New York Knicks: Mike Woodson

Woodson: I want to get back into coaching

May, 4, 2014
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Since he was let go as coach of the New York Knicks, Mike Woodson has been working as an analyst for NBA TV and putting together some of the final details for his Coach Woodson Invitational, a three-day golf outing in Las Vegas to benefit the Nations of Coaches program.

But he has also been focused on something else.

“Keeping my eyes on coaching,” Woodson said during a phone interview to promote his golf tournament. “I want to get back into coaching. So that’s my next move. So we’ll see what happens. … That’s a big goal. That’s what I’m going to push to do, absolutely.”

[+] EnlargeMike Woodson
AP Photo/Morry GashWill we see Mike Woodson on the sideline next season? The ex-Knicks coach hopes so.
Woodson did not delve into specifics when talking about his next move. He also politely declined to talk about the Knicks. Instead, he is currently focused on his golf tournament, which is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas during the NBA’s Summer League from July 20-22. The invitational is co-hosted by professional golfer Seema Sadekar and will be played at the Southern Highlands Golf Club.

Golf has been a big part of Woodson’s life for most of his NBA career. In Houston, he started a foundation to teach the game to children called “Woody’s Club.”

This season, Woodson took a mini break from the Knicks’ season on March 24th -- his 56th birthday -- and played Augusta National, which is the site of the Masters.

Woodson shot an 88 and pared the first hole.

“I played pretty good that day,” the coach said.

Woodson hopes to use his tournament this summer as a way to raise money for the coaches foundation and to share ideas among coaches.

“I want the game to grow and I want players to get better,” the coach said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

For more information on Woodson's tournament, click here.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Woodson: I wouldn't work for Sterling

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
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Ex-Knicks coach Mike Woodson will likely be looking for another coaching job at some point.

If the allegations regarding Clippers owner Donald Sterling are true, Woodson says he has no interest in coaching the Clippers.

"No. If this comes out to be true, no, absolutely not,” Woodson said on NBA TV on Saturday. “But again we’ve got to let this unfold and see where we are with it."

An audio recording purportedly of Sterling making racist remarks to his girlfriend is being investigated by the NBA.

Woodson agreed with the idea that if the allegations are true, Sterling should be suspended.

"I think it needs to be a suspension if it plays out [as alleged]," Woodson said. "As we sit here today, it’s just sad that an owner would even stoop that low to do something like that. ... I hope that’s not the case."

He added: "I think this thing is bigger than sports when you look at the overall picture. We somehow have got to get passed black and white, where we seemed to have struggled for years. So if he is convicted, he needs to be suspended. How long that should be, I don’t know. He is the owner of the team. You can’t come out and say the things that he said, if he is convicted."

Woodson also expressed support for Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

“I think it’s a sad day in sports,” said Woodson. “It really is. I truly feel for Doc. If one guy can get his team over the hump, it’s Doc Rivers."

“I just think Doc has to stay the course and try to keep all the distractions behind him,” Woodson added. “Because this is not going to go away.”

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Woodson ready to turn page after firing

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
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Mike Woodson wasn’t feeling nostalgic on Monday morning after learning he'd been fired as the New York Knicks' head coach. In fact, he was ready to turn the page pretty quickly.

"I'm fine,” Woodson told ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Monday morning while cleaning out his office. “I have been doing this a long time. I'm good, really good. It's time to move on."

Woodson couldn’t have been caught off guard Monday morning when new team president Phil Jackson informed him that he’d been fired. Woodson’s next move is unclear. He entire staff, including Darrell Walker, Jim Todd and Herb Williams, were let go on Monday.

[+] EnlargeMike Woodson
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports"I'm fine," Woodson told ESPN's Josina Anderson on Monday morning while cleaning out his office. "I have been doing this a long time. I'm good, really good. It's time to move on."
“I'm in my office packing as we speak," Woodson told Anderson. "I'm not really entertaining anything with the media right now. I'm just trying to clear my head. That's what I'm doing."

At least one person in the NBA believes that Woodson got a raw deal.

Charles Barkley said on TNT’s Monday night broadcast that the Knicks’ awful season wasn’t Woodson’s fault.

“The problem with the Knicks is not Mike Woodson,” Barkley said. “Mike Woodson did a good job. Them teams just got a bunch of bums up there. ... It ain’t his fault.”

Barkley added: “The way the Knicks and the Lakers have handled Mike Woodson and Mike D’Antoni, they’ve showed those guys no respect whatsoever.”

Steve Kerr, the man widely believed to be the top candidate to replace Jackson, also expressed sympathy for Woodson on Monday.

“This is the NBA. Coaches basically know when they go in that they are likely to be fired. It’s a brutal business, it’s a brutal profession,” Kerr said on his weekly Sirius XM NBA show. “I think back to a year ago when the Knicks were one of the best stories in the league, they won 54 games. I thought Mike Woodson was one of the top coaches in the league. He did a fantastic job. And then everything fell apart this year for a number of reasons.

“Tyson Chandler’s injury was a major factor. I thought the J.R. Smith suspension early in the season threw the team off right from the start. And then some personnel moves that didn’t work out. They lost a lot of veteran leadership from last year’s team -- guys like Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas -- and they were replaced by younger players who probably weren’t as equipped to handle the adversity that the team faced this year. So I think this was largely circumstantial, but this is the way the NBA works, the coach is usually the first one to pay.”

Kerr wasn’t the only one to react to Woodson’s firing:

Barkley The way the Knicks and the Lakers have handled Mike Woodson and Mike D'Antoni, they've showed those guys no respect whatsoever.

-- Charles Barkley
Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd played for Woodson in his final season as a player with the Knicks in 2012-13.

"That’s a part of the job and it’s unfortunate," Kidd said. "He’s a great coach and a great person, so I wish him the best of luck."

Nets guard Joe Johnson played for Woodson for several seasons in Atlanta.

"It's part of the business. I’m sure Coach Woodson knows this," Johnson said. "I haven’t gotten a chance to talk to him, but I’m sure I will at some point. I wish him the best. I’m sure he’ll get another job somewhere. I wish him the best."

Johnson said he flourished under Woodson.

"He was a great guy for me, who really brought out the best in me," Johnson said. "I had some great years under Coach Woodson. And he was a guy who really put the ball in my hands and told me to make plays, so he means a lot to me.”

Herb, too? Jackson’s decision to fire Herb Williams raised some eyebrows on Monday. The former Knicks big man had served as an assistant for 12 seasons. He was the longest-tenured coach on staff and enjoyed the longest coaching tenure of any on-the-bench assistant in Knicks history.

One theory floating around was that Jackson let Williams go because he intended to fully clean house and hire a new staff and had no interest in having any holdovers from the previous regime.

Williams had served -- or survived -- as an assistant under six head coaches.

Another theory is that Williams was removed to make room for big-man coach Bill Cartwright.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Kerr offers his sympathies to Woody

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
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It sounds as if Steve Kerr is ready to take over as Knicks head coach.

But before he does, Kerr wants to offer his sympathies to departed head coach Mike Woodson.

Kerr said on his Sirius XM NBA show Monday that the Knicks’ struggles this season were "circumstantial" and largely out of Woodson’s control.

“This is the NBA. Coaches basically know when they go in that they are likely to be fired. It’s a brutal business, it’s a brutal profession. I think back to a year ago when the Knicks were one of the best stories in the league, they won 54 games. I thought Mike Woodson was one of the top coaches in the league. He did a fantastic job. And then everything fell apart this year for a number of reasons,” Kerr said.

