Phil to Knicks: Personnel changes coming

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19
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Knicks president Phil Jackson and owner James Dolan addressed the Knicks after their final game on Wednesday, a Knicks player confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.

While Jackson commended the team for its effort and complimented coach Mike Woodson, he made it clear that there would be personnel changes this summer, the player said.

“He credited Woody," said the player. "But he also said that there’s going to be changes, some of us won’t be in this room next year.”

The player said Jackson told the Knicks that they owed a lot of gratitude to head coach Mike Woodson. The player also said Jackson indicated that the team needed to start “thinking differently” and thinking about “what we can do to contend” for a title.

Jackson and Dolan’s postgame speeches were first reported by the New York Daily News.

Dolan, who told staffers on the eve of the season that he felt the Knicks could contend for an NBA title, told the players on Wednesday that he was “disappointed by the season, that he had higher expectations,” the player said.

“He said we left the fans wanting more,” the player said.

The player said Dolan added the Knicks "have to start thinking about a championship and he told us that it starts [Thursday]. It was a great speech."

Woodson was in the room for the speech, according to the player. But his future with the Knicks is unclear.

While it is widely believed that the Knicks have already made the decision to move on from Woodson, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard on Friday that nothing will be announced this weekend.

Woodson's fate is likely to be announced early next week.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN’s Marc Stein that Woodson is "bracing" for the worst, especially after the Knicks conducted exit interviews with players Thursday without the coach present.

It is thought, however, that Woodson has not been told of his fate.

Regarding the offseason changes Jackson mentioned, the Knicks aren't expected to have much of an opportunity to re-shape the roster this summer.

Even if free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony signs with another team, the Knicks still will be over the salary cap thanks to the contracts for Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million in 2014-15), Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4 million) and Tyson Chandler ($14.6 million).

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Can Kerr handle the coaching grind?

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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Steve Kerr has never been a head coach before, so the New York Knicks would be taking a bit of a risk if they hired him to replace Mike Woodson.

One of Kerr’s ex-teammates wonders if Kerr will be up for the grind of coaching in the NBA.

"I know Steve Kerr well and his basketball IQ is really high. He knows everything about basketball. I am just concerned about his willingness to be a coach, travel, spend that time in the hotels, the locker rooms, the games. I don't know if he's ready to do that,” ex-Bulls forward Toni Kukoc said on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “If he's ready to do that I don't see any problem with Steve being a good basketball coach."

The Knicks haven’t made a decision on Woodson’s future yet. But if and when they let Woodson go, Kerr is believed to be the favorite to take over.

Kukoc, who won three titles with the Bulls, believes that Jackson will have success as an executive.

"I think that was his plan, he always wanted to get the role of a president. I think he had enough of being just a -- not 'just' a basketball coach -- but he had enough of being a coach. I think he's going to do a great job,” Kukoc said. “Obviously, his basketball knowledge is great. He has the idea how to put the team together, which pieces are missing right now. Obviously there's a lot of stuff that needs to be done in New York but if somebody's going to be ready to do it it is Phil."

Clock ticking on Woodson? Here’s the latest on the timetable for the Knicks’ coaching decision:

It’s widely believed that the New York Knicks have already made the decision to move on from coach Mike Woodson, but sources tell ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that nothing will be announced this weekend.

Woodson's fate is likely to be announced early next week, Broussard reports.

Some Knicks fans want to know: why the hold up?

Here are a few theories:

1. Knicks president Phil Jackson hasn’t entirely made up his mind yet and needs time to deliberate. Though, you’d think that Jackson has an idea of who he’d like to coach the team, since he took over in an official capacity more than a month ago and has been in negotiations since December.

2. The Knicks may be in no rush to let Woodson go because they are under no time restriction to hire a new head coach. If you’re talking about hard deadlines, obviously the Knicks would like to hire a coach before free agency begins on July 1. So they could wait at least two months before hiring a coach. Unless they buy a second-round pick, they don’t really NEED a coach in place before the draft because they have no pick. But the guess here is that they will move quickly and hire a head coach if and when they let Woodson go.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Momentum Is A Myth

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
6:32
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video

Tom Haberstroh reveals why the slumping Indiana Pacers are a sleeping giant.
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While it is widely believed that the New York Knicks have already made the decision to move on from coach Mike Woodson, sources tell ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that nothing will be announced this weekend.

