- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let's get one thing straight from the top here: I don't think Mike Woodson deserves to be fired for the Knicks' slow start. There are too many factors beyond his control that are contributing to the Knicks' struggles.
And if this were almost any other NBA team, there wouldn't be any reason to discuss the coach's job security 10 games into the season. Particularly when said coach is coming off of a 54-win season and is a few months removed from leading the team to its first playoff series win in 13 years.
But things are different with the Knicks. Owner James Dolan is impatient and prone to making decisions based on his emotions when it comes to personnel (see Donnie Walsh, Glen Grunwald). And he expects to win a championship this season.
So if New York loses to Indiana tonight to fall to 3-8, behind the Brooklyn Nets in the Atlantic Division, no one would be particularly surprised if Dolan woke up Thursday morning and decided he wanted to make a coaching change.
With that in mind, here a few guys who could take over should Dolan decide to fire Woodson:
Darrell Walker: The Knicks assistant coach would be the most likely/logical candidate to take over on an interim basis if Woodson is let go. He has two years of head-coaching experience and seems to be well-respected in the locker room. Another potential interim candidate is assistant Jim Todd. Like Walker, Todd seems to be a respected voice among players. It should be noted that both Walker and Todd are fiercely loyal to Woodson, so the Knicks may turn to Herb Williams to run the team as an interim head coach.
Lionel Hollins: Hollins led Memphis to 56 wins last season and was dumped due in part to philosophical differences with his bosses. Many were surprised that he wasn't hired by one of the teams looking for a coach in the offseason. If the Knicks wanted to make a permanent hire in the middle of the season (unlikely), Hollins would be a great candidate. But any coach hired on a permanent basis will likely need a seal of approval from Carmelo Anthony.
Jeff Van Gundy: The ESPN analyst's exit from the team was messy in 2001. But he had a successful run in his seven-season stint in New York, going 248-172. That's the second-highest winning percentage in Knicks history. The guess here, though, is that Van Gundy is enjoying his gig as an analyst and wouldn't be interested in taking the bench in the middle of a season. Maybe he'd be more open to the job in the offseason?
Phil Jackson: Retired since 2011, Jackson has turned down several offers to return to coaching since. What makes you think he'd want to coach these Knicks? Don't forget, he called the pairing of Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony "clumsy" in a 2012 interview.
Jerry Sloan: Could the Knicks convince the Utah Jazz legend to come out of retirement and try to turn things around in New York? Probably not. But there's one factor in their favor here: Sloan could be intrigued by the possibility of battling old nemesis Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets.
Isiah Thomas: Yes, we went there. And don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility, either. Thomas didn't have success running or coaching the Knicks in his first run in New York, but he remains close to several in the organization, including Dolan.
Question: If the Knicks fire Woodson, who would you like to see replace him?
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