COMMENTARY | Carmelo Anthony is playing for a contract in 2013-14, and that has some New York Knicks fans concerned about whether or not he will return.
The same cannot be said for Mike Woodson, who won't need to coach for his next paycheck as his 2014-15 option was picked up by the team the day before training camp began.
The move comes following the Knicks' most successful season in over a decade, including their first playoff series win in 13 long, agonizing years.
Woodson followed up his interim 18-6 record with a loss to the eventual champion Miami Heat. Last season, the Knicks were seeded second in the Eastern Conference after posting a 54-28 mark in the regular season. The year ended on a negative note as the Knicks anticlimactically lost to the Indiana Pacers in six games in the conference semifinals.
The close to 2012-13 was disappointing and most definitely not the ultimate goal, but it was enough for Woodson to be guaranteed beyond this season by new team president and general manager Steve Mills.
Mills is a former executive at Madison Square Garden who stepped into Glen Grunwald's position days before picking up Woodson's option. The move was a bit puzzling being that Grunwald had a successful overall tenure at the position, considering the financial situation he was thrust into. But Grunwald will remain with the team and Mills is a respected basketball executive.
The first order of business for the returning Mills was to lock up his coach past this season. This was the right move for the Knickerbockers without a doubt, who didn't need anymore questions surrounding expiring contracts. In fact, there are a few reasons why it was smart to bring back the coach.
The first thing is not having your coach looking over his shoulder for the entire season. When a new contract is at stake, a coach can try to do too much, as a player would, knowing free agency is on the way. Woodson can feel comfortable this season knowing he will be back in New York -- not looking for another deal. Anything can happen and coaches are never really safe, but it is a vote of confidence in the head coach.
Woodson brought stability, and especially some defensive intensity, to a team that was drowning with cinder blocks attached to its feet under Mike D'Antoni. The last few games under the current Lakers coach were unbearable and the team stepped up its game for the interim coach. New York finished the season strong before competing near the top of the conference for the duration of the following season.
Woodson's 72-34 regular-season record is an impressive one, and it's obviously safe to say he's the best coach the team has had since Jeff Van Gundy. Woodson also finished third in NBA Coach of the Year balloting this year behind only George Karl and Erik Spoelstra.
One of, if not the most important thing when looking at coaches is their relationship with players. Those who do not necessarily like Woodson should remember that he has the complete backing of Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler and the team as far as we know. Most important, the biggest ingredients in the Knicks' recipe for success want to be led by Woodson and we see what he has done with J.R. Smith.
Smith attributes his growing up and becoming more of a man professionally and personally to Woodson, who has been on his back since the very beginning. Say what you will about J.R.'s playoff performance, but, overall, he has been a better player and more successful under Woodson than he had been previously.
The Knicks play in a city where the pressure mounts to a point that not everybody can handle. All in all, it is hard to discredit Mike Woodson for what he has done with this team so far. The Knicks likely aren't winning any championships in the very near future, which is the ultimate goal, but Woody has been a huge part of turning the tide after more than a decade of futility.
Questions about Woodson's coaching came about during the playoffs last year, when he changed the size of the Knicks' lineup to match with the very big Indiana Pacers. To that point, New York had played small, essentially with two point guards in the game. The plan backfired as the game and series did not go well for the Knicks, but this is another year. I wouldn't even blame him for New York losing the series. It isn't easy to coach your team to crucial wins when two of your three best players don't show up to play.
A team filled with familiar faces, but some new ones, also attempted to hold on to the division it only recently was able to take from Boston. The Knicks desperately want to win the Atlantic again, not allowing Brooklyn to bypass them so they can get a home playoff series and try to make a run.
Mike Woodson is one of the better coaches in the NBA right now and no matter your feeling toward the guy, he has been successful. He's won 68 percent of his games as the Knicks' coach, and at this point has the confidence of his team and front office. He even looks like a cooler version of Mr. Potato Head out there. More important, his players love playing for him and he is the best man for the job in New York right now.
Brian Sausa is a Queens, New York native that also covers the New York Jets for Yahoo and previously covered a variety of NY area teams for New York Sports World. Intern at UAlbany Sports Information Dept. Twitter @BrianSausa.
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