After the most demoralizing loss of the season, it is time to once again ask the question: Is Mike Woodson long for this team?
A report in The Record suggests Woodson could be gone by the February 20th trade deadline and lays out just how bad the loss in Milwaukee was:
Monday’s 101-98 loss was a particularly brutal one, a lifeless effort against a team that had lost 15 of 16 games, was playing without two of its best players, lost two others to fouls and injury in the fourth quarter, and still held on.
Ben KopelmanShow me a more pathetic loss in the entire league this season and I’ll back away from the ledge.
As I wrote a couple months ago, the question is not whether the team’s record is a reflection of it’s coach. Rather, it is whether Woodson has wielded his power to the best of his abilities. Aside from the obvious blemish that is the Knicks’ record, one has to ask whether Woodson still has the respect of his team, the ability to lead them.
Over the last few weeks, the needle is slowly but surely leaning toward NO. Look no further than Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, two of the more upbeat and professional guys on the team, publicly questioning Woodson’s decisions. A players’ coach who has a laundry list of disgruntled players? Never an encouraging combination.
Is Woodson to blame for the Knicks’ 10th place standing? Not entirely, no, of course not. If J.R. Smith had made one of his first 13,458 shots to open the season, the team tallies a few extra W’s and Woodson has more wiggle room. If Tyson doesn’t go down early on and miss so many games the team does not go on an extended losing streak and the uneven play doesn’t look as bad.
But those are the bumps along every season’s road. Every coach is forced to reshuffle the deck and work with what he has, no matter what he may have assumed he would have. If you planned to be up by 15 at halftime against, say, the worst team in the NBA, but instead find yourself down seven, you go into the locker room and change things up: your rotations, defensive scheming, offensive play calling, something. You don’t just presume that a pep talk and some menacing looks will do the trick.
Woodson knows basketball, I am not questioning that, but the strategy employed on the court sure looks like the stuff the team was running back in November. The team was losing then, if I recall correctly. Guess what — they’re still losing now.
In games and during the season as a whole, Woodson has failed to adjust, failed to think on his feet and failed to come through when the team has needed him most. If he was a player we’d be calling for him to get benched or traded. For a coach, the options are binary: either he stays, or he goes.
His fate is not set in stone, and a winning streak is always a solid cure, but in freezing cold New York, Woodson has the hottest seat in town.
You can follow Ben on Twitter @bkop2000