Woodson's fate is likely to be announced early next week.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN that Woodson is "bracing" for the worst, especially after the Knicks conducted exit interviews with players Thursday without the coach present.

It is thought, however, that Woodson has not been told of his fate.

A league source told ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley that Woodson is not interested in having a face-to-face meeting with team president Phil Jackson until he gets further clarification on his status.

Jackson and Knicks owner James Dolan addressed the Knicks after their final game Wednesday, a Knicks player confirmed to ESPN New York on Friday night.

Jackson commended the team for its effort and complimented Woodson but made it clear there would be personnel changes this summer, the player said.

"He credited Woody," the player said. "But he also said that there's going to be changes, some of us won't be in this room next year."

The player said Jackson told the Knicks that they owed a lot of gratitude to Woodson. The player also said Jackson said the team needed to start "thinking differently" and thinking about "what we can do to contend" for a title.

Dolan, who told staffers on the eve of the season that he thought the Knicks could contend for an NBA title, told the players Wednesday that he was "disappointed by the season, that he had higher expectations," the player said.

"He said we left the fans wanting more," the player said.

The player said Dolan added that the Knicks "have to start thinking about a championship, and he told us that it starts [Thursday]. It was a great speech."


(Read full post)


Pacers Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesThe Pacers were lucky to hang onto the top seed. How long will they manage to last in the playoffs?

Let's start here: When did it really begin to fall apart for the Pacers?

That's question No. 1. As the NBA prepares itself for its annual entry into Season 2, there are questions that are always left unanswered. In the case of the Indiana Pacers -- who have now generated more unanswered questions than any playoff team in the NBA -- there are so many questions it is almost impossible to know where to begin. What caused the Pacers' spiral? What effect will it have on them once the playoffs begin? Can they recover?

It's not at all as if the Pacers are alone. Far from it. Every team has lingering and irritating questions that they are distancing themselves from or in search of solving. Most won't. The attempt here is not to so much answer these questions as much as it is to acknowledge their presence. (It's become well known over the years that once the playoffs begin a whole new set of unanswered questions will surface.)

And it's usually the team that has separated itself from or escaped all unanswered questions as the team left standing in the end.


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Source: Mike Woodson wants clarity

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson is not interested in having a face-to-face meeting with team president Phil Jackson until he gets further clarification on his status, a league source said.

"He just wants to know one way or the other," the source said.

The Knicks' subpar performance this season has led to widespread speculation about Woodson's future with the team.

On Wednesday, the coach said he'd like a resolution on whether he will return next season as soon as possible.

"I think it's been enough said about my job all year with you guys," he said. "Hopefully, soon I'll know my destination in terms of where I'm going to be."

Earlier Friday on "SportsCenter," ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said Woodson would prefer that Jackson reach out to his agent if he's going to fire him rather than having a face-to-face meeting to inform him that he's being let go.

The New York Daily News reported Thursday night that Jackson and Woodson will talk on the phone Friday to plan a meeting or work out the terms of Woodson's departure. The paper also reported that Woodson informed the Knicks recently that he doesn't see a reason to meet formally if he's going to be fired.

Woodson has coached the Knicks for the past two seasons after taking over on an interim basis in 2011 following Mike D'Antoni's resignation. He guided the Knicks to a 54-win regular season and a division title in 2012-13. The Knicks also won a playoff series for the first time in 13 seasons under Woodson's stewardship.


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Pau Gasol interested in Knicks?

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
1:41
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Is Pau Gasol coming to the Garden?

The Laker center told Yahoo! Sports that he’d be willing to listen if Knicks president Phil Jackson wants to talk to him about coming to New York.

"I'm happy for him and the position that he got," Gasol said, according to Yahoo!. "I'm always going to be a big fan and a friend. I would listen."

Gasol and Jackson have history. The former All-Star big man won two NBA titles under Jackson.

He will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on July 1.

And, as ESPNLA’s Dave McMenamin notes, “the Lakers currently employing a coach whose style doesn't suit [Gasol's] game. [With] the team in the middle of a rebuild, the big man doesn't know how much he wants to remain a Laker.”

Gasol said the following to reporters in Los Angeles on Thursday:

"I'm going to listen closely to what the Lakers will have to offer and say about the team's situation and position at the time. We know what it is today, but we don't know what it is going to be July 1. See how the draft is going to play out, who they are going to end up drafting. Things like that that can have an impact or an effect on the structure of the team."

