- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: Is Woodson feeling the heat?
For the most part, Mike Woodson’s done a solid job managing injuries and lineups this season. If you need evidence, just look at his team’s 36-21 record and 3 1/2-game lead in the Atlantic Division.
But Woodson’s made a couple of mistakes recently that have cost his team. Just ask him; he’ll tell you all about them.
In an interview Tuesday on ESPN 98.7 FM, Woodson said he should have taken Carmelo Anthony out of Monday’s game before Anthony suffered a knee injury. (Anthony asked to come out of the game before he got hurt.) The knee injury may keep Anthony from the lineup Wednesday against Detroit.
In the same interview, Woodson said he should have played Amar’e Stoudemire late in the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ loss to the Heat. Instead, he left him on the bench as the Knicks’ offense sputtered.
As a reporter, I appreciate that coach’s candor here. I always hope (but I am not naïve enough to expect) that the subjects I cover will be honest. So for Woodson to admit that he made a mistake is both rare and refreshing.
But Woodson’s missteps also make you wonder: Is the coach feeling a little pressure as the Knicks enter a difficult stretch of schedule?
We’ll never know for sure, but maybe the Knicks offense would have been more effective with Stoudemire on the floor down the stretch against Miami.
Also, maybe Melo could have avoided further injury if Woodson subbed him out when he requested to come out of the game.
“You live and you learn and I learned from it,” Woodson said of keeping Stoudemire on the bench against Miami.
Here’s something else to consider when thinking about the coach's performance: Woodson admitted Tuesday that he is still trying to figure out his most optimal rotations.
Injuries have no doubt impacted Woodson’s ability to establish a true rotation. But Iman Shumpert and Amar’e Stoudemire have been back for more than a month, so you’d think things could be a bit more settled.
Here’s what Woodson had to say about it on Tuesday:
“I’m still learning, as a coach, this group of guys because we are so new and haven’t been around each other very long,” Woodson said on “The Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco Show.” “There’s six, seven new faces on this team. Everybody thinks it’s supposed to click right now. And I’m a realist. If you look at Miami’s situation, it took them a few years to get where they are. We’re trying to jam everything into three, four months … coming out of (training) camp and it’s not easy. I’m still trying to juggle and try to figure out rotations and things of that nature.”
As a Knicks fan, does it worry you that Woodson’s still figuring out his rotations, or do you excuse that because of the Knicks' injury issues? Does it bother you that Stoudemire wasn’t on the floor on Sunday after the coach admitted he should be? What about Melo’s injury? Do you put that on Woodson?
Most importantly, do the coach’s recent missteps lead you to believe that he’s starting to feel the heat? Or do you trust that he’s guiding things with a steady hand?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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5dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann