The Knicks are off to a slow 1-3 start to the season, and despite the very legitimate reasons for the early losses, a team that finished second in the Eastern Conference a year ago isn’t expected to be patient while things sort themselves out.
Mike Woodson is finding his seat to be a bit warm just a couple of weeks into the season, and the loss of defensive anchor Tyson Chandler due to injury isn’t likely to help New York in turning things around anytime soon.
Just four games in, however, Woodson can’t possibly begin to wonder if his job is in jeopardy if he’s going to be able to ride out this early season storm. He said as much during an interview with ESPN Radio on Wednesday, and added that he wouldn’t be coaching with one eye looking over his shoulder.
“I have been at this thing 30 years,” Woodson said in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 radio. “And the one thing I never and will never do is look over my shoulder. I won’t do that. I got too much pride for that. I think what we have done here for the last few years, we made some major ground and some major steps.
“But this is a different year. That team that played and won 54 games is not here. It is my job as a coach to get this team to gel and play at a high level. If I got to always look over my shoulders, then I can’t do my job, so that is why I never do that. Try to look ahead, that is what is staring at me right now.”
Any struggles to this point aren’t exactly Woodson’s fault, as he’s largely been playing the hand he’s been dealt. Starting Andrea Bargnani in favor of Metta World Peace is a decision worth questioning, but the starting lineup hasn’t been the sole contributing factor in the team’s struggles.
Carmelo Anthony has been tentative in fourth quarters, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin haven’t been physically ready to play, and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in J.R. Smith hasn’t yet seen the court while still serving his five-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy.
Very little of what’s going on in New York right now is Woodson’s fault, and he knows that just four games into the season. Coaching in New York comes with it a very intense spotlight, but Woodson’s straightforward approach and even temperament is well-suited to handle that challenge.