Jackson probably won't have much financial flexibility this summer. Even if the Knicks don’t re-sign Carmelo Anthony, they figure to be over the salary cap thanks to contracts for Amar’e Stoudemire ($23.4 million in 2014-15), Tyson Chandler ($14.6 million) and Andrea Bargnani ($11.5 million).

If the Knicks are over the salary cap, they’d have veteran’s minimum contracts to offer free agents. They may also have the non-tax payer mid-level salary exception. That exception allows teams to sign any free agent to a deal with a starting salary of up to $5.3 million.

It should be noted that Jackson has already shown that he’s interested in bringing former players to the Knicks. His first personnel move was to add Lamar Odom to a two-year contract with an unguaranteed second year.

Question: Do you think the Knicks should bring in Pau Gasol?


You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Steve Kerr to the Knicks? Stay tuned

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
12:47
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For weeks now, the consistent word in league circles has been that Steve Kerr will be Phil Jackson’s top coach if and when he decides to fire Mike Woodson.

Nothing’s changed on that front.

The general feeling is that Jackson will fire Woodson soon and begin his coaching search in earnest.

A few new details emerged on the Kerr front Friday.

A source close to Kerr said he expects to get an offer for the job and that he will accept it, the New York Post reported.

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Kerr has previously expressed an interest in coaching. He currently serves as an analyst for Turner Sports.

So Kerr will have to decide whether he wants to leave the comfort of the broadcasting booth for the cauldron of coaching in New York.

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein has reported that the Knicks’ job, if Woodson is to be fired, is Kerr’s to take or decline.

Kerr has never coached before, but has served as GM of the Phoenix Suns.

He has an intimate knowledge of the triangle offense, something that is believed to be a prerequisite for the Knicks next coach.

Before the Knicks can start to talk to, they need to remedy the situation with Woodson.

Woodson has made it clear that he wants a resolution to the situation soon. Jackson may deliver a decision on Woodson by the end of the week. And then the Kerr speculation will begin in earnest.

Other candidates to consider when thinking about the Knicks’ vacancy are Denver’s Brian Shaw, Jackson himself, Mark Jackson and Kurt Rambis.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Knicks can win if Phil picks right coach

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
12:39
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One day after making a plea for his job and why he’s the right man to coach the Knicks, Mike Woodson wasn’t made available to talk about a failed season one last time on Thursday.

In fact, Amar’e Stoudemire said he hadn’t seen Woodson on Thursday at the team facility. Stoudemire sat down for an exit interview with Phil Jackson and Steve Mills and discussed what needed to change with the Knicks. But no Woodson.

Typically, head coaches talk to reporters and players on the last day of the season to explain what went right or wrong and what lies ahead for the team and what improvements need to be made.

Of course, how can Woodson talk about what the team needs to do moving forward when he might not be a part of the future plan? Woodson’s fate was likely sealed much earlier this season when the Knicks repeatedly couldn’t get out of their own way.

Woodson deserves some credit for the Knicks fighting at the end -- albeit too little too late -- to make one final playoff run. But it’s time for a change.

Jackson may not be able to do much in terms of seriously upgrading the roster this coming season due to the Knicks’ limited cap flexibility. But one difference-making move he can make is choosing the right head coach.

If the core of the Knicks’ roster remains the same -- provided Carmelo Anthony re-signs -- then the one game-changing move he can make between this awful season and next season is the coach.

Picking the right coach, one who can motivate this team with a fresh message, one who can make the type of adjustments that Anthony and Tyson Chandler wanted earlier in the season, one who can command the attention of veteran players could be the difference in the Knicks returning to the playoffs.

Jackson wants the Knicks to play system basketball -- in other words, triangle basketball. The Knicks already have the best coaching candidate available on the planet but Jackson says he’s not interested in a return to the bench.

There are plenty of guys from Jackson’s triangle tree who could do the job such as Steve Kerr, Brian Shaw (if he were to become free), Kurt Rambis, Derek Fisher, Jim Cleamons, Bill Cartwright and Frank Hamblen among others.

Kerr and Fisher have yet to coach. But look at how Jason Kidd is doing without prior NBA coaching experience and he’s been doing it without a Phil Jackson to guide him along as an executive.

