Insanity is defined as doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result. Once again, the Knicks got off to a slow start and Coach Mike Woodson, said “I don’t understand it.” Well if he doesn’t, who does? When looking at the Knicks roster, on paper, they don’t look all that bad. Actually, on paper, they look better than many rosters in the NBA. So what is the problem and where do we go from here?
My first area of concern is Coach Woodson and his stubbornness. Woodson is a good coach; he is just currently doing a bad job. The team lacks chemistry, energy, defense, and often appears disoriented on offense, so who is to blame?
First, I blame Glen Grunwald, and Donnie Walsh. Yes the great Donnie Walsh. These two men literally depleted our roster of youth, draft picks, and cap space for two players — Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. I miss the days of David Lee, Zach Randolph, Jamal Crawford, Danillo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Jordan Hill, Jeremy Lin and Timothy Mozgov. Please, let us not forget all the draft picks we gave away, which are like gold with the new CBA. We gave away all the above players and received no draft picks. Walsh and Grunwald left the house bare. The same Donnie, who would never draft a point guard, who passed by Brandon Jennings amongst others. For two years he had one plan, get LeBron. Phoenix knew Stoudemire could not go five years. Yet 100 million dollars later, we still have half the Amar’e we signed. Where was the Knicks medical staff then? That is when they should have put a limitation on Walsh and the amount of years Amar’e could seriously play.
Steve Mills needs to do the opposite and not panic. First, he needs to meet with Woodson and Shumpert, and yes, he needs to intervene. Woodson is destroying not only a young talent, but removing any trade value he may have left.
According to Matt Shetler’s report card from the Knicks’ loss last night:
Iman Shumpert (0 points, 0-3 shooting, 1 steal)
“Saying Shumpert was awful would be kind. He only got three shot attempts up because the ball doesn’t move but to not tally a point, rebound or assist in 23 minutes is inexcusable, especially when he looked disinterested most of the night. Top that off with a game-worst minus-22 on the night and this was one to forget for Shump. Grade: F”
On all of the above I have to agree with my fellow writer, co-editor Matt Shetler. However, wherever there is a symptom, there is a cause of the symptom. There is no flow to the offense, but it is not Shumpert’s nature to be selfish and force shots. He scores best when in the flow of the game. It is Woodson’s responsibility to work the player into the offense, not every player has Anthony’s ability to get his shot at will. Earlier in the year, Metta World Peace stated Shumpert was one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. So what happened between now and then?
Well, first off Woodson has him playing the three more than the two. He is a shooting guard, not primarily a small forward where Woodson likes to play him. Woodson has not shown him trust and he seems to be the target of Woodson’s wrath. A habit Woody probably picked up from Coach Bob Knight. Knight loved that someone to pick on every day at every practice. He loved abusing one player and making him an example for all around to smirk at. Now that Copeland is gone, Shump’s it. How often did I hear Copeland didn’t play because he plays no defense? I have one word for Coach on that: FELTON. He plays no defense, yet never gets the wrath of Woodson.
Steve Mills must step in and make the right changes. Fellow Knick fans, I promise you change is coming. Whether it be Woodson, Shumpert, Felton, or all of the above, change will take place if the Knicks don’t start winning soon. I have continually stated, I like Woodson, but he needs to step up, make changes, and lead this team. He is coddling the wrong players. You can’t have a double standard with players — it will not create harmony in the locker room.
Woodson, who has been around the league for many years, has never proven he can develop a young talent, which is why he looks to add veterans, past their prime, to his roster. This team has plenty of veterans — what they needs is fresh young talent like Portland, who are only a few years from being a doormat in the NBA. Amazing what a good point guard could do. With no draft picks this year, Mills needs to get on the phones and do some magic. No player but Anthony should be secure and if is not willing to sign an extension (like Kobe Bryant). Mills must explore every avenue to bring this team back to respectability.
Last night, once again, the Knicks were destroyed by the backcourt of Portland. Woodson needs to develop continuity in his backcourt. As it appears now, it is best to trade Shumpert. His mojo seems to have gone with his haircut. Remember this was the same player New York drafted ahead of Ken Faried from Denver, the same player they would like to swap for now. Steve Mills needs to be patient and find a good point guard. He probably must wait until after December 15th when most trade restrictions will be lifted. Until then, Woodson needs to start Pablo Prigioni, whose energy and leadership helped the Knicks to a 13-game winning streak at the end of last season, whose energy woke up a sliding team.
Next he needs to play Cole Aldrich 10 minutes per game. Let him block the middle, add some size and do some banging on the opposing centers. Robin Lopez wreaked havoc on the Knicks; a strong body against him may have slowed him down and changed the outcome. Sound ridiculous? Remember Jeremy Lin was the 15th man on the Knicks roster, barely made the team and was almost cut, till one day Coach D’Antoni out of desperation made a change. The rest is history. On that note has anyone seen Tourie Murry lately? The kid can play defense and may be the spark the Knicks need, the spark they don’t have.
Listen the Knicks are a flawed team that plays with no center and three backup point guards. I don’t blame the roster entirely on Woodson, just his utilization of the roster. The team needs to play better and Woodson needs to coach better. It starts with the backcourt. I would love to see a backcourt of Pablo and Shumpert with Murry coming in off the bench to add a defensive presence. Coach you have some good tools, it is not time to panic, but it is time to change.
Dr. Eric Kaplan is a best-selling author: www.fiveminutemotivator.com
Follow him on Twitter: @drekaplan.