Sources: Some Knicks tired of coach

Updated: February 7, 2014, 1:48 AM ET
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Mike Woodson offered a rough assessment of both himself and the New York Knicks on Thursday.

"This year has been, for me, it's been kind of a disaster from a coaching standpoint in trying to get players to compete and play at a high level," Woodson said in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show."

"That's the frustrating part about it, because I know we're better than what we've shown and we've still got a chance."

The Knicks fell to 11-17 at home with Wednesday night's loss to Portland. At 19-30, they are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 2½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

It isn't where owner James Dolan thought the team would be when he told staffers before the season that he expected the Knicks to compete for a championship.

Woodson's job security has been a hot topic throughout the season. The loss to the Trail Blazers -- the Knicks' third straight -- brought a fresh round of media speculation surrounding his status.

"I can't concern myself with that. I really can't," Woodson told Smith and Ruocco. "It's been out there, it's buzzing. The media, they write it.

"That's not my concern. My concern is coming to work every day with my head held high, trying to figure out how I can get us out of this hole. It's not worrying about if I'm going to have a job tomorrow. I don't live my everyday life thinking about that. My job is thinking about X's and O's and trying to get guys to play at a high level and win games."

Some Knicks players privately have grown tired of Woodson questioning the team's effort after losses, sources told ESPNNewYork.com.

Two league sources said some players expressed their frustration with Woodson to Knicks management after a loss to Brooklyn on Jan. 20.

Dolan, meanwhile, visited the team's locker room after Wednesday's loss and met with Carmelo Anthony and at least one other player, the New York Daily News reported, citing a source. The meeting was to discuss the Knicks' state and whether firing Woodson was necessary, according to the newspaper.

Woodson said Thursday that he remains focused on helping the Knicks make a playoff push in the final 33 games of the regular season.

"At the end of the day, it's my job to get these players to play at a high level and win games," he said. "We've had our ups and downs in that area, but we're still fighting."

[+] EnlargeMike Woodson
Al Bello/Getty ImagesMike Woodson on his job security with the 19-30 Knicks: "I don't live my everyday life thinking about that. My job is thinking about X's and O's and trying to get guys to play at a high level and win games."

J.R. Smith strongly supported Woodson on Thursday.

"I think he's handling it well," the Knicks' guard said. "You know he's in a tough spot. I've played for a few coaches, and one thing about Coach Woodson, he puts everything on himself before anybody. He takes the blame, he takes all the heat and he doesn't mind it. That's what he wants.That's what he expects.

"I think we, as players, we need to start taking some of the heat, because he can't play for us, he can't go out there and grab 10 to 12 rebounds or shoot the ball; that's our job. So we've got to stand up and admit when we're wrong and not playing well, and take the heat."

Smith, though, admitted he's worried Woodson ultimately will take the fall for the Knicks' poor performance.

"Yeah, without a doubt," said Smith, who was benched by Woodson earlier this season for untying opponents' shoelaces and for showing up late to a team meeting. "I think in this situation we as players have to look at ourselves in the mirror and understand that he's doing everything he can for us. It's just a matter of us taking the information and putting it out there on the court. We just have to put it all together as players. Coaches, like I said, they can only do but so much."

Woodson has received two separate votes of confidence from Knicks owner and Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan. Dolan met with the team on Dec. 26, and told it there would be no personnel or coaching changes. Since that meeting, the Knicks have gone 10-11.

Woodson has declined to speak publicly about any support he's received from Knicks management.

"I don't speak on things that go on in-house," he said.

Woodson added that he "loves" coaching the Knicks and remains focused on helping the franchise end its 40-season title-drought.

"I started my career here 34 years ago and never thought I would end up back in New York," he said. "I was granted this opportunity by Mr. Dolan two years ago, and I am trying to fulfill something that hasn't been done here in such a long time."

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