If Kerr were to be selected by Jackson to coach the Knicks, he would have Jackson’s full support and wisdom. Jackson would do everything in his power to make sure Kerr succeeds.

Core players like Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler can’t talk enough about their respect for Jackson. So they should in turn respect whomever Jackson hand picks to install the identity he wants for the team.

The new Jackson disciple in charge also could be inheriting a situation that might not be as bleak as some think. If Jackson re-signs Melo, the new coach will have a top-10 player who averaged 27.4 points and 8.1 rebounds this season.

That coach also could also take over a roster with presumably three key players in contract years. Stoudemire, Chandler and Andrea Bargnani all will be motivated to earn a new pay day even if it’s elsewhere.

If Jackson adds a few more veterans to replace the leadership they lost from the 54-win team a season ago, the Knicks could easily be a playoff team again.

When you look back on this debacle of a season, the Knicks missed the postseason by two games to Atlanta. There are a plethora of reasons why the Knicks didn’t make the playoffs. One of them is coaching.

For whatever reason, there were times when Woodson was unable to motivate his team to play better. Heck, there were times when he couldn’t inspire them to show up for a matinee tipoff at the Garden.

Stoudemire said players didn’t always buy into Woodson’s coaching and said next season the remaining players need to be more professional about accepting the coach’s game plan.

“Coach Woodson put together a game plan on both ends of the basketball court,” Stoudemire said. “And there were times that we didn’t totally buy into it.”

Chandler intimated the Knicks have bigger changes to make.

“I think we all have to be on the same page,” Chandler said on Thursday. “I think that’s the biggest key. A winning culture. Got to establish a winning culture, if not, you allow history to repeat itself.”

That’s where Phil comes in. Jim Dolan is paying the Zen Master a fortune to lay down a winning foundation starting now.

A critical ingredient to a winning culture is the head coach. Hiring the right coach could seal the deal with Melo. And it could be the Knicks’ only way of truly improving the team for next season.
video

Knicks F Carmelo Anthony says he is done with rebuilding and wants to win a championship.

Opening Tip: Woody's worst mistake?

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
9:00
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Mike Woodson’s future is unclear with the Knicks. Most expect president Phil Jackson to bring in a new coach for the 2014-15 season. The Knicks underachieved greatly under Woodson this season. Coming off a 54-win season, New York won just 37 games this year and finished in ninth place, missing the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

There were plenty of reasons for the Knicks’ struggles: injuries, poor performances by Carmelo Anthony's supporting cast and awful late-game execution really hurt the Knicks.

But a few decisions by Woodson also set them back.

Below, we take a look at three crucial mistakes Woodson made this season:

1. Too little, too late: The Knicks won 16 of their final 21 games and looked for a time like a playoff team. But they fell short, unable to crawl out of the 21-40 hole they dug themselves in. Part of their late-season surge can be attributed to Woodson deciding to insert Amar'e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith into the starting lineup.

Stoudemire played extremely well in the starting lineup, averaging nearly 17 points per game on 57 percent shooting. The starting five didn’t exactly dominate on a nightly basis. They were outscored by 2 1/2 points per 100 possessions over the Knicks’ final 21 games. But moving Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni to the bench improved the Knicks’ other lineups.

The lineup of Raymond Felton, Carmelo Anthony, Smith, Shumpert and Tyson Chandler outscored teams by 27.5 points per 100 possessions. This was the Knicks’ second-most used lineup during the final 21 games.

The lineup of Shumpert, Prigioni, Smith, Chandler and Anthony outscored teams by 18 points per 100 possessions. Clearly, Woodson’s lineup decisions in the final 21 games contributed to their success. It’s fair to wonder why Woodson didn’t insert Smith and Stoudemire into the starting five sooner.

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2. Sticking with Bargnani: Part of Woodson’s lineup issues stemmed from his insistence on playing Andrea Bargnani in the rotation. Bargnani was the Knicks’ biggest offseason addition. So perhaps Woodson had a directive from management to play Bargnani. Either way, Bargnani’s presence really hurt the Knicks.

The Knicks were 7.8 points per 100 possessions better when Bargnani was on the bench compared to when he was on the floor.

He never developed into the sidekick for Anthony, like the Knicks’ hoped.

Overall, the Knicks were 7.9 points per 100 possessions better with Bargnani on the bench than when he was on the floor.

The Knicks were 7.4 points per 100 possessions better when Anthony was on the floor without Bargnani than when Anthony and Bargnani shared the floor.

