Despite the Knicks 5-14 record and a 41-point loss to the rival Boston Celtics on Sunday, Mike Woodson insists he’s still the right man to coach the team.
“For me, it has kind of been a work in progress,” Woodson said Monday at practice. “I think I am up for the task.”
Amazingly, the Knicks are only 3 1/2 games back of the first-place Celtics despite their record. They will get Tyson Chandler back sometime relatively soon, and that has Woodson optimistic going forward.
“When Tyson gets back, then Tyson will go into the starting role and Kenyon [Martin] will anchor the second team,” Woodson said. “I am desperately trying to get to those nine to 10 guys if I can.”
If the blowout loss to the Celtics had been the Knicks’ 10th straight loss following their recent nine-game skid, it might well have been Woodson’s last as coach.
Despite coming after two wins by a combined 78 points, the Celtics loss underscored the vast differences between the two franchises going forward.
Boston has a young, energetic coach in Brad Stevens who got Butler — Butler! — to two Finals Fours and now has a Rajon Rondo-less Celtics team in first place.
Despite lacking superstar talent, the Celtics moved the ball on Sunday and got lots of good looks, while the Knicks reverted to a stagnant offense focusing on iso-Melo. The two teams meet again Friday in Boston.
Unlike the Knicks, who have no first-round draft pick in the loaded 2014 Draft, the Celtics have two first-round picks. They actually have nine first-round picks over the next five years.
On top of that, the Celtics have Rondo as a major trade chip should they decide to deal him before his contract expires following the 2014-15 season.
Anthony is trying to recruit Rondo to come to New York, but it’s a legitimate question at this point as to which franchise — New York or Boston — is closer to a title.
Still, despite the two teams seemingly going in opposite directions, Woodson is focusing on the positive.
“Like I mentioned three weeks ago, nobody is running away with this division,” Woodson said. “We still got an opportunity to move up and win the Atlantic. It’s still wide open, I think. I just got to get our players believing and playing at a high level.”
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.