“S***, I can’t worry about Jason [Kidd], I’ve got to worry about the New York Knicks.”
-Mike Woodson, as quoted by SNY’s Adam Zagoria
-Mike Woodson, as quoted by SNY’s Adam Zagoria
Jeff Van Gundy is not plotting a comeback, gunning for the Knicks coaching job or even been contacted about the position, he told Mike Lupica on ESPN New York Radio.
On the rumor of him taking over as Knicks coach if/when Mike Woodson is canned: “You’re drawn into commenting on a rumor that there’s no basis of fact.”
On his plotting: “Some people think I’m behind the scenes plotting my return and Mike’s demise? I mean, my goodness.”
On the team’s current issues: “This isn’t a coaching issue … this is a roster issue.”
More on the Knicks problems: “The last problem Knicks have — the very last problem — is a coaching issue.”
Ben KopelmanThursday night, the Knicks will head east into Brooklyn to face the crosstown rival Nets. Last year, both teams brought playoff-like intensity to their regular season match-ups, igniting the beginning of what seemed destined to be a long, hotly-contested rivalry between top teams. Tomorrow? Not so much. Instead of that same high octane, out-for-blood vibe, we are set to watch a game with the inter-city intensity of a Jets-Giants preseason game.
Two teams crushed by the weight of preseason expectations, stumbling into the Barclays Center with a laundry list of issues. No Tyson Chandler, no Paul Pierce, a lost J.R. Smith and a hobbled Deron Williams. 5-13 v. 3-13. It’s Knicks, Nets, next on TNT.
But of all the story lines to watch, none sticks out more than the fate of Mike Woodson. A loss tomorrow night could — and truly should — end his tenure as the Knicks’ head coach.
Forget the fact that the loss would be the team’s tenth in a row. Ignore the embarrassment of falling to the Nets when they are playing about as poorly as anybody in the league. Dismiss the sting of losing to Paul Pierce when he is not even in uniform. If Woodson fails to draw up a script that exposes the Nets’ weaknesses — something 13 other coaches have done already this season — he does not deserve his job.
Rumors that a blowout loss could lead to Woodson’s demise, and that players are worried about their coaches job security make sense, but they miss the point. Woodson should not be let go because of one loss, or even one
really long and really, really sad losing streak. Another loss on Thursday night is cause for a coaching casualty because it would prove, for the ninth time in ten games, that Woodson simply cannot concoct a winning game plan.
No, he did not construct the team on his own, and of course, there is blame to go around. But Woodson’s chief concern is creating and preparing his team to execute an in-game concept, offensively and defensively, to beat the next opponent. Save for losses to the Bulls and Pacers, Woodson has completely failed to do that this season.
Even looking to the team’s three wins, one can see that talent alone won out in at least two, with the Knicks beating the Bucks (horrible), the Bobcats (pretty bad) and the Hawks (a first-round playoff loser, but fine, I’ll give him one). The team’s record is not solely Woodson’s fault, but that in no way provides him a pass for not doing his job.
Woodson surely knows more about basketball than I. But whatever Xs and Os he is practicing and implementing into games are not working. The team’s offensive plays seldom result in open looks; the defensive schemes fail to lead to turnovers or stops.
While Mike D’Antoni’s mid-season exit came about because he had lost the respect of his team, Woodson’s demise is about preparation and execution. For all his bad, nobody questioned MDA’s ability to draw up plays; yet for his part, Woodson does not seem to be drawing much of anything. Rather, Woodson is known as a player’s coach, a title which presumes that he gets the best out of his guys who are willing to go to battle on his orders.
The product on the floor suggests otherwise, but even giving Woodson the benefit of that doubt, the team is losing. If this is JR playing his heart out for his coach, fine, so be it, but it is not working. Woodson has to transition into a clipboard coach and he is either resisting or failing, but either way, the Knicks are suffering.
A coach needs both this ying and yang to run a successful unit. Optimism aside, half a glass is simply not enough.
The current losing streak is what it is. There is no getting back those nine games, there is only looking forward to the tenth. But if Woodson again fails to execute a winning game plan tomorrow night, against a beat up and bad Nets team, he deserves to be shown the door.
Melo and Co. (mostly Co., really) need to step up and win one for the skipper, because while a loss in Brooklyn would be the Knicks’ 14th, it may well be Woodson’s last.
Harris DeckerOver the last few days, we’ve had everything from a “Should Mike Woodson be fired?” poll, to a discussion about why trading Carmelo Anthony is not the answer.
Now, I’m ready to back up that claim with a little case study. Let’s pretend that Anthony is the problem and we’re replacing him with another superstar right now. Free of all salary cap restrictions, but on the basis that we are taking this team and replacing Anthony, here’s what it could look like.
Kevin Durant: What did we learn in the playoffs last year when Russell Westbrook was injured? Durant can still score. But Westbrook and Durant can win. If Durant was on the Knicks, who would he look like? Melo. The two guys are separated by percentage points in almost every offensive category and neither can be considered a plus defender.
Paul George: George is the closest thing we could have to a second coming of LeBron James. He’s a great defender and is turning into an elite scorer right in front of our eyes. But, guess what George has in Indiana? Probably the best supporting cast in the NBA. He has a dominant center in Roy Hibbert, a tough as nails power forward in David West and a back court comprised of George Hill, C.J. Watson and Lance Stephenson. Not too shabby.
