Is Mike Woodson Facing a Do-or-Die Season with NY Knicks in 2013-14?

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIIJune 16, 2013

In his first two seasons as head coach of the New York Knicks, Mike Woodson was historically successful, but the pressure is still on as he heads into year three.

Woody finished third in Coach of the Year voting this season, behind George Karl and Erik Spoelstra.

He also led the Knicks to their first Atlantic Division title in over a decade, and has overseen Tyson Chandler winning the Defensive Player of the Year, and J.R. Smith winning the Sixth Man of the Year during his reign as head coach.

Overall, Woodson's first couple of years with the Knicks have been outstanding. The team has posted a 72-34 record since he took over late in the 2011-12 season, which is the best start any Knicks coach has ever had.

Still, the Knicks were disappointing in the playoffs this season, and Woodson took a lot of blame for the team's struggles. His rotations were questionable, and the offensive game plan seemed non-existent, with heavy isolation basketball being the focus of the attack.

Despite what he showed us in the regular season, Chris Copeland barely played, while J.R. Smith continued to shoot the team out of games. Meanwhile, the hot hand of Raymond Felton was rarely used down the stretch, leading New York to lose a number of close games.

Though Woodson's win-loss record is truly outstanding, we saw flashes last season of why the Atlanta Hawks were so happy to let him go. He's great for accountability, but his flaws are very noticeable when the team is under pressure.

At times, Woodson is simply too stubborn, and if that continues, New York could be heading for the same fate that Atlanta faced. The Hawks failed to get out of the second round for six straight years, and the Knicks don't want to be stuck in that same limbo as a fringe title-contender.

Heading into the 2013-14 season, Woodson has just one year left on his contract, and it's almost certain that he's going to be returning this year.

If the Knicks fail to improve on last year's second-round exit, however, this could be it for Woodson, making it a do-or-die season for the rugged coach.

After all he did this year—fighting through injuries and overseeing career years for multiple players—it's hard to justify Woodson losing his job now, but it's not too far-fetched for him to be axed after the 2013-14 season.

We all know the Knicks lack flexibility as a taxpaying team, and a change at head coach may be one of the few ways they can make a major change. Bringing in someone like Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan or Jeff Van Gundy could take New York to the next level, and the front office would be wise to weigh all their options when the time comes.

Knowing who's out there without a job, the pressure is definitely on for Woodson. This is a win-now team, and if his stubbornness holds the Knicks back, New York will likely have no qualms with bringing in a bigger-name head coach,

For the time being, however, Woodson deserves the benefit of the doubt. The players love him, and considering all the new signings the team had last year, it's impressive that chemistry was as strong as it was.

Woodson has obviously earned the chance for another year as head coach, and the likelihood is that his contract will be extended afterward. He has improved his record every single year of his coaching career, and we could see the same outcome next season.

New York is keeping its options open by not giving Woody an extension right now, and rightly so. There are plenty of intriguing options out there if he can't get the job done.

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