[+] EnlargeSteve Kerr
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsOne of the leading candidates for the Knicks' coaching vacancy, Kerr called Woody's woes this season "circumstantial."
“Tyson Chandler’s injury was a major factor. I thought the J.R. Smith suspension early in the season threw the team off right from the start. And then some personnel moves that didn’t work out. They lost a lot of veteran leadership from last year’s team -- guys like Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas -- and they were replaced by younger players who probably weren’t as equipped to handle the adversity that the team faced this year. So I think this was largely circumstantial but this is the way the NBA works, the coach is usually the first one to pay.

“I feel bad for Mike,” Kerr added in his first on-the-record interview about the Knicks' job. “I think he’s done an excellent job in New York, but between the struggles of the team this year and the new regime with Phil Jackson I think this was -- and I don’t think I’m the only one saying this -- I think the writing was sort of on the wall the last couple of months. And now here we are.”

Kerr said that he expects to hear from Jackson about the Knicks’ coaching vacancy.

He added on ESPN Chicago’s “Carmen & Jurko Show” on Monday afternoon that he has a desire to coach in the NBA, something Kerr has said in the past.

"Yeah, yeah and I've been pretty open about that the last few years and I think that obviously that's one of the reasons that this is all out there," Kerr said. "... When the time comes, I'll be interested."

Kerr is believed to be at the top of Jackson’s wish list. The TNT analyst and former Suns GM won three titles in Chicago under Jackson.

Kerr, who has never coached in the NBA, said Monday that he and Jackson are still close.

"We've remained close since he retired from coaching," Kerr said. "Even while he was coaching the Lakers I would often have dinner with him on the road if I was playing for another team with him just to catch up."

Kerr won’t have to make time to catch up with Jackson if things go the way most expect them to. He’ll be working with him every day.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

J.R. on Woody: 'He did a good job with me'

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
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J.R. Smith knew this day was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier to digest.

"It is sad,” Smith told ESPN’s Josina Anderson when asked about Mike Woodson’s firing. “He was great to me. I think I got a fair shake for the first time in awhile under him. He treated me how he wanted to be treated. It sucks, but there is nothing I can do about it.

"I think he did a great job," Smith added. "I think he did a good job with me. He responded to the players. It's just a sad day for him, for me and my teammates."

[+] EnlargeJ.R. Smith and Mike Woodson
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIJ.R. Smith says Mike Woodson gave him a fair shake with the Knicks.
Smith and Woodson butted heads at times over the past 2 ½ seasons. But by and large, the shooting guard thrived under Woodson. He won the sixth man award last season and excelled in the starting lineup over the last six weeks of this year.

Smith told Anderson on Monday morning that he had hoped to see Woodson back next season. Woodson is under contract for 2014-15. But Smith added that he supported team president Phil Jackson's desire to clean house.

“I don't know what is fair or not. I'm not the person dealing with fair or not. It would've been nice to see him get another year at least, but Phil Jackson has won a lot of championships and knows basketball, so we have to trust in that," Smith said.

Jackson said in a statement Monday that his search for a new coach would begin immediately. Steve Kerr is the leading candidate to replace Woodson.

Smith told Anderson that it will be “interesting” to see what Kerr, who has never coached before, brings to the bench.

“I don't know Steve that well. I have seen him in the airport a few times. I did some interviews with him. He seems like a cool guy. It would be interesting to see what he's got," Smith said.

Smith is under contract for the next two seasons, with a player option for 2015-16. So the next coach’s relationship with Smith will be worth watching. He’s said several times that Woodson has reached him in a way that no coach in the past has.

Will Smith be able to say the same of Kerr, or whoever is hired to coach the Knicks in 2014-15?

If Smith doesn’t respond well to the next head coach, could that lead to Jackson looking to trade the shooting guard?

Those are all hypothetical questions to ponder in the coming days and weeks.

Monday morning, though, was a time for Smith to mourn the firing of a man he said was one of the best to coach him.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Who's next to coach the Knicks?

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
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Phil Jackson fired Mike Woodson on Monday. Now he has to turn his attention to the Knicks' next coach. Aside from dealing with Carmelo Anthony’s free agency, this is one of Jackson’s biggest decisions of the offseason.

