Knicks coach Woodson says he’s not worried about job security, won’t look over his shoulder

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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.

From Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York:

“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.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.