3. Defense rests: Woodson is known as a defensive coach, but he couldn’t get this year’s team to defend well on a consistent basis. New York ranked 24th in points allowed per 100 possessions. They ranked 19th in opponent’s field-goal percentage.

Woodson was criticized for asking his team to switch on pick-and-rolls this season. The strategy really seemed to hurt the Knicks. They ranked last in the NBA in defending the ball handler and screener on pick-and-rolls. According to 82games.com, Knicks point guards were outscored by 4.1 points per 48 minutes and shooting guards were outscored by 5.6 points per game.

The good: Woodson should be commended for keeping the Knicks engaged throughout the season. The Knicks never seemed to give up on Woodson. Need evidence? Look no further than their 16-5 mark to end the season.

Woodson also kept Anthony engaged. Anthony talked glowingly about Woodson on Thursday. Anthony had two of his finest seasons as a pro under Woodson. So give Woodson credit for that.

Up now: Carmelo Anthony says he wants to return to New York, but he also wants to win.

Tyson Chandler says the Knicks need to establish a winning culture.

Anthony backed Woodson on Thursday, calling him a father figure.

What’s next: An offseason that will be centered around Anthony’s free agency and, possibly, a coaching search.

Question: What do you think Mike Woodson's biggest mistake was this season?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Tyson: Knicks need a 'culture' change

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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Tyson Chandler has some interesting theories on why the Knicks struggled this season.

One is that they lack a winning culture.

“What has to be different [next season]? I think we all have to be on the same page. I think that’s the biggest key. A winning culture. Got to establish a winning culture, if not, you allow history to repeat itself,” Chandler said after exit interviews on Thursday.

Those words could be construed as a criticism of coach Mike Woodson.

Chandler believes there was a "disconnect" at times between players and coaches during the Knicks' 37-45 season.

"I think there was probably was some disconnect, probably some misunderstanding," Chandler said. "A lot of that happens throughout the course of the season. I think the key is when you’re able to start off right -- normally an NBA season is long and you have your bumps in the road -- but then you’re able to come back to what brought you success. And we never got to that point. We found ourselves behind the eight ball, and then late in the season you’re kind of just scrambling and that’s not a position you want to be in."

Chandler also thinks there need to be changes on both sides of the ball.

"We have to alter a lot of stuff, um offensively and defensively to be quite honest," Chandler said. "If you don’t, like I said, you allow history to repeat itself. So I expect a lot of changes and I expect for us to have a culture and an identity with what we want to establish, night in and night out next year."

Amar'e Stoudemire added that the Knicks lacked professionalism this season.

Asked if the Knicks could bring back Woodson if the players were not on the same page with the coach, Stoudemire delivered an indictment of his teammates.

"You got to have pros. Pros are the guys who actually focus in on becoming a better basketball player," Stoudemire said. "Who are constant about their health, constant about training, and improving and studying the game of basketball."

There has been speculation surrounding Woodson's job status for most of the season. Players said president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills conducted interviews and Woodson was not involved. That's a bad sign for the coach's future. Head coaches are normally involved in exit interviews.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Carmelo puts the ball in Phil's court

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
7:22
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[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsCarmelo Anthony wants to stay but doesn't have time to rebuild. The clock's ticking, Phil Jackson.

Phil Jackson loves the passing game so much that Carmelo Anthony figured he should throw him the ball Thursday, if only to put it squarely in his court. On arrival in New York, Jackson had challenged Anthony to elevate his game.

Anthony just challenged Jackson to do the same.

Back in the day, Patrick Ewing tried and failed to convince an arbitrator to make him a free agent, and tried and failed to persuade his new coach, Pat Riley, to trade him to a team that would give him a better shot at a championship before his prime expired. Riley eventually sold Ewing on the vision of a parade in the Canyon of Heroes, and then surrounded him with a cast of grinders and overachievers and damn near pulled it off.

Only those Knicks didn't pull it off, and Ewing retired with no ring and plenty of regrets. "I would have loved to have played with another bona fide superstar," he told me last year before acknowledging the merits of the good-but-not-great sidekicks who did what they could, like Charles Oakley and John Starks.

"But they still weren't Carmelo Anthony," Ewing sighed.


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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 9.6
AssistsR. Felton 5.6
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2

NEW YORK CALENDAR