For a franchise as established and respected as the New York Knicks, they've sure gone downhill under Mike Woodson this season. His firing has escalated from a matter of "if" to a matter of "when," and it could come rather soon.
Despite Woodson holding the faith of Knicks owner James Dolan, he may be relieved of his duties sooner than later. Since Dolan expressed his confidence in Woodson a little over a month ago, the Knickerbockers have been an underwhelming 6-11.
Things really started to boil when Woodson opted not to call a timeout against the Washington Wizards when the Knicks were down 102-101 with 6.9 seconds left. Although there were times the team could've (and frankly should've) made some important shots, it is Woodson's responsibility to take over in that situation.
The Knicks coach was already on the hot seat prior to his Christmas game, but he is definitely feeling the heat now.
Although he did well as a player, Woodson has done a lackluster job with the Knicks this season, completely mismanaging their rotation. This team lacks consistency under Woodson, especially when it comes to its starting lineup; the Knicks have five different starting combinations in each of their last five games.
Sure, injuries factored into that, but a constantly changing starting five is no way to get your team in a rhythm.
The Knicks are tied for the third-worst record in the East at 9-19 and were on a nine-game losing streak not too long ago. The Knicks offense has waned drastically from last season, as they've gone from being ranked third in offensive efficiency to 19th in the category.
What makes this situation with Woodson worse is that he actually did a pretty good job his first couple of seasons in New York. He built upon a franchise that Mike D'Antoni left in shambles, even taking them to the playoffs a couple of times.
It's hard to see quite how he got from there to here, but it doesn't make his chances of remaining the head coach of the Knicks any better.
Woodson has also seemed to relinquish the inspiration of and essentially break Iman Shumpert. Shump boasted an average of 11.1 field-goal attempts his rookie season but now, just two years later, is down to a mediocre 5.8. Woodson has shaken the confidence of one of the league's most promising wing players and has him playing scared and indecisively.
His relationships with his other players seem to be crumbling as well, as he got in a shouting match with J.R. Smith earlier this season and, most recently, has had a divide develop between himself and Beno Udrih. He's made a habit of throwing players under the bus, as he's done with Shumpert and Udrih; however, Udrih fired back recently (per Ian Begley, ESPN.com):
I kind of feel like when I do the right thing, it’s not the right thing in some people’s eyes. It’s just tough. It’s easy to point fingers when the team loses. But it comes down to, we are a team, we lose together. No matter who makes a mistake or who doesn’t, it’s still a team loss. So I think all of this stuff should be kept out of the media and not call certain people out or something. We’ve just got to go out there and fix it and watch video and fix it as a team.
It's clear Woodson is just no good to the Knicks anymore. He has undone all the good things he did in the beginning of his tenure as New York's coach, and he is more poisonous to this team than anything right now.
The season is still young, and the Knicks still have a shot to make the playoffs. It will be crucial for them to let go of Woodson in order to change the team's culture and get back on track.
They're just a few games back from the last spot in the East, so they're very much alive and aren't in too big of a hole to turn things around. They have the players necessary to make another playoff run, but they will need to move on without Woodson if they want a legitimate chance to make it to the postseason.