Adam Zagoria, Team ReporterMike Woodson sounds like a man who knows his days are numbered.
He sounds like a man who sees the handwriting on the wall.
With Phil Jackson set to be introduced on Tuesday as the Knicks’ President of Basketball Operations, Woodson seems to understand that he won’t be coaching the team for the 2014-15 season, even if he will be paid for next season. Jackson has reportedly signed on for five years at $12 million per.
“When someone new comes in, he has his own thought process and philosophy in terms of how he feels and how the shape of the team should be,” a somber and reflective Woodson said of Jackson prior to the Bucks game Saturday. “Until he gets here you just have no idea what he’s thinking and which direction he wants to go.”
Woodson said his only interactions with Jackson were from coaching against him as a head coach and an assistant, and meeting him at a Knicks’ event honoring the 1973 championship team.
It is widely believed that Jackson will hire one of his own disciples who is familiar with the triangle offense to coach the Knicks, with Steve Kerr and Brian Shaw having been mentioned.
It’s also possible Jackson could hire a General Manager and oversee the team’s restructuring, which is expected to heat up beginning in 2015, when the Knicks will have salary-cap space and a first-round draft pick.
Steve Mills, the team’s current GM, has limited experience on the basketball side of things and also hasn’t spoken to the media since October. Neither Mills nor owner James Dolan has spoken to the media since the Jackson rumors began, and once again Woodson was left to talk about the future of the franchise.
“It’s basketball,” Woodson said. “They try to re-shape, they go through changes and this is no different. You bring in a great basketball mind into your organization and eventually it will be reshaped, so how and who and when, only time will tell.”
Woodson has 16 games remaining as the coach of the Knicks (26-40), who entered Saturday’s game 3 1/2 games back of Atlanta for the No. 8 seed in the East.
He said his main priority is trying to get the team into the playoffs, and doesn’t feel he needs to prove anything to Jackson or anyone else.
“I don’t think I need to prove anything as a coach, I’ve never felt that way,” he said. “I try to do my job the best I can do and if you’re going to judge me on 16 games, then that’s on you. I’ve tried to do the best I can do in terms of my every day approach to the game. We’ve had our ups and downs this year and I take full responsibility for that. But at the end of the day, we still have 16 games left, got a legitimate shot to make the playoffs and that’s where I’m pushing this team.”
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.