Kevin Love: The guy everyone is fawning over in Knicks-land, Love is another guy who is highly skilled, but like Anthony, has never won a thing. In fact, if there was an NBA superstar out there with an even less impressive track record from a wins/loss perspective, it would have to be Love. In five full NBA seasons, the Love-led Timberwolves have made the playoffs exactly zero times.
Stephen Curry: Curry currently stands in a league of his own. He is the only player in the NBA to be both a top-10 scorer and a top-10 assist man. Curry is in his fifth season with the Golden State Warriors, surrounded by guys like Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut. He’s a rare breed, but still wouldn’t make the Knicks great. He’d be a one-man-show, if J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were as ineffective as they’ve been with Anthony. The case could be made that he’d make the entire team better, but still, with only Curry as the superstar, they wouldn’t have the talent to win a championship.
LeBron James: James is probably the only superstar capable of carrying a team completely on his shoulders. Still, he’s proved in Miami that it takes more than just him to win it all. He didn’t hit the late-game three that saved them against the Spurs, that was Ray Allen. Instead, James is a player that makes everyone around him better. With James, this Knicks team would win a championship.
Now, I ask you, if Anthony is the problem, what is the solution? I don’t believe that, hypothetically, anyone not named LeBron makes the 2013-14 Knicks a winner. The issue is with the pieces around the superstar. Every superstar has help, and currently, it’s Anthony trying to do everything himself. He is second in scoring with 26.3 PPG and has turned himself into a top-15 rebounder in Tyson Chandler’s absence. He also leads the league in minutes per game, averaging 40.4.
GEICO SportsNite has reaction from Knicks practice as they prepare to take on the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.
-George Karl on coaching in New York (and under James Dolan), via NYDN
Has Iman Shumpert’s trade value been impacted by Mike Woodson’s coaching?
Some seem to think so, via ESPN New York:
According to league sources with knowledge of the team’s talks with potential trade partners, president/GM Steve Mills’ management team has also cited Mike Woodson’s coaching as one reason for Shumpert’s poor play.
“They’re saying that Shumpert’s a better player [than he's shown] but Woodson isn’t using him right,” one league source said.
Shumpert has been the focus of trade rumors since the season began. He’s been shopped repeatedly, according to media reports.
Harris DeckerI completely buy this idea. Iman Shumpert is a player in the digital age. No matter what he says, he hears the rumors swirling. He understands that his time in New York might be coming to an end and it’s clearly effecting him. Woodson’s use of Shumpert is tough to say. When the team is playing this badly, it’s hard to say he’s using anyone properly. Still, it seems like Shumpert is off the court in key situations in more situations than you’d like to see.
Sam SpiegelmanMore could than bragging rights may be at stake Thursday night when the Knicks take on the Nets. … a lot more.
According to the New York Post, a blowout loss to the Nets — the Knicks’ 10th consecutive loss — could cost Mike Woodson his job.
The report states Knicks owner James Dolan is “obsessed” with the Brooklyn Nets franchise, and fallng to their crosstown rival could “trigger changes.”
On Nov. 19, Dolan gave a vote of confidence to Woodson. At the time, however, New York was 3-7. Since, the team has dropped six in a row to fall to 3-13. Brooklyn, meanwhile, is 4-15 and 1.5 games ahead of New York in the Atlantic Division.
Adding more fuel to the fire, the Post suggests Woodson’s placement would be former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, who is currently an analyst for ESPN. The report states Van Gundy may be option, but it is more likely he would be hired in the offseason and the team would have to find an interim coach for the remainder of the 2013-14 season.
Knicks president Steve Mills worked with Van Gundy for more than two seasons in Mills’ stint as vice president of franchise operations. The Post speculated the hiring of Van Gundy may result in the hiring of Patrick Ewing, who was an assistant under Van Gundy in Orlando and currently serves in the same with the Charlotte Bobcats.
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Assistants Darrell Walker, Herb Williams and Jim Todd remained on the court working out players.
This is customary for a Knicks practice, but given the team’s present circumstances it seems fair to wonder whether it was a metaphor for what might transpire in the next few days.
If the 3-13 Knicks lose one or both games Thursday in Brooklyn and Friday at home against the Orlando Magic, will Woodson be fired?
“I mean, yeah, we’re worried about that,” Carmelo Anthony said. “But then again, we’ve got to worry about playing basketball, man.”
The poll results are in and they aren’t very surprising: Knicks fans think Mike Woodson should be fired.
Harris DeckerThe 56.42% of fans that think he should be fired because he deserves to be fired make up the majority while the remaining 43.58% are split among the other three options. The surprising thing, to me, is that so few people attribute Tyson Chandler’s injury to the reason he shouldn’t be fired. There is no way this Knicks team has just three wins if Chandler was healthy through all 16 games. The team has been horrible in his absence.
My vote is the second option, which netted 19.31% of the vote. I don’t think he deserves to be fired, but at this point, someone might just need take the fall. You can’t fire J.R. Smith. You can’t fire Raymond Felton. So, unless James Dolan is willing to sell the team (as he should be the fall man), Woodson is the only option.
All things considered, over 75% of fans believe that Woodson should be fired for some reason. That is an overwhelming number.