Below, we handicap the field:

Steve Kerr: 2-1 odds

Kerr has long been viewed as the leader in the clubhouse to replace Woodson. It would surprise no one around the NBA if Kerr was hired by the end of the week. Kerr is close with Jackson. He won three titles in Chicago playing under the Zen Master. He also has an intimate knowledge of the triangle offense, which is believed to be a prerequisite to any coach Jackson hires.

Kerr, though, has to decide if he wants to leave the comforts of the TNT broadcast booth for the cauldron of coaching a team in the biggest media market in the country. He has never coached before.

Brian Shaw: 15-1

Shaw is another Jackson disciple. He won three titles as a Laker while playing for Jackson. After retirement, Shaw was hired as a scout and, later, an assistant coach with the Lakers. So like Kerr, Shaw has a strong understanding of Jackson’s triangle offense.

Shaw joining the Knicks is a long shot, though, because Shaw signed a three-year deal to coach the Denver Nuggets last spring. So the Knicks would likely have to offer Denver compensation if they wanted to hire Shaw -- just as the Clippers did in hiring then-Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Phil Jackson: 50-1

Jackson has said as recently as three weeks ago that he has no intention of coaching the Knicks. But in giving his answer to reporters earlier this month, Jackson didn’t seem to entirely rule out the possibility. We don’t think Jackson has any desire to return to the bench, where he’s won an NBA-record 11 titles.

But the notion that Jackson could coach the Knicks next season certainly isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

A source told ESPNLosAngeles.com' Ramona Shelburne in early March that Jackson would be open to the possibility of coaching for a short period of time if it was necessary.

Long shots: Derek Fisher, Mark Jackson, Kurt Rambis, Jim Cleamons

Jackson is under contract with the Warriors. If he is fired by Golden State, he may emerge as a candidate, but he has no ties to Jackson. The former St. John’s star and ex-Knick would likely be well received by the team’s fan base.

Fisher, who announced that he will retire after the season, is a favorite of Jackson but has no head-coaching experience.

Rambis and Cleamons have worked as assistants under Jackson, but neither is the big name that may be needed to satisfy Jackson’s boss, owner James Dolan.

Longer shots: Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, John Calipari

All three were thought to be strong candidates before Jackson was hired. But each coach has a strong track record of success and could seek some degree of control over personnel moves in his next job. That’s unlikely to be granted with Jackson as team president.

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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Which member of the hated late-'90s Jordanaires would you most like to see coach the Knicks?

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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.

Opening Tip: Woody's worst mistake?

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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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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What was Mike Woodson's biggest downfall?

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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.

Opening Tip: If Woodson's out, who's in?

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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About an hour after after the last game of the Knicks' miserable season, J.R. Smith took some time to reflect on the uncertainty surrounding his coach.

"He's in a tough situation," Smith said of Mike Woodson. "It's a situation that he's been in all year. Pretty much not knowing his place and where he's going to be; whether he's going to be here, whether he's not going to be here. I think it's a tough circumstance to deal with and I just hated that it had to be him because he's a great person and a great coach."

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Nothing's official yet. But there is widespread speculation that Knicks president Phil Jackson will fire Woodson in the coming days. Woodson is under contract for next season, but the coach seemed to be resigned to his fate on Wednesday.

"Is it fair to let me go? I don't think so. Again, I don't make that decision. That's got to come from the top," the coach said Wednesday.

Let's assume that Jackson decides to let Woodson go. What happens next? Below, we take a look at three guys we think Jackson would strongly consider hiring as the Knicks' next coach:

Steve Kerr: Several reports, including one from ESPN.com's Marc Stein, state that the job is Kerr's if he wants it. So Kerr has to decide if he wants to leave the comfort of the TNT studio for the cauldron of coaching in New York. Kerr and Jackson remain close. As a player, Kerr won three titles while playing under Jackson in Chicago. Thanks to those years learning from Jackson, Kerr is intimately familiar with the triangle offense. He's also expressed an interest in coaching.

