Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Woody: No in-depth talks with Phil ... yet
By Jovan Buha | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
LOS ANGELES -- New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson can feel the excitement that Knicks president Phil Jackson has brought to New York.
He just hasn’t had a chance to experience it yet.
Woodson fielded questions about Jackson’s arrival before New York’s matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, and admitted that the two have yet to sit down and have a serious conversation about the direction of the team.
“No, not yet,” Woodson said of speaking with Jackson. “I’m sure that will come eventually. But right now, our focus has been really trying to stay the course with our ballclub and see if we can get them in the playoffs.”
Jackson, who attended the Knicks’ shootaround at Staples Center on Tuesday morning and had a brief conversation with Carmelo Anthony, simply strolled into the arena, watched practice for a bit and didn’t say much, according to Woodson.
Despite rampant speculation that Woodson’s job is in jeopardy after the season, the Knicks coach said he is not worried that the new management change will have any effect on his position.
“In Atlanta I was part of a change,” Woodson said. “It happens in our sport. Until I’m able to sit down with Phil and see the direction he wants to go, all I can do is coach our team and try to do the best job I can do.”
Doing the best job he can entails beating the Lakers, as the Knicks (29-41) cannot afford to lose to another sub.-500 team if they’re serious about sneaking into the playoffs.
With the Atlanta Hawks losing Monday to Phoenix, the Knicks are only 2 1/2 games back of the eighth and final playoff seed. To make up more ground on Atlanta, they can likely lose only one game on their five-game West Coast road trip, which is a daunting -- but not impossible -- task.
In the meantime, Woodson is happy to add the winning ways of the Zen Master -- a 13-time champion in his playing and coaching career -- to the Knicks’ culture.
“I think anytime you bring a guy of Phil’s stature back into the organization -- which is our organization with the Knicks -- a guy who’s played with the Knicks, has won titles with the Knicks as a player, and has dominated the NBA world as a coach winning titles, it can’t do anything but help our organization moving forward,” Woodson said.
“I know Phil’s excited about it, and we’re all excited to have him.”
Injury updates: After missing Sunday’s loss with an illness, Iman Shumpert is “fine” according to Woodson. He’ll play Tuesday and have his minutes monitored.
Andrea Bargnani is running, but has not been cleared by team doctors to participate in physical contact in practice yet. He’s not close to returning.
Woodson also said he hopes Amar'e Stoudemire will be able to play in Wednesday night’s back-to-back in Sacramento against the Kings, adding: “We’ll gauge his minutes tonight and see how he feels. We don’t have a lot of room for errors, so if guys can play, they have to play. That’s the way I’m looking at it. I have to be open-minded to Amar’e, and if he tells me he can’t go tomorrow, then we’ll get him ready for the next game.”