New York Knicks: 8 Reasons They'll Regret Keeping Mike Woodson as Head Coach
That whole "who's gonna coach the Knicks?" story that seemed likely to dominate the back pages of the New York tabloids through any sort of protracted coaching search never really materialized.
The Knicks chose instead to stick with what worked this past regular season.
Mike Woodson, the assistant coach who became the interim head coach, is now the official head coach. Signed to a three-year deal Woodson may end up coaching the trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler through the duration of their costly long-term deals.
Was inking Woodson the right move for the Knicks? Only time will tell. That's not to say there aren't opinions aplenty on the issue.
There are some decent reasons why Woodson might have been a good choice, there are better ones why he isn't. Here are eight of them.
The Player's Choice
The story bubbled to the surface back when the Knicks were headed toward a playoff berth and Carmelo Anthony was playing his best basketball of the season.
Carmelo Anthony publicly endorsing Mike Woodson as future coach of the Knicks.
It's not ideal for a star player and a head coach to be embroiled in public feuding as Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy engaged in this past season.
It's also not great if the star and the coach are too buddy-buddy also.
Carmelo Anthony is many things. A great scorer. A go-to guy on the court. He's not as bad a teammate as some have accused him of being. He's also not a general manager or a head coach. In fact he's got zero experience in either role.
The mere perception that Woodson was aided by a Carmelo endorsement could prove troublesome down the road.
Will other players with designs on becoming key parts of the Knicks offense shy away due to a perceived alliance between the star and the coach?
Will current teammates feel like part of a system in which there are separate standards for those not named "Carmelo Anthony"?
The only way to find out is to wait and see.
Let's say you're the type of Knicks fan who thinks that the 24-game sample size from this past season is all the evidence you need to support your theory that Woodson is the right man to lead the Knicks.
If 24 games is all the evidence you need, then his 34-game playoff track record, 29 of which came before he ever was head coach of the Knicks, must be plenty big enough to pass judgement on.
Let's just say it's not impressive.
Woodson has a 12-22 record in the NBA postseason.
That doesn't mean his teams will always fail in the playoffs. It does mean Knicks fans shouldn't have been shocked by the team's 1-4 performance this season. It also means a quick exit next season would merely be right in line with Woodson-led teams performances over the years.
What's the goal for the Knicks? Is it just to merely make the playoffs? If that's the case, then maybe Woodson is the right choice. That seems like a fairly modest goal for a team in the NBA. Isn't the goal a championship? If it is, then there may have been better choices than Mike Woodson.
He's Being Judged off a Small Sample Size
It was only 24 games. That's less than a third of a normal NBA season. The NBA season is usually an 82-game marathon. This past season was a 66-game sprint.
Mike Woodson earned his spot as the head coach of the Knicks by establishing himself under a set of circumstances that won't be replicated over his three-year tenure as head man.
There won't be another lockout shortened, condensed 66-game season in the next three years. There won't be another team operating in an offense completely ill-suited for the personnel on the roster.
Woodson waltzed into a can't-lose set of circumstances. The Knicks were splitting apart at the seams when he arrived. Carmelo was mouthing off to the press about wanting out of New York.
The team was 18-24 and in the midst of an six-game losing streak. If Woodson had arrived and merely brought harmony and a .500 record he'd have been considered a season saving presence.
Instead, Woodson's arrival sparked a period of very impressive basketball.
Next season Woodson won't have the advantage of being the guy who isn't Mike D'Antoni. Instead, he'll just be head coach Mike Woodson. Will that be enough to bring about the same results? We're going to find out.
The Other Options
If you're the Knicks you'd want the best possible coach available to lead the team, correct?
Previous accomplishments are not always accurate indicators of future performance, but they're not awful metrics by which to judge a head coaching candidate.
With both Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson available for work, would either one of these men have been better choices than Mike Woodson?
We won't ever know for sure, but there were reports back in March that suggested Sloan may have interest in an open Knicks job.
The Knicks apparently never even approached Phil Jackson about the job.
Never even approached?
Maybe you think Jackson is overrated as a coach. He's certainly got his detractors, but he also has 11 NBA titles—11! One would think you'd want to kick-the-tires on that type of resume?
Sloan has no rings but his overall record is far better than Woodson's.
Why not at least talk to them?
The team that Mike Woodson coached for the final month-and-a-half of the regular season and into the playoffs is not going to change that dramatically under Woodson's tenure.
The reason is simple: The Knicks are locked in.
Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler are all signed to big money deals and not one of them will be easy to move via trade.
Chandler is one of the league's best defensive big men, but he's not young and his offense is limited. Carmelo is one of the league's best scorers, but he's no bargain contractually speaking and his all-around game is not so exceptional that a team could build a whole franchise around him.
Amar'e Stoudemire is not only paid a ton, but he's got a history of nagging injuries. A back problem that sidelined him for much of the final month of the regular season won't make him more appealing to potential suitors.
To hire Woodson is to subscribe to the belief that he can change these players into something they're not. Does Woodson have that type of resume? Not really.
Making a team previously coached by Mike D'Antoni a better defensive unit isn't an accomplishment, it's an inevitability. Making them into champs? That's a whole other ballgame.
The James Dolan Stamp of Approval
When the Knicks made the decision to hire Mike Woodson the order came from the top.
No, not general manager Glen Grunwald. Think higher.
James L. Dolan, the Chairman of Madison Square Garden.
His hiring record with regards to the Knicks is not worth bragging about. Dolan was responsible for the hiring of Isiah Thomas. Thomas did far more damage to the Knicks franchise than good and, yet, he was able to retain his job for over four years while the Knicks got progressively worse each passing season.
Now Woodson's job is not just to guide the Knicks to victories, it's also to get along with Dolan.
That might work out well for Dolan's ego and it might keep Woodson employed as well but history tells us it doesn't always result in a ton of wins.
What is "206-286?"
That's Woodson's win-loss record in the regular season before becoming head coach of the Knicks.
For six seasons, Woodson was the head man in Atlanta. It's not a lengthy coaching career, but it's an adequate sample size to pass some form of judgement.
That 206-286 record is not good no matter how you cut it. The good news is that Woodson's teams got better every year he was there. The bad news is that it took him four seasons just to get the Hawks over .500. In his fifth season in Atlanta, the Hawks finished with a 47-35 record.
Woodson appears to be a coach that takes some time to figure things out. New York City is not the most patient market in the world. The 18-6 record is truly a small sample. The 206-286 is far more telling.
Injuries Made Woodson's Record an Anomaly
Take a look at the Knicks team that Woodson coached. They were decimated by injuries. Now at first it's easy to give Woodson high praise for that. After all, injuries to key players are tough to overcome. The Knicks did an exceptional job as the regular season concluded.
New York finished over .500, they made the playoffs and even did so as a No. 7 seed, overtaking division rival Philadelphia at the end of April.
That was all done with out Jeremy Lin and Amar'e Stoudemire for considerable amounts of time. No wonder Carmelo Anthony seemed happy about Woodson. There was no one he was forced to share the ball with.
The Knicks team that Woodson won with is not the Knicks team he'll have next season. Assuming that Lin is retained, that core of Lin, Chandler, Stoudemire and Anthony has very little experience playing together as a unit under Woodson. The picture painted in March and April is not the picture that will be unveiled when the 2012-2013 season tips off.
Woodson deserves plenty of credit for stepping into a tough situation and handling it very well. There's a reason some pitchers in baseball always come out of the bullpen, though. If they were destined to be great starters they'd be starting, but they're not.
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