Brian Shaw: Shaw, the Denver Nuggets coach, is also close with Jackson. He won three titles with the Zen Master in Los Angeles and later served as a scout and assistant coach for the Lakers while Jackson was the coach.

Shaw is well-schooled in the triangle offense but he inked a three-year deal to coach the Nuggets last spring. So the Knicks will need to give Denver compensation if they hope to hire Shaw, unless he gets let go by the Nuggets. That's unlikely to happen though.

Phil Jackson: Jackson said as recently as two weeks ago that he has no plans to coach the Knicks. But if his coaching search doesn't yield a desirable candidate, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for Jackson to take the bench next season.

A source told ESPN LA's Ramona Shelburne in early March that Jackson would be open to the possibility of coaching for a short period of time if it was necessary.

Dark-horse candidates: Derek Fisher, Mark Jackson, Kurt Rambis

Up now: Woodson believes he's the best man to coach the Knicks next season.

The Knicks inked Lamar Odom to a two-year deal, with an ungauranteed option for next season.

Let us know which Knicks you'd keep and which you'd dump heading into next season.

What's next: The Knicks will conduct exit interviews with players on Thursday. Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire are expected to meet with reporters.

Question:
If Phil Jackson fires Mike Woodson, who should he hire as the Knicks' next coach?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

STAT: We didn't buy into Woodson's system

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
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NEW YORK -- Amar'e Stoudemire says one of the Knicks’ downfalls this season was the team’s unwillingness to completely buy into Mike Woodson’s coaching.

“I think next year we got to take more of a mindset of trying to master the game,” Stoudemire said before the Knicks’ season finale against Toronto. “I mean, again, certain strategies were placed upon us with Coach Woodson. There were times when we didn’t quite buy into it and as a result of that, we lost games.”

Knicks players have been critical of the coaching at times this season. Carmelo Anthony said the team didn’t make the necessary adjustments following a loss to Indiana earlier this season. And Tyson Chandler questioned Woodson’s strategy of switching on defense as well earlier in the year.

Before the Knicks’ final game, Woodson defended his coaching when asked about his uncertain future after failing to make the playoffs.

“Am I the guy for the job? I’m the only guy for this job,” Woodson reiterated. “I’ve always said that. And I don’t mean that in a braggadocios way. I feel good about what I do as a coach. I know the system works.

“Unfortunately, this season we’ve had some bad luck, some bad breaks along the way. But hey, I can’t go back and get this season. If I could I would.”

It’s widely expected that Phil Jackson will make a coaching change and bring in someone from his triangle tree. Jackson repeatedly talked about having the Knicks built on system basketball for the future at his introductory press conference.

Jackson also could bring in more veterans he’s familiar with, like Lamar Odom, who signed with the Knicks prior to the game. Odom played for Jackson with the Lakers.

Stoudemire said the Knicks couldn’t overcome the loss of leadership from last year's 54-win squad with Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace moving on.

“We lost a lot of vets,” Stoudemire said. “And those vets were definitely key leaders for us. And it was tough for me to be the leader that I know I am because I was still on limited minutes and I wasn’t playing much so it was tough for me to lead by example.

“Once I got into the starting lineup, then my leadership qualities [resurfaced],” he added. “So, next year, we should be focused a little bit more and it’ll be a much better year.”

Woody to J.R.: Shoot more free throws!

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
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When he looks at J.R. Smith’s stat sheet from Sunday, Mike Woodson isn’t bothered by the 22 3-point shot attempts. He’s upset by the lack of free-throws.

“You can’t go 30-plus minutes and not shoot a free throw. Good scorers in this league, they’ve got to mix their game up. I’ve got to get him where he’s shooting 5-7 free throws,” Woodson said. “There’s no reason why he shouldn’t because he’s athletic enough. And I know he can put the ball down to the floor and get to the rim.”

