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.
“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:
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.
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