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Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Is infighting ruining the Knicks?

By Ian Begley



It seems the Knicks' six-game losing streak is taking a toll on the players.

There's been sniping from all corners of the locker room after recent losses. It comes as no surprise; that's what happens when teams start losing. But some of the postgame statements could be construed as a sign of dissension in the locker room.

Maybe that's why Mike Woodson said he was going to have a meeting to air out all grievances on Tuesday, the day before Wednesday's game against the Clippers.

Some of the statements that led up to that meeting?

Amar'e Stoudemire bemoaned the Knicks' lack of ball movement after their loss to the Blazers. He's complained about ball movement several times during the losing streak.

"It's hard for any player to get a good rhythm when the ball don't move," Stoudemire told reporters in Portland. "I have been playing my entire career when the ball moves, and everybody ends up having a career year. When the ball don't move, guys can't get into a rhythm, they don't touch the ball often enough to get into a rhythm, and it makes it tough for the rest of the teammates to have fun out there.

"Right now we are not having fun. And the ball is not moving. We are playing one pass, one shot at this point. Teams that move the ball win. Teams that don't lose. It is pretty simple."

Iman Shumpert echoed those sentiments.

In the past, when players complain about ball movement in the Knicks' locker room, it has been code for Carmelo doesn't pass the ball. In this instance, Stoudemire and Shumpert could have also been referring to J.R. Smith.

Stoudemire, though, insisted to reporters in Los Angeles that he wasn't singling anyone out with his comments. Instead, he said it was a team-wide problem.

Anthony, for what it's worth, doesn't think ball movement is the biggest problem plaguing the team. According to reports, Melo said defense is the bigger issue.

"It’s just defense at this point,” Anthony said. "We’re not guarding nobody. The easiest thing to do, I always say this, is try to point fingers and try to figure out what’s going on ... At the end of the day, it’s the defense. We’re not guarding anybody. We have to figure that part out."

Another issue in the Knicks' locker room is the trade rumors surrounding Shumpert. The rumors appear to have taken a toll on the 2011 first-round pick. Shumpert went scoreless in 23 minutes against Portland on Monday, and, in the seven games prior, Shumpert shot just 36 percent from the field. He averaged just six points in 31 minutes per game. Not good.

And then there's the belief that Woodson doesn't like Shumpert. Woodson was asked about this on Tuesday and angrily denied it, according to reports.

“If I didn’t like him, I don’t think he’d be averaging 30 minutes on my ball club,” Woodson said with a raised voice. “You got to look at that. I like everybody on our team, so that perception is bull---- if you ask me.

“If I didn’t think much of the young man, he wouldn’t be playing. That’s how demanding a coach I am. If I don’t think much of you, you’re not going to play. I’m going to play guys that I like, that I think can help us win, that plays hard and he’s one of those kids. That’s why he’s been a starter on the team ever since he’s been a rookie. So that perception is bulls--- if you ask me.”

With all of these issues swirling and the Knicks in the midst of a six-game losing streak, you have to wonder if these little issues eventually balloon into something bigger.

For what it's worth, Woodson told ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show" that he doesn't think he's lost the team's locker room.

Based on what's being said by players in that locker room of late, it seems like it's an issue worth monitoring.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.