Antoni's departure came as the team was preparing to face the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden. Assistant coach Mike Woodsen will fill in as interim head coach.
"The season is not over," said team owner James Dolan during an afternoon press conference.
"I want to be clear: I believe in our players," he said. "I believe in our talent."
D'Antoni he struggled to incorporate superstars Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and the newly acquired Tyson Chandler into a coherent and winning system. Even after point guard Jeremy Lin emerged, the team experienced a string of wins only to rack up more loses.
"I'm disappointed," said team General Manager Glen Grunwald. "It's been a rough go for Mike. He's a great coach, and an even better guy."
News of D'Antoni's departure was first reported by Yahoo!
Yahoo! cited an unnamed source who said that team owner James Dolan "is blaming the coach" for the Knicks woes.
“Tyson [Chandler], Baron [Davis], A’mare [Stoudemire] – guys who came to play for Mike – or that system – are pissed," the source said. "[Jeremy] Lin isn’t happy either.”
Assistant coaches Dan D'Antoni and Phil Weber are also out, Yahoo! reported.
Fans outside Madison Square Garden Wednedsay afternoon were mixed on D'Antoni's departure.
"I think it's terrible. I love the guy," said Lou Russo, 59, from the Upper East Side. "I blame Dolan 100 percent. He's oblivious."
Troy Starks, 50, who's from Forest Hills and was sporting a Knicks' hoodie was shocked by the news.
"I think he was caught in the middle," Starks said. "Sometimes you have too much talent and there's only one ball. He deserves some blame. If you have talent you have to make it work, but this isn't all his fault."
D'Antoni joined the team in 2009 to begin the process of turning the team around after nearly a decade of losing and controversy. He had to work with constant team overhauls as the Knicks dumped bad players with bloated contracts who were held over from the Isiah Thomas era.
Things started looking up last season when Stoudemire joined the team, but since the addition of Anthony at last year's trade deadline, the team has struggled.
They were seven games below .500 when D'Antoni worked Jeremy Lin into the lineup when Anthony was out with an injury. The Knicks promptly went on a seven-game winning streak.
But recently, the team has suffered through a six-game losing streak as Lin has faded and Anthony has struggled to score.
"It's always the coach's fault. The coach always has to take full responsibility," said fan Peter LeMarca, 42, from Staten Island. "They're really taking a gamble doing it midseason, but they're trying to light a fire. They could have let him finish the season.
"There must have been a lot of chaos for something like this to happen midseason."
There were no changes to the lineup when the Knicks took the court against the Blazers.
"There's still a lot at stake here, and a lot needs to be done," Woodson said at the press conference. "It starts tonight."