New York Knicks: Mike Woodson

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

April, 9, 2014
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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
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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.

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

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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.

Woody: I 'absolutely' should coach Knicks

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
11:20
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Mike WoodsonGarrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesMike Woodson says he should stick around for the Phil Jackson era. Do you agree?
NEW YORK -- It's widely believed that New York Knicks president Phil Jackson will bring in a new coach next season.

Many envision Jackson bringing in Steve Kerr, Brian Shaw or another disciple of his triangle offense to coach the team in 2014-15.

Mike Woodson hasn't talked to Jackson about his future yet. But he said on Thursday that "it would be fantastic" if Jackson kept him as coach next season. He is under contract for next season.

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"At the end of the day, Phil is going to make the final decision on who he wants to coach his team and I've got to respect that," Woodson said Thursday in an interview on ESPN 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show." "If I sit here today and you ask me do I think I'm the guy for this job? Absolutely, I do. I know these players, I've been with them for now three years and I think I can coach. But again it's still going to be up to Phil and [Knicks owner James] Dolan to make that final decision."

Woodson also said that he's "OK" with the idea that Dolan offered Jackson an opportunity to coach the team earlier this season.

"When you're talking about going out and bringing someone in, what better coach to bring in? I can't be upset with that. It doesn't get much better than Phil Jackson," he said. "He's here as the president and coach Mike Woodson is still coaching the Knicks. I'm bigger than that. This is Mr. Dolan's team and he's entitled to talk to anybody about a coaching position. He just happened to talk to one of the greatest coaches to grace our game, so that's OK."

The Knicks (28-40) have performed well-below expectations this season. They are four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot with 14 games to play. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only one team in the past 30 years has overcome a deficit of at least four games with at least 14 games to play to make the postseason.

Knicks ink Brown, let Clark go: The Knicks signed guard Shannon Brown, an former Laker who played under Jackson, for the rest of the season. They let the contract of Earl Clark expire. The Knicks now have an open roster spot. It is unclear at this point if they plan to fill it.

Question: Do you think Jackson should keep Woodson as coach for next season?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

C's prez: We'll hate Knicks when Phil comes

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
7:26
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The Knicks' hiring of Phil Jackson is going to add a little fuel to the Knicks-Celtics rivalry.

So says Boston Celtics president Rich Gotham.

"It'll just give us one more reason to not like the Knicks," Gotham told HuffPost Live. "In Boston we like to have good reasons to not like the New York teams, particularly the Knicks, if you're the Celtics.

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"Phil, he's the guy who is the challenger to Red Auerbach's record for most titles won as a coach, so bring it on. Give us a little more fuel for the rivalry. I don't want to say anything about the people who are there now, but having a guy like Phil around, it's all good fun for us, because he's one of our nemeses."

Jackson actually has more titles than Auerbach as a head coach. Jackson has an NBA-record 11 titles as a head coach. Auerbach won nine as a coach. But Red had 16 as both a coach and executive. Jackson has 13 total rings (coach and player) and hopes to add to that title total with the Knicks. He is expected to come to an official agreement with the Knicks later this week to serve as president of basketball operations.

Woody to air gripes with Dolan? There is widespread speculation that Mike Woodson will be replaced at the end of the season. His job security has been a topic of discussion for most of the year. Somewhat surprisingly, no member of Knicks ownership or the front office has addressed Woodson's status publicly to quell the speculation. Given that circumstance, Woodson was asked on Thursday if he felt he has been treated unfairly at all this year.

Woodson wouldn't get into details on his radio spot on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show," but the coach did mentioned that he may want to talk to Knicks owner James Dolan at some point after the season to discuss any unfair treatment.

"My thing is if there has been any unfairness to Mike Woodson, when the time comes we’ll sit down and talk, me and Mr. Dolan if that may be the case or whoever is in charge here," Woodson said. "I think at the end of the day it’s been tough on everybody because of the high expectations. I’m not running away from that or sitting here saying that I was not a part of it."

Woodson said J.R. Smith's five-game suspension at the beginning of the season was one of the reasons the team got off to a slow start. Smith sat out of the first five games of the regular season due to violating the terms of NBA's anti-drug program.

"I thought the J.R. situation put us behind early on, I really believe that to this day," Woodson said.