Smith impressed some folks and annoyed some others by attempting an NBA record 22 threes in the Knicks’ loss to Miami on Sunday. He shot 10 alone in the fourth quarter, making five. Woodson on Monday praised Smith for keeping the Knicks in the game but added that he’d like to see him be more than one dimensional.

“I want J.R. to be a complete player,” the coach said.

Woodson was asked later on ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s “The Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco Show” if things would be different for the Knicks if Smith had been scoring like this throughout the season.

“Those are the unknowns, the what-ifs. It Tyson [Chandler] doesn’t go down three games into the regular season. There’s just been a number of things,” Woodson said. “I could have been better as a coach. You can point the finger there as well. As a coach, I take pride in what I do and I’ll never pass the buck on anybody. This season has been tough on a lot of people and I take full responsibility for that. At the end of the day we’ve got four games left and we’ve still got a shot [for a playoff berth].”

No progress for Bargnani and K-Mart:
Andrea Bargnani (elbow) and Kenyon Martin (ankle) have not been cleared for contact. It seems like neither will play again during the regular season.

Martin, out since Feb. 3 with an ankle injury, said last week that he was getting closer to a return but didn’t provide any specific details. Bargnani has been out since Jan. 24 with a torn ligament in his left elbow.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Woody: I wanted Melo to pass on final play

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
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Mike Woodson put the ball in Carmelo Anthony's hands on the New York Knicks' final possession of Friday night's messy loss to the Washington Wizards.

But the coach said on Saturday that was looking for Anthony to pass, not shoot.

Anthony was hampered by a shoulder injury all night and Woodson hoped his star could draw the attention of the defense and find an open teammate.

"I wasn't looking for Melo to make the play to shoot the ball," Woodson said on Saturday, "I was looking for Melo to make the play to pass the ball to one of the -- either Amar'e [Stoudemire] rolling and if they took Amar'e on the roll then you'd have shooters around him to make a shot but it just didn't unfold that way."

Instead, Anthony drove to the basket but lost the ball while going up for a shot.

The ball ended up in J.R. Smith's hands.

Smith took an off-balance three-pointer with 2.3 seconds to play that missed and the Knicks walked off the floor with another dispiriting last-minute loss.

Woodson said he hoped the play would have worked out like the Knicks' prior possession, when Anthony found Raymond Felton alone on the wing for an open three pointer. Bothered by a shoulder injury, Anthony had nine turnovers and just 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting against Washington so he said Saturday he was looking at Carmelo as more of a decoy.

"I figured if you put in Melo's hands and you run the pick and roll again, I knew they were going to trap him," Woodson said.

Woodson also pointed out that Smith missed a wide-open Amar'e Stoudemire underneath the basket at the end of the game.

"It was 2.6 when he let it go and Amar'e was standing naked under the bucket so what are you going to do? You drop it to him he lays it in it's game over," Woodson said.

Stoudemire was upset after the game, though he seemed to be bothered by the loss in its entirety more than the final sequence.

The defeat left the Knicks a game back of Atlanta with five to play entering Sunday's game against the Heat.

The Knicks are two games behind the Hawks in the loss column, though, and Atlanta holds the tiebreaker based on conference record.

"It's going to come down to the very end. Right now we have five games left and it's on us, it's on us," Anthony said.

Melo: "I beat myself up": Anthony wasn't happy with the way he played on Friday.

"I wanted to do more. For the most part, we played a great game. Like I said last night, J.R. Smith had a helluva game, guys just played well. I just couldn't seem to get it going last night so I kind of beat myself up about that. For whatever reason, whether it's shoulder issues or whatever reason, I beat myself up."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Opening Tip: Miss the Kidd?

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
6:00
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What's the biggest difference between the Knick team that won 54 games last year and the team that's struggling to make the playoffs this season?

To Metta World Peace, the answer to that question is simple.

[+] EnlargeJason Kidd
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiKnicks fans prefer Jason Kidd in an orange and blue uniform.
It's the guy who coaches the Nets.

