Just two weeks ago, James Dolan said in an interview that he has confidence in Mike Woodson to turn the New York Knicks’ season around. Dolan claimed Woodson is good at managing the players and also has their respect, which are two good qualities to maintain, even during a losing streak. Six losses later, though, it appears the water in Woodson’s pot is starting to get hot (did I get that metaphor right?).
The Knicks take on the equally disappointing Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, and according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the game could be a barometer for Woodson’s job safety. Dolan very much views the Knicks and Nets as equals and is obsessed with the Knicks’ brand imagine in comparison to the Nets. Losing to the Nets this Thursday would lengthen the Knicks’ losing streak to 10, putting them at a lowly 3-14, and it would be a nationally televised embarrassment to Dolan and the organization. From Berman’s report:
While Woodson will coach the Knicks when they play the Nets on Thursday, it is unclear how much longer Dolan will allow this losing streak to go on. It has reached nine straight defeats and the team’s mental instability has become an issue. Dolan is obsessed with the Brooklyn franchise and a blowout loss could trigger changes — whether via trade or a coaching move.
Both Berman and Frank Isola picked up on this idea, which probably gives it a bit more credence. Woodson’s option was picked up in the beginning of the year, and he’s signed with CAA, which has incredible power within the organization, but apparently a Thursday night showdown between two pathetic teams could put Woodson’s job on the line.
Berman’s article also goes on to discuss possible replacements. Berman also throws in this: “The Post has also learned that if Dolan eventually makes a move, old enemy and ex-Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy would not be ruled out as a future candidate….” This idea seems far-fetched given how things ended in the 2001-02 season when Van Gundy quit abruptly early in the season. He’s gone on to say he regrets how things ended, and when he calls games, it’s quite clear he still has some love for the Knicks as a franchise. However, for a long time he and Dolan weren’t on speaking terms, and after years of success from the broadcast table, why would Van Gundy want to leave his cozy seat for a reclamation project for a well-below .500 team?
Lionel Hollins’s name is also thrown into the mix, and he could be an interesting, perhaps more viable option. The article mentions, though, that Hollins is a bit of a traditionalist, and those Memphis teams employed big, slow, grinding lineups, which don’t exactly fit this Knicks’ roster. George Karl is another available name, but given his history with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Kenyon Martin, he might have absolutely no interest in touching this team.
In the end, the Knicks need more creative instruction. Whether that comes from Woodson or someone else, I don’t know. Woodson himself is a traditionalist, and it’s clearly an approach that just doesn’t suit this Knicks team. Last season — out of sheer circumstance, it seems — Woodson employed non-traditionalist schemes like dual point guard lineups, small-ball lineups, and extreme floor-spacing. This year, he’s moved away from all of that, and the results have been disappointing. If Woodson is willing to revert back to last season’s strategies, I think he has a place on this Knicks team because they players genuinely do seem to like him.
However, if a different coach is needed to find the ways this roster best functions, that would be OK, too. Simply firing the coach won’t change all of this team’s problems, though, which is why a knee-jerk reaction must be avoided. It’s not in their nature, but Dolan and the Knicks need to take their time figuring out the course of action for the rest of the season.
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