Tyson, Amar'e may play Saturday: Woodson said Tyson Chandler, who has missed two games for personal reasons, may play Saturday against Milwaukee. Woodson said he would know more about Chandler's status on Friday.

The coach expects Amar'e Stoudemire to play against the Bucks. Stoudemire missed Wednesday's game, taking what the team called a "recovery day" to rest his knees.

Tyson continues campaign to reduce demand for rhino horn and ivory: Chandler has been active with the NBA Cares program to try to curtail the demand for ivory and rhino horn. He recently filmed a public service announcement, along with several other NBA players, to try to educate the public on the detrimental nature of the demand for rhino horn and ivory. It can be viewed here.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

J.R.: Woody hasn't been treated fairly

March, 8, 2014
Mar 8
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NEW YORK -- All the talk about coach Mike Woodson's job security hasn't sat well with J.R. Smith.

And the most recent development -- the Knicks' pursuit of Phil Jackson -- doesn't sit well with Smith, either, because of its effect on Woodson.

[+] EnlargeJ.R. Smith, Marvin Williams
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesJ.R. Smith scored 17 points against the Jazz, including five 3-pointers.
"I don't think it's been fair the way he's been treated all year," Smith said Friday, following the Knicks' 108-81 win over the Utah Jazz. "I think he's done a great job since he's taken over the head [coaching] job, and if we're having a bad year, I don't think he should take the blame for all of that. I think some of the players should take the blame for that. And we should move on as a unit as opposed to singling people out."

Woodson's job security has been in question all season due to the Knicks' struggles. On Friday, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported that Knicks president Steve Mills met with Phil Jackson and talked to him about coaching the team.

ESPNNewYork.com later confirmed the Knicks also discussed a potential front-office position with Jackson. The front-office offer was first reported by the New York Daily News.

It made for an awkward day at Madison Square Garden because Woodson remains under contract. He is expected to be fired at the end of this season but is under contract through the 2014-15 season.

"I really don't have an opinion on it," Woodson said before Friday's game, when asked about the Jackson reports. "I really don't. Again, as I sit here today, I am the coach of the New York Knicks. I am not going to entertain anything about Phil.

"I have a great deal of respect for Phil, but I am not going to entertain anything about Phil Jackson. My job is to try to get this team to play at a high level and we got a big game tonight against Utah, and we got to get ready to play."

After the Knicks' win Friday, Carmelo Anthony said he was aware of the reports about Jackson but was not privy to the organization's pursuit of the legendary coach.

"Of course, you hear it," he said. "I heard it when I came in today. In the training room, that's all that's on ESPN, so you see the stuff. But as far as me, personally, I haven't heard anything of that nature, so it's hard for me to speak on something I don't know about."

High-five: The Knicks' new starting five had another strong night Friday. The unit of Smith, Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler combined to score 73 of the Knicks' 108 points.

The unit also helped New York build a 17-point, first-quarter lead.

"We got a lot of weapons in that starting lineup," Smith said.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

What Knicks' pursuit of Phil Jackson means

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
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Phil JacksonNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty ImagesPhil Jackson is on the Knicks' radar. What does that mean for Mike Woodson?
So, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, the Knicks reached out to Phil Jackson to see whether he'd coach the team next. Here are a few factors to consider when thinking about the Knicks' pursuit of Phil:

Gonna be awkward: This isn't the first time an NBA executive has reached out to a potential coaching candidate while there's a coach under contract. And it probably won't be the last. But that doesn't mean the Knicks' pursuit of Jackson will sit well with Mike Woodson.

Remember, Woodson is still under contract with the Knicks. In fact, he's signed through the 2014-15 season. Most expect Woodson to be fired at season's end, if not before. Those expectations aside, Steve Mills' pursuit of Jackson while Woodson is under contract has to be upsetting to the coach -- and likely will rub other members of the coaching fraternity the wrong way.

Will he run the show? According to Smith, Jackson, 68, told the Knicks he wasn't interested in the position. But would he consider an executive role with the team? Reports have swirled for the past few seasons that Jackson has interest in running a team or shaping a roster.

The Knicks have a need to fill at the executive level.

Mills, the Knicks' current president and GM, took over for fired Glen Grunwald shortly before the start of training camp. But he's not known as a talent evaluator, so the general consensus at the time of his hiring was that the Knicks eventually would seek to fill the void with a top-notch player evaluator.

Jackson, with his 11 NBA title rings, would bring the Knicks instant credibility in the front office.

