The Knicks are not rebuilding, they just have the record of a rebuilding team.
At the start of the season the Knicks thought they were the 54-win team of last season, which made the second round of the playoffs; instead they are 19-29 and two games back of the last playoff spot in the lowly East. Injuries are part of that (management built a team that cannot win without Tyson Chandler), but also they aren’t taking or making as many threes, they aren’t shooting as well overall, their point-guard play has been down, and the offense is no longer covering up a defense that was never all that strong to begin with.
That’s not all coach Mike Woodson’s fault, but he is far from blameless in this mess (he only went to the small lineup of Carmelo Anthony at the four because injuries forced him to).
Which has led to a ton of speculation early in the season Woodson was in trouble — rumors owner James Dolan has tried to shoot down. However the Knicks have traded away future assets to be good now and when that goes poorly the coach is always on the hot seat.
Now comes the latest speculation that Mike Woodson could be let go by the Feb. 20 trade deadline, via Steve Popper of the Bergin Record.
With the trade deadline looming and no reason to tank — already sending their first-round pick away in the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony — the Knicks are desperate to make a playoff push.
Their options for a deal are slim and with Anthony a free agent at season’s end, the Knicks will try to provide enough hope and optimism to keep him in town.
That leaves a coaching change as the other impetus for a late run. Players seemed to have distanced themselves from Woodson — and Stoudemire seems the latest to lose faith.
Understand that is speculation, not even a sourced report. So take it for what it’s worth.
From the outside it seems Woodson has lost the locker room — players’ defense of him seems tepid at this point. And if the idea is that a coaching change can shake up a team and put them on run, we’ve seen that before. It does work.
The big question is: who do they get to replace Woodson?
For the rest of this season an assistant could be promoted or Alan Houston could come down out of the front office, and maybe that provides a little bump this season. But that is not the long-term answer.
The name coaches the Knicks would want — Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Van Gundy, George Karl and the like — will demand a level of control over the roster Knicks management is not willing to surrender. Despite the money and prestige, those guys see the roster, see the organization and will be hesitant to step into the muck.
There are not a lot of good long-term options for the coaching spot lined up for New York.
Firing Woodson could provide a short-term boost, but the long-term issues with this organization remain. And they’re issues not only a new coach would ask about, they’re ones Carmelo Anthony will ask about this summer.