Report: Mike Woodson’s seat in New York getting hot (but Jeff Van Gundy is not taking job)

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With the Knicks tied for the worst record in the East, on a nine-game losing streak, with infighting starting to bubble to the surface, and an owner who thought this team would be a contender at the start of the season, you would expect coach Mike Woodson’s seat to be getting hot.

It is, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.

The expiration date on owner James Dolan’s recent vote of confidence for coach Mike Woodson is approaching, according to sources.

While Woodson will coach the Knicks when they play the Nets on Thursday, it is unclear how much longer Dolan will allow this losing streak to go on. It has reached nine straight defeats and the team’s mental instability has become an issue. Dolan is obsessed with the Brooklyn franchise and a blowout loss could trigger changes — whether via trade or a coaching move.

That somebody leaked this to the Post suggests a shot across the bow of Woodson from ownership.

Woodson hasn’t been fired yet for a couple of reasons. One, this isn’t all his fault. I don’t love how he prepared the meal but he isn’t the guy who went shopping and bought this terrible mix of ingredients without thinking about how they go together. Look at it this way: New York’s front office compiled a team that requires a healthy Tyson Chandler to be competitive. That’s not smart and it’s not on the coach. Second, Dolan is a contrarian by nature. If people tell him to do one thing, he tends to want to do the opposite. People in New York want Woodson’s head, Dolan backs his man.

However Dolan is frustrated and unpredictable, so Woodson should be concerned. Dolan can’t fire the players and has already changed GMs, he sees a season like this making it harder to keep Carmelo Anthony, and Woodson is the next logical scapegoat.

Fire Woodson and you have another question: Who takes over as coach?

Here is what Berman wrote at the Post.

The Post has also learned that if Dolan eventually makes a move, old enemy and ex-Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy would not be ruled out as a future candidate — though such a hire seems more sensible in the offseason if Dolan goes with an interim coach.

Um… no. That’s not happening. Zero chance it happens midseason and little chance it happens in the offseason. As part of the always entertaining New York media infighting, Frank Isola shot down the JVG rumors quickly.

You know who the Knicks will go after as coach if Woodson is fired? Whoever Carmelo Anthony wants.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.