What about Melo? Every big decision around the Knicks these days has to be made with Carmelo Anthony in mind. Anthony plans to opt out of his contract and test free agency this summer. The Knicks will do everything they can to retain Carmelo.

You can bet that, if things between the Knicks and Jackson get serious, the Knicks' brain trust will run the idea by Anthony to gauge his interest.

The star forward said earlier this year that his sole motivation is to win a title.

Jackson has won plenty, including a championship as a player with the Knicks in 1972-73. So you'd think bringing him on would help the Knicks' pursuit of re-signing Carmelo.

Obviously, Woody's done: The Knicks' decision to go after Jackson makes it clear that Woody won't be coaching the team next season. His job security had been in question all season thanks to New York's struggles.

The current theory is that Woody will coach for the rest of the season and the Knicks will find a big-name coach this summer to help persuade Anthony to stay in New York. Obviously, Mills has started the search already.

Other coaches you can expect the Knicks to show interest in include Tom Thibodeau (if he can leave Chicago), John Calipari and Jeff Van Gundy.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Opening Tip: Playoffs?!?!?

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
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Mike WoodsonAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhCan Mike Woodson's crew make a legitimate run at the playoffs?
One phrase that you've heard often from Mike Woodson over the past few days is the following: "mathematically, we're still alive."

Technically, the coach is right.

But the Knicks face long odds if they want to make the postseason.

Woodson's troops are 5 1/2 games behind eighth-place Atlanta with 20 games to play.

There is still maybe a little light at the end of the tunnel, if we can put a string of wins together here and get back in the race. But right now we're in a dogfight.

-- Knicks coach Mike Woodson
No club has made the playoffs in an 82-game season with fewer than 36 wins since 1995.

The Knicks would have to finish 14-6 to even hit that mark.

In addition, since the current 16-team playoff format began in 1983-84, only two playoff qualifiers were five or more games out of the eighth playoff spot with 25 or fewer games left in the season (1996-97 Bullets, 2004-05 Nets).

Both of those teams were swept in the first round.

So history isn't on the Knicks' side. But if they want to make a run, the next ten games give them an opportunity to do so.

New York's next ten opponents are a combined 171 games under .500.

Only one team (Indiana) is over .500. And four of the ten opponents have records better than the Knicks. So they have an opportunity to make up some ground here.

“There is still maybe a little light at the end of the tunnel, if we can put a string of wins together here and get back in the race,” Woodson said. “But right now we’re in a dogfight.”

What about the teams the Knicks are fighting with for that last spot?

Six of the Hawks' next 10 opponents are in playoff position. And Cleveland has a brutal upcoming schedule, with eight of its next 10 opponents currently being in playoff position. The two games they play against teams on the outside of the playoff race are against the Knicks.

The other team between New York and a playoff spot is the Pistons. Detroit has an easier upcoming schedule than the Cavs. Four of its next ten games are against teams currently in playoff position.

But the Pistons play seven of those 10 games on the road.

So if the Knicks are going to make a miracle run at the playoffs, they’ll have a good opportunity to make a dent in the next 10 games.

Up now: Chris Broussard reports that Joakim Noah has talked to free-agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony about playing for the Bulls over All-Star Weekend.

Knicks fans are planning a protest outside of MSG later this month.

Looking for someone to blame for this miserable Knicks season? Mike Woodson says it's "all on my shoulders."

What's next: The Knicks play the Jazz at home on Friday night.

Question: Do you think the Knicks have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Woody: Knicks better if Ray played OK

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
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Ray FeltonJim McIsaac/Getty ImagesRaymond Felton is averaging 3.8 points per game fewer than last season.
At this juncture in the season, it's pretty pointless to play the "what if" game with the Knicks.

But, when prodded, Mike Woodson went down that road on Thursday.

In an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show" Woodson was asked if the Knicks' season would have been different if Raymond Felton played at a high level all year.

Felton
Felton
"It would have been different. We would have been in a better position than we’re in now. There’s no doubt about that. But it’s not just Raymond," Woodson said.

Felton's play has been inconsistent for much of the 2013-'14 campaign. He missed 16 games due to various injuries, which impacted his rhythm, and he's struggled at times with his shot.

More recently, Felton's play has been impacted by an off-the-court issue. The point guard was arraigned and charged last week with two weapons-related felonies. In the four games following his arraignment, Felton shot just 22 percent from the field.

