Carmelo: Heat should be on players

Updated: December 3, 2013, 8:38 PM ET
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is starting to worry about coach Mike Woodson's job security.

"Yeah, we're worried about that. But then again, we've got to worry about playing basketball, man," Anthony said after Tuesday's practice. "I think that's been a problem in New York all this time. Everybody worries about what's being said on the outside. As a team, we've got to stick together. We've got to control our locker room. We've got to control what happens on the basketball court.

[+] EnlargeMike Woodson and Carmelo Anthony
AP Photo/Mary AltafferCarmelo Anthony and other Knicks players say they are concerned that their 3-13 start to the season could cost coach Mike Woodson his job.

"We can't worry about the speculation that's going on outside this building and we shouldn't," Anthony added. "And as a leader of this team, I'll try my best not to allow that."

The Knicks (3-13) have lost nine straight games and are tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the worst record in the NBA.

The awful start certainly is not what owner James Dolan envisioned. Dolan said earlier in the season that he expects the Knicks to compete for a championship. Instead, they have lost seven straight at Madison Square Garden, tying a franchise record.

Dolan recently gave Woodson a public vote of confidence. A loss to the rival Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, however, certainly would turn up the volume of criticism in the direction of Woodson.

"Welcome to New York. It happens," Anthony said. "I mean, anytime you're in a situation like this, people try to figure out what's next. Right now [the speculation is about Woodson's job status]. Yesterday it might have been me. Tomorrow might be me. We've got to deal with that. We can't worry about that. Only thing we can control is what happens in here on the basketball court and go from there. As far as anything else that's being said, we can't control that."

Anthony offered support for Woodson by saying the Knicks can turn things around by "playing hard, sticking to the game plan and doing what Coach Woodson says to do out there on the basketball court."

Last year, Woodson guided the Knicks to a 54-win regular season and their first playoff series win in 13 years. Knicks president and general manager Steve Mills exercised the 2014-15 option on Woodson's contract prior to training camp.

For what it's worth, the coach believes his players maintain confidence in him.

On Tuesday, veteran forward Kenyon Martin said he and his teammates, not Woodson, were at fault for the team's poor start.

"The man does an excellent job with us. It's not on him," Martin said. " ... We're prepared each and every day. He puts us in the best situation, [with] the best scouting report and everything to go out and perform. We're just not getting it done on the court, so it's on us."

Woodson has been criticized for not settling on regular rotations early in the season. Through Monday's games, the Knicks ranked 23rd in offensive efficiency, a measure of points scored per 100 possessions. They rank 27th in defensive efficiency.

To be fair, injuries have factored into the team's problems. Starting center Tyson Chandler has been out since Nov. 5 with a broken leg and isn't expected to return for at least another 10 days, and point guard Raymond Felton has been slowed by a hip injury.

Publicly, Woodson hasn't used the Knicks' injuries as an excuse and did not want to address his job status when asked about it Tuesday.

"It's not about me," he said. "I'm trying to do the best I can do in terms of getting us out of this slump, and we have to focus on Brooklyn. That's the next game up."

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

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