|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
NEW YORK -- Before what could be his final game as the New York Knicks ' coach, Mike Woodson maintained that he is the "only guy" for the job.
"Am I the guy for the job? I'm the only guy for this job. I've always said that. And I don't mean that in a braggadocious way. I feel good about what I do as a coach," Woodson said before the Knicks' final regular season game against Toronto. "I know the system works. Unfortunately, this season we've had some bad luck, some bad breaks along the way."
|If Phil Jackson fires Mike Woodson, the new Knicks president is expected to bring in a coach with whom he has had a previous relationship.|
Owner James Dolan told staffers on the eve of the season that he felt the Knicks could compete for an NBA title.
They've fallen well short of those expectations.
New York started the season 3-13, suffered through losing streaks of nine and seven games and fell as many as 19 games below .500. They won 12 of 15 games in March and early April to climb back into the playoff race but were eliminated late last week, missing out on the postseason for the first time in four seasons.
The Knicks' subpar performance has led to widespread speculation about Woodson's job status.
The coach was asked on Wednesday if he thought it would be fair if he lost his job in light of the Knicks' failures this season.
"What's fair? ... I was given an opportunity two years ago to take over a team that was struggling and I made the most of it. Unfortunately this year just didn't go according to plan," said Woodson, who is under contract for 2014-15. "Is it fair to let me go? I don't think so. Again, I don't make that decision. That's got to come from the top."
If new president Phil Jackson fires Woodson, Jackson is expected to bring in a coach with whom he has a previous relationship. He's also expected to hire a coach with an intimate knowledge of the triangle offense.
Steve Kerr is a possible candidate.
Jackson also could bring in more veterans he's familiar with, such as 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."
Woodson has coached the Knicks for the past two seasons after taking over as an interim in 2011 following Mike D'Antoni's resignation. Woodson guided the Knicks to a 54-win regular season and a division title in 2012-13. The Knicks also won a playoff series for the first time in 13 seasons under Woodson's stewardship.
The coach was asked on Wednesday whether his success in 2012-13 should play a role in the team's decision on his future.
"I'm not sitting here begging to say, 'Hey that should play a major role in me staying here.' I can't make that decision.That's got to come from the top," Woodson said. "I'm pleased and happy to be given this opportunity and if they bring me back, I'm going to make damn sure that this doesn't happen again next season."
New York's win percentage dropped from .659 last season to .444 this season entering play Wednesday for the fifth-largest dip in the NBA this season. Several players in the Knicks' regular rotation missed time due to injuries.
Amar'e Stoudemire said Wednesday the team also failed to "buy in" to Woodson's system.
"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," Stoudemire said. "So, going forward into next year, whatever the strategy is, we got to buy into it from the beginning."
Woodson has not yet spoken to the Knicks' upper management about his status for next season.
"I hope (to) soon," Woodson said. "I think it's been enough said about my job all year with you guys. Hopefully, soon I'll know my destination in terms of where I'm going to be."
Woodson has had "little chats" with Jackson since the 13-time NBA champion took over as Knicks president in March.
"But the big chat is going to my job security and where I'm going to be. That eventually will come, I'm sure," Woodson said.
The 54-year-old Woodson made it clear on Wednesday that he understands coaches ultimately take the blame when a team plays below expectations.
"That's just the nature of our sport. It's like that it any sport. Should it be that way? Maybe not. But what are you going to do about it?" he said. "You've got to continue to do your job while you're doing it. When you're services are no longer needed, you've got to move on and pick up the pieces and regroup and try it somewhere else."
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk was used in this report.