On the season, Felton is scoring 10.1 points per game, 3.8 points fewer than last season, and hitting just 39 percent of his shots.

But the 29-year-old broke out on Wednesday, scoring 18 points and handing out eight assists in a win over Minnesota. So Woodson agreed with the idea presented by Ruocco that the Knicks' season would be different if Felton had played every night like he did against Minnesota.

The Knicks are 14-9 when Felton scores in double figures, so Woodson has a point.

The coach said on Thursday that he recently considered limiting Felton's minutes because it was clear Felton was having a tough time dealing with the arrest.

"His thing was, 'Hey coach, this is my only out ... I have nowhere else to go, basketball is my out,'" Woodson said. "I understand that and as a coach I said, 'Hey listen. I’m going to hang in there and these are the things I expect you to do.' I thought he came out and handled it very well last night."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Woody: NY's struggles 'all on my shoulders'

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
4:33
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Mike WoodsonMaddie Meyer/Getty ImagesMike Woodson believes he can win with any group of players, and these Knicks are no exception.
If you're looking for someone to blame for the Knicks' miserable season, Mike Woodson has a candidate for you.

"I put it all on my shoulders," Woodson said Thursday in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show.

"I’ve always thought as a coach, and most coaches probably feel the same way, you need talent to win, you need healthy bodies to win. But I’ve kinda gotten past that," Woodson added. "I think I can take whoever suits up and win with it. That’s just how I feel."

In the interview, Woodson noted that injuries have played a "major part" in the Knicks' struggles this season, one that he called the "most challenging" in his nine-year head-coaching tenure.

New York has lost Tyson Chandler for 20 games due to an injury. Raymond Felton has been in and out of the lineup due to various ailments. J.R. Smith started slowly due to offseason knee surgery, Iman Shumpert has had knee issues, and Kenyon Martin has missed more than three weeks with an ankle injury.

"It’s been hard to put a team on the floor and have any kind of chemistry all season long. It’s just been that way," Woodson said. "Not being able to practice based on all the bodies being in and out, not having 10 guys on the floor to go up and down in practice, it’s been a lot this season."

All NBA teams deal with injuries, though. And not all have dealt with them as poorly as the Knicks. New York is 18 games under .500 and 5½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 20 games to go.

Smith and Ruocco pointed out that the Chicago Bulls have weathered injuries to Derrick Rose and a trade of Luol Deng to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the East.

"A lot of it has to do with our chemistry and being able to have the pieces in place when you really need it. The core group is there, in Raymond, J.R., Melo and Tyson and Iman. That was the core group we brought back this season and [were] going to depend a lot on," Woodson said. "Guys have been in and out, there’s no question about that. But we just have not been able to put it together defensively as well as offensively."

Some, including this writer, noted that the Knicks looked like a team that had quit on its coach and each other in recent losses. Woodson doesn't see it that way.

"There were games where we held double-digit leads," the coach said. "If you’re quitting, you’re not competing to get an advantage in a ballgame."

Woodson's job security has been in question all season. The Knicks are likely to let him finish out the season and start a coaching search over the summer. On Thursday, Woodson defended his record as coach and pointed out that the Knicks are still mathematically eligible for the postseason.

"I haven’t forgotten how to coach, there’s no doubt about that in my mind, I haven’t," Woodson said. "Again, our record doesn’t indicate that, and that’s the downside of coaching."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Melo: We'll be 'tested' on road trip

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1
8:39
PM ET
Throughout this disaster of a Knicks season, Carmelo Anthony has found a way to remain mostly positive.

But that optimism appears to be waning.

Late Friday night, after the Knicks’ 23-point home loss to the Golden State Warriors, Anthony was asked if New York has the mental fortitude to make a run at the postseason.

His answer said it all.

"We're going to be tested, especially on this road trip right now. … We’re definitely going to be tested on this road trip," Anthony said.

Notice, Anthony couldn’t give his teammates the benefit of the doubt here. He couldn’t, with a straight face, tell Knicks fans that his team has the wherewithal to overcome a monumental deficit in the standings.

And his honesty should be applauded.

The Knicks, after all, enter play Sunday six games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with 23 games to play.

They’ll begin a three-game road trip on Sunday in Chicago.

"There are not going to be any easy games," coach Mike Woodson said. "So we got to go out and play and earn some wins."