In an interview shortly after he was released by the Knicks, World Peace told ESPN New York that his teammates talked often about how much the club misses Jason Kidd this season.

"I spoke to a lot of people and a lot of people are saying Jason Kidd was the reason [for the Knicks' poor play this year]," World Peace said in late February. "... I spoke to Tyson about it and Tyson said Jason Kidd used to do a lot of adjustments on the court. So that was an issue that we had this year with Jason Kidd becoming a coach. A lot of times they kept saying, 'We miss that presence of Jason Kidd.'"

There are statistics and anecdotal evidence that support World Peace's point.

Last year, the Knicks were 7-5 in games decided by three points or fewer. This season, with Kidd on the other side of the East River, the Knicks have gone 2-7 in such games.

That statistic suggests a failure by the Knicks to execute late in close games.

There's no way to say this with any certainty, but maybe Kidd could have helped the Knicks handle things better in tight games.

"You don't see it on the stat sheet, but there's three or four or five plays that Jason does throughout the course of a game that beats the other team," Mike Woodson said of Kidd last year. "It's amazing."

Another instance in which the Knicks miss Kidd? Their collective basketball IQ seems to have taken a hit without the veteran point guard on the floor.

Losses to Washington, Houston, Indiana and a double-overtime win over Milwaukee come to mind.

It wouldn't be a stretch to wonder if Kidd's on-court intelligence could've offset some of the late-game errors that cost the Knicks wins.

"He's just like another coach on the court," Raymond Felton said of Kidd last season. "We get down by 10, 15 points and he's still calm. I've never seen a guy who's so poised; it seems like he isn't worried about anything."

Of course, the most recent memory of Kidd on the court isn't pretty.

The then 40-year-old ended his playing career by missing 17 straight shots over 10 games in the 2013 playoffs. So it's easy to forget that Kidd played such an integral role in the Knicks' early season success.

But he did.

In in the first 26 games of the season, Kidd hit an eye-popping 44.3 percent of his 3-point attempts. He also helped the ball movement in a Knicks offense that at times became encumbered by isolation.

Kidd's assist rate -- or the number of his assists compared to possessions used -- was 33 percent for the season. That's more than double the league average.

The Knicks this season rank 21st in assist rate (16.2).

With that being said, Kidd's absence certainly isn't the only reason the Knicks have struggled this season.

Their offseason acquisition of Andrea Bargnani didn't work out well.

Both J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert started slowly this season following offseason knee surgeries. Shumpert hasn't produced on a consistent basis.

Smith turned things around after two months of subpar play. Injuries, such as Tyson Chandler's broken leg, have certainly impacted the season. Woodson's also made some costly coaching errors.

Given all of that, do you think the absence of Kidd is the biggest reason behind the Knicks' struggles this season? Kidd, of course, has the chance Wednesday to make the Knicks' season even more miserable as his Nets face the Knicks at the Garden.

Up Now: Can Iman Shumpert fill the scoring void if Tim Hardaway Jr. sits out Wednesday's game against Brooklyn?

The Knicks front office ranked dead last out of all the NBA teams in a poll of ESPN NBA Forecasters.

What's next: The Knicks play the Nets at Madison Square Garden tomorrow on ESPN.

Question: Do you think the absence of Kidd is the biggest reason behind the Knicks' struggles this season?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Woodson's game plan goes south out West

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
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LOS ANGELES -- Whenever the New York Knicks lose, coach Mike Woodson is usually ridiculed for many of his suspect coaching decisions.

More often than not, he deserves it. Not Tuesday night, though.

The Knicks’ defense, by any objective measure, was atrocious against the Los Angeles Lakers in their 127-96 loss.

“I thought the plan was perfect starting the game,” Woodson said. “And then [the Lakers] went to the bench and they came out blazing. We couldn’t control them and they got back into the game, and we couldn’t catch them.”

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony and Mike Woodson
Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsMike Woodson appeared to lose control of the Knicks in Tuesday's debacle against the Lakers.
The Knicks gave up 127 points, including 87 in the second and third quarters combined, and 18 3-pointers to the Lakers, allowing them to shoot 57.8 percent overall.

