James Dolan Allegedly Mulled Mike Woodson's Fate with Carmelo Anthony

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2014

New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson, left, gives Carmelo Anthony instruction in the second half of Game 2 of their NBA basketball playoff series in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden in New York, Tuesday, May 7, 2013. The Knicks won 105-79. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson's seat is apparently so fiery that owner James Dolan and Carmelo Anthony reportedly borrowed it for a game of hot potato.

According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the two most powerful men in the franchise met recently to discuss the direction of this team and whether Woodson is the right man to lead it:

James Dolan’s visit to the Knicks’ locker room late Wednesday included a high-level meeting with Carmelo Anthony and at least one other player to discuss the state of the club and whether a coaching change is necessary, the Daily News has learned.

According to a team source, Dolan is obviously troubled by the Knicks’ 19-30 record and is contemplating removing head coach Mike Woodson. The Knick hierarchy is divided on whether Woodson has lost the locker room and the chairman of Madison Square Garden was wise to take the temperature of the franchise player. Dolan, though, also runs the risk of alienating Anthony if the public perception is that the All-Star forward, who is extremely sensitive to the notion that he is a “coach killer,” is at all responsible for running Woodson out of town.

After ripping off 54 wins last season, the Knicks are on pace for only 33, according to John Hollinger's ESPN playoff odds. Losers of three straight, New York sits 2.5 games outside of the playoff picture in a watered-down Eastern Conference.

One league source told NorthJersey.com's Steve Popper recently that Woodson "could be removed before the Feb. 20 trade deadline." Now that conversations of his fate have moved from the public forum into the team's locker room, he may be lucky if he lasts that long.

The Knicks are far removed from relevance and have yet to show the motor needed to make up that distance. "The next attempt at jumpstarting could be firing the coach," CBS Sports' Royce Young wrote.

New York's diminishing returns might not even be the biggest threat to Woodson's future. Reports that he's lost the locker room could prove far more damaging.

"Some Knicks players privately have grown tired of Woodson questioning the team's effort after losses," sources told ESPN New York's Ian Begley. "Two league sources said some players expressed their frustration with Woodson to Knicks management after a loss to Brooklyn on Jan. 20."

Dolan reportedly entered this season with championship-or-bust thoughts, via ESPN New York's Ian Begley, even though Woodson was overseeing a second-round-if-we're-lucky roster. Now it's hard to see how much authority the coach holds over that group with the players getting an intimate glimpse at the rocky ground Woodson's standing on.

The seams are coming apart at a time when New York needs all hands on deck.

With so much ground left to gain, the Knicks can ill afford to have players taking themselves out of the race. Not only would that thwart their efforts to make any type of playoff noise, but its ramifications could even extend to Anthony's impending decision in free agency.

The Knicks don't have the assets needed to improve the supporting cast around Melo, so they're avenues to please their superstar are limited. One of the few things they can do, though, is send Woodson packing and pursue a coach of Anthony's choosing.

Anthony has been adamant his "only concern is winning," according to Isola. With the 15th-ranked offense (103.7 points per 100 possessions) and the 23rd-ranked defense (105.8 points allowed per 100 possessions), the Knicks aren't exactly racking up the victories.

Melo's individual numbers are once again staggering (27.3 points, 8.7 rebounds), but his superstar stock isn't growing. New York's collective collapse around him hasn't helped him shake the perception that he leaves a bigger imprint on the stat sheets than on the standings.

If Dolan or Anthony feel Woodson has played a role in these struggles, the coach could be blazing the unemployment trail in no time.


Statistics used courtesy of NBA.com.