Woodson took the opposite approach of his superstar on Friday. He continued to sell the idea that the Knicks could make a run at the playoffs after their no-show performance against Golden State.

"We got to still stay in the moment," Woodson said. "… Like I told them in the locker room: You still got a shot at it."

This statement reveals one of two things about the Knicks coach. He’s either extremely optimistic or he doesn’t check the NBA standings very often.

Mathematically, the Knicks are still alive, but they face extremely long odds.

Since the current 16-team playoff format began in 1983-84, only two playoff qualifiers were five or more games out of the eighth playoff spot with 25 or fewer games left in the season (1996-97 Bullets, 2004-05 Nets).

Both of those teams, however, were swept in the first round.

The Knicks have a tough road ahead of them. They play 14 of their final 22 games on the road, including a five-game road swing.

"Somewhere along the line, we got to draw the line and figure out if we are really committed as a team and want to try to get into the playoffs. We can’t beg for help," Woodson said.

They can't beg for help, but they'll need plenty of it to make the playoffs.

The Knicks have lost nine of ten and five straight. They haven't showed that they're capable of putting together the kind of winning streak needed to catch the Hawks.

That reality seemed to dawn on Anthony after Friday's ugly loss to Golden State.

"I keep saying we've got to figure it out, figure it out, but it's time now where we should have it down pat right," Anthony said. "We shouldn't be in this position. But we've got games to play and there's no holding our heads [down] right now. Nobody wants to see that."

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Woody: Fingers crossed for Melo's return

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
6:08
PM ET
We can all guess and make assumptions, but only Carmelo Anthony truly knows how this awful New York Knicks season will impact his approach to free agency.

For what it's worth, Mike Woodson thinks the Knicks will have a better chance to re-sign Anthony if they make the postseason.

"It would sure make it a lot better if we're able to get into the playoffs," Woodson in an interview Friday on ESPN 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show."

"I think at the end of the day Melo will make the right decision. What that decision is going to be, I don't know. But I'd like to think that, being his coach, and being around him the last three years, that he'll stay in New York. That's where we want him to stay, that's where I would like to see him. I'm a big Knick fan, I want him to stay in New York, it would be nice."

The Knicks are 5 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Saturday's loss to Atlanta left them a season-high 14 games under .500.

Anthony seems more and more resigned that the season is a lost cause after each successive defeat.

It's worth noting, though, that the Knicks can sign Anthony to a max contract worth $129 million over five years. If Anthony signs with another team, the maximum contract he can ink is a four-year pact for $96 million.

Anthony has said that his "first priority" is to sign with the Knicks, but he'd like to sit down with the team's ownership and front office to learn more about their plans to build a championship contender in New York.

The star forward has also said he'd take less money -- to stay with the Knicks or go to another franchise -- if it gave them more cap space to sign other free agents.

Woody: I have to play Melo big minutes

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
5:52
PM ET
It sounds like Carmelo Anthony should get used to playing big minutes for the rest of the season.

Mike Woodson said on Friday that he’s “got to” play Anthony nearly 40 minutes per game these days as the Knicks are try to climb back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. They enter play Saturday 4 games behind Atlanta and Charlotte for the eighth seed in the conference.

"For us, right now, I've gotta play him because again, there's just no room for error,” Woodson said Friday in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM’s “The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show.” He continued: “We're trying to make the playoffs, man. So when I can rest him I will rest him. If I can't, I gotta play him and I think he understands that. He's never really complained and I've got to watch in this trench.”

Entering play Saturday, Anthony led the league in minutes played per game (39.1). He played 50 minutes in Friday’s double-overtime loss to Orlando.

Whether those minutes have impacted Anthony is open to debate. He’s the league’s second-leading scorer, but his field goal percentage drops in each successive quarter. He’s also struggled in several fourth quarters of recent Knicks losses.

Woodson said on Friday that he will try to be judicious with Anthony’s minutes when the Knicks are going through a congested portion of their scheduled. Saturday will be New York’s fourth game in five nights.

“Those are the times when you really gotta lock in an try to be open minded and not play him big minutes,” Woodson said. “But when the game's one the line, Melo's gotta be on the floor and I think he understands that.”

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
ReboundsT. Chandler 9.6
AssistsR. Felton 5.6
StealsC. Anthony 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2

NEW YORK CALENDAR