The lapse came after holding the Lakers to just 14 points and 27.8 percent shooting in an impressive defensive effort the first quarter. The Lakers torched the Knicks for 113 points in the final three quarters.

“They executed their offense well,” Tyson Chandler said. “Their ball movement -- the ball was flying all over the place. They were driving and kicking and kind of putting us in multiple spots. Especially in transition. It seemed like every shot we took and missed started a fast break for them. We kind of couldn’t stop the bleeding.”

After the game, several Knicks even defended Woodson, claiming he had an elaborate game plan to stymie Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense, but they seemed to tune him out.

“Attention to detail is very important,” Amar'e Stoudemire said. “Woody gives us a strategy before the game. ... I guess we didn’t pay attention to what the coaching staff was saying, and [the Lakers] took advantage of it.”

On March 3, Woodson opted to insert Stoudemire and J.R. Smith into the starting lineup against the Detroit Pistons amid a six-game losing streak. The result? Another loss.

Since then, however, the Knicks have won eight of their last 10 games, which is remarkable regardless of how easy their schedule was.

The new starting lineup -- which, at least on paper, is the Knicks’ most talented lineup -- was outscoring opponents by 13.4 points per 100 possessions heading into the Lakers debacle. Stoudemire, in particular, had been on a tear, averaging 17.8 points on 58.9 percent shooting, 6.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks over that span.

The Knicks had found a formula that worked. The playoffs were a legitimate possibility.

Then, a near collapse against the Philadelphia 76ers. After that, an actual collapse against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tonight, blown out by the lowly Lakers.

The Knicks have been a bottom-five defense for most of the year, and currently rank 25th in defensive rating. To no surprise, the five teams below them are in the lottery -- where the Knicks are likely headed.

Opening Tip: Fair to blame Woody?

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
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Maybe he was just trying to be polite, but Mike Woodson decided to blame himself for the New York Knicks’ hope-crushing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.

“We didn’t handle our business,” Woodson said, “and I’ve got to take full responsibility for that.”

We’ve got to take issue with that.

SportsNation

Fair to blame Mike Woodson for the Knicks' loss to the Cavs?

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Discuss (Total votes: 5,015)

Woodson didn’t allow Jarrett Jack to go off for a career-high 31 points.

He didn’t come out of the locker room listless to start the second half and allow Cleveland to score nine unanswered points.

Woodson didn’t force his superstar, Carmelo Anthony, to miss 10 of his final 12 shots. And he didn't force the Knicks to shoot 5-for-18 in the fourth.

The Cavs' defense accomplished that.

The coach has taken plenty of heat this season for coaching mistake and he's deserved most of it.

Most recently, the coach was criticized for failing to put his starters back in the game against Philadelphia on Friday as the Sixers nearly came back from 15 down.

He was crushed for the Knicks' inability to execute late in a last-second loss to Washington back in December.

He also drew the ire of critics after a sloppy early January loss in Houston and bad home losses to the lowly Sixers and Kings before the trade deadline. All of it was deserved.

It's part of the territoty when you're a head coach in professional sports. But Woodson also seems to get next to no credit when the Knicks win. I didn't hear anyone praising Woody during New York's eight-game winning streak.

Surely, Woodson will get hammered after the Knicks' no-show performance late in Sunday's game.

Some will no doubt use the loss as more evidence that Woody should be let go at the end of the season.

But, to us, that criticism would be off base.

Woody was the least of the Knicks’ worries on Sunday night.

Up now: Ohm Youngmisuk breaks down just how devastating this loss was for the Knicks.

Woodson says the disastrous loss falls on his shoulders.

Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani aren’t any closer to returning to the court.

What’s next: The Knicks will head to L.A. to take on the Lakers on Tuesday.

Question: Do you think it’s fair to blame Mike Woodson for Sunday’s loss?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2