COMMENTARY | New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson is on the hottest of seats.
This is news to nobody as Woodson has spent most of the season answering questions about his job security. With the Knicks' early-season struggles began the speculation that seething owner James Dolan was about to make a change, and it wasn't going to be a personnel change.
The situation in New York is one we see in the sports business often. When the going is good, the coach is great. When it's not going so well, the coach is to blame. That's just the nature of it, and Woody appears like a sitting duck-waiting for the business end to kick him out the door.
Winning masks everything, it's a known fact. Several of the issues that plague this underwhelming Knicks team are similar to ones that did the same last season. New York failed to move the ball at times and failed to play with defensive intensity and rotate accordingly. They switched often, although not as much this year, and few adjustments were made by Woodson. However, last season, many Knicks fans thought Woodson should be NBA Coach of the Year.
One of the most glaring differences in the Knicks this season is the lack of shot-making. This is a team that less than a year ago was one of the most prolific offensive teams in the NBA with a penchant for shooting and hitting three-pointers at an impressive rate. Fact is, a few more shots made and/or a few less on-court breakdowns and Woodson is guaranteed a job for the rest of the season at least.
The 2013-14 Knicks offense has revolved entirely around Carmelo Anthony scoring in droves while getting little support. There were five Knicks who averaged double-figures a season ago and with the exception of Melo, they've all been disappointing. J.R. Smith spent the first half of the season with his head anywhere but on basketball; Iman Shumpert still hasn't developed and offensive game; and, even when healthy, Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton aren't making nearly the impact they did a season ago.
This part of it isn't on Woody. He gave J.R. every opportunity to succeed and has coached basically the same way that won the Knicks 54 games and the Atlantic division for the first time in over a decade. Maybe part of the issue was Dolan letting go of his assistants, which is almost like prepping the coach for a departure sooner than later.
In this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately town, the things Woodson and last year's Knicks accomplished are either forgotten or diminished. Let me remind you, it was a huge deal to finally be relevant and considered a threat again. Like it or not, Woodson was a part of that.
Considering all this, one was originally under the impression Woodson earned the right to coach out the rest of the season. However, Woodson also has a ton to do with the failures of this team. The delusional press conferences where injuries are always the excuse and crooked stats are thrown out in his defense don't help either; those are just as frustrating as the games.
For some reason, Woodson has the Knicks switch on defense more than any other team in the NBA. It's become increasingly clear that the mismatches created are of much more detriment to the team than fighting through screens. Nobody wants to see Chandler trying to stay with a point guard or Felton play in the post on a center. It's caused countless baskets for the opposition.
The Knicks have just recently gone to the smaller lineup that won them a copious amount of games a year ago. Not even that can be attributed to Woody, as it was forced on by necessity. Injuries to just about all of New York's big men pushed Anthony back to the power forward position, the most advantageous spot for Melo in today's NBA. The lack of adjustments in an attempt to change recent failures is mind-boggling.
You mean to tell me that the coach never draws up a play during timeouts? Or replaces guys in the starting lineup who can't actually score? Because 19 first-quarter points against he Bucks should show you something isn't right there. Iman Shumpert can't get adjustments were fine while the Knicks were knocking off every team in the conference, but that's just no longer the case.
With there being too many Knickerbockers transgressions to name, we'll keep it simple. Woodson is steering the ship that has plummeted the Knicks to double-digits under .500. There's enough wrong with this team already but the coach has done nothing to help himself out or improve the situation for the team.
His offenses are fire-able, but there's no viable replacement. That maybe the only thing saving his job right now. Herb Williams isn't going to turn the Knicks around nor is another assistant coach. The firing would be aimless and the inmates would be running the asylum with playoff spots still within reach. The clock ticks loudly toward his departure, but speculation of what goes through Dolan's head is fruitless. We won't know until it happens.
What is known is that Woodson's days are numbered, fair or not. Between losing his assistants and the lack of room to upgrade personnel, Woodson was set up to fail by the front office from the start of the season. But that doesn't change the fact that Woodson failed in every aspect of coaching his team out of a slump. The Knicks are the perfect storm of bad play and bad coaching, seemingly coming to a head at this All-Star break.
This may not be entirely Woodson's fault; he guided the Knicks to this point. Even after the successes of last year, he couldn't save himself. Just like the Knicks regressed as a team, Woodson regressed as coach. And there's very little that can save him now.
Brian Sausa is a freelance journalist who contributes articles on the Jets and Knicks to Yahoo! Sports. Former intern in UAlbany Sports Information Dept and former contributor to New York Sports World, covering a variety of NY area teams. Twitter @BrianSausa.
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