Nine straight losses have the Knicks tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for last place in a weak Eastern Conference, and owner James Dolan's patience is wearing thin. And when his resolve is tested, everyone around him usually loses.
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.
No surprises here. When the going gets tough, Dolan gets unhappy; when he gets unhappy, people lose their jobs.
New York's losing streak is its longest since the 2005-06 season, when the team won just 23 games. Fearing the Knicks may fall out of playoff contention, Dolan will do something. It's not a question of if; it's a matter of when? And who?
Iman Shumpert has been dangled as trade bait in numerous proposals, according to the New York Daily News' Frank Isola, so he could be the first to exit stage left as well. You never quite know with Dolan. This is the same guy who expressed (conditional) support for his head coach just a couple of weeks ago.
Speaking with the Post's Mike Vaccaro, Dolan exuded confidence in his current head coach, praising the work he's done and endorsing his continued presence.
"I have a lot of confidence in Woodson, and one thing I can say about Mike is he has the respect of all the players," he told Vaccaro. "They all respect him. And he treats them fairly and relatively equally, and that’s part of where the respect emanates from."
That doesn't read like an owner prepared to can his coach anytime soon. Then again, this is Dolan we're talking about. These are the 3-13 Knicks we're discussing. Anything is possible.
Who will be the first to go for the Knicks?
Not to mention strings were attached to Dolan's appreciation. While raving about the job Woodson's done, he also laid the groundwork for his departure.
"When a coach loses a team, that’s when a coach is kind of done," Dolan explained to Vaccaro.
Nine consecutive losses commingled with reports of in-fighting from Berman and ESPN New York's Ian Begley suggest that Woodson has lost these Knicks. As Carmelo Anthony said, via Begley, the Knicks are currently "playing to lose."
If that's the case, and Dolan's ax finds Woodson's head, Berman says the organization will consider Jeff Van Gundy for the job. But the idea of Van Gundy, who previously coached the Knicks for almost seven seasons, rejoining the very dysfunction he fled is comical.
Rooting for the sad, sorry Knicks can be exhausting, and fans are in need of a good laugh, but not like this. What they need, what the Knicks really need, are answers.
Decisions must be made soon, no matter what they are. The Knicks cannot stay in limbo forever. Not if they wish to escape the early-season purgatory they've created for themselves.