The Knicks are looking increasingly frustrated. It starts with their star, Carmelo Anthony, frequently complaining to officials and trickles down to the rest of the players.
Sometimes, issues like that are self-contained among the players. But other times, it’s the sign of larger discord – players lashing out in rebellion of a coach they no longer trust to corral them.
Which is the case in New York?
The man whose job depends on the answer gives the expected response. Knicks coach Mike Woodson, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com:
“I don’t think I have lost the locker room,” Woodson said during his weekly spot on “The Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco Show” on ESPN New York 98.7. “I don’t think I have lost players from an individual standpoint. What I have lost is a Tyson Chandler and a Raymond Felton, that is what I have lost from my starting team.
“And I don’t know if you can go on any roster and take two starters out of their roster and they still survive,” Woodson added. “They might play in spurts like we are doing today. I am not making excuses, but I would sure love to take my chances with Tyson and Raymond in my lineup.”
Woodson is correct that the Knicks’ talent problems, both due to injury and not, trump any issues with him connecting to players. But those two often go hand-in-hands, especially on a team team that, from the top down, has unreasonably high expectations.
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Losing exasperates small problems. Players who might bite their tongue if they disagree with Woodson are more likely to speak out now, and that would only fuel wider distrust.
If Woodson has the locker room, he’s holding on by a thread, because that’s true of everyone coaching a team that is falling so far short of its goals.