The New York Knicks are off to their worst start in years, and Knicks fans are getting restless. It’s time for change. If coach Mike Woodson stays, then something has to change and quickly. With each loss, the pressure continues build on James Dolan, Steve Mills, and Woodson to find a quick solution to the Knicks’ current batch of problems. The New York Daily News reports that while Woodson isn’t on the hot seat at the moment, the front office is making demands on him to change his starting lineup and rotations.
What the Knicks have done to date is more than surprising — it is downright depressing. Obviously, Dolan knew there was a problem, which is why he fired Glen Grunwald. He should have done it earlier in the summer.
If Woodson can’t turn it around, he will be asked to resign, just like past coaches Lenny Wilkens and Mike D’Antoni. The only thing more surprising than the Knicks 3-6 record is their five straight home losses. The “Fire Woodson” chants echoed throughout Madison Square Garden the other night and they had to have gotten the attention of both Dolan and Mills.
Woodson needs to tinker with his lineup and listen to his players. Both Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire are not happy with their minutes, and the medical staff needs to stop interfering. This limitation of minutes and no back-to-back game philosophy hurts both the team and players. History has taught us you can’t fully prevent injuries. Chris Berman of the NY Post reported in regard to the minute restrictions, “The players hate it: Time for Knicks medical staff to remove minutes restrictions on Stoudemire-Martin.” The medical staff is there to treat players, not coach them. This concept of minute restrictions is based on speculation with no objective proof behind their theory.
Next, if Amare is up to it, play him for extended minutes. See what the $20 million investment can bring to the team. Stoudemire wants to play — let him. He is a warrior and takes care of his body. The restriction is making him the laughing stock of the NBA. When in pain, rest him. When he is feeling good, let him work himself into game shape. It’s pretty simple, really.
Chris Berman reported,
“It’s hard for myself, hard for him to coach,’’ Stoudemire said Saturday. “By the time you get up and down and get adjusted to the speed of the game, it’s already three minutes, and then in two minutes you’re out. And if you miss a shot, it feels the world is collapsing on you because you’re expected to do so much and somewhat win the game in five minutes.
The Knicks clearly need adjustments to the starting lineup. Try starting Beno Udrih and Iman Shumpert in the backcourt, with Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin in the frontcourt. Iman Shumpert is quietly having a good year and Woodson needs to play him and show him the respect he deserves. Woodson needs to stop coddling J.R. Smith and bring him off the bench. Woodson’s doghouse is where Smith should be, not Shumpert. Shumpert has the second-best on vs. off-court differential of anyone on the Knicks, and has been the one player to play well on both ends of the floor. So shaming him to the bench while promoting the the erratic and often troubled makes Smith makes no sense.
Bringing Raymond Felton off the bench may be the wake up call he needs, too. Woodson continually plays Felton and never complains about his atrocious defense. Felton should have to earn his minutes and get over his current slump, which may be affected by a leg injury.
Next, I would move Martin to the starting lineup. Last season when Tyson Chandler went down, Martin stepped up. By putting Martin in the starting lineup, it gives the Knicks’ frontcourt a more traditional look. According to recent statistics, the Martin-Bargnani-Anthony front court has only played 10 minutes together. But during those minutes the Knicks were a plus nine. Martin will block shots and clog the middle, while adding toughness to the Knicks front line.
Woodson needs to shake this team up and soon. He needs to penalize the make believers, not the achievers.