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.”