New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith gave embattled coach Mike Woodson a show of support following New York's 117-90 win over the Denver Nuggets. And he is almost certain his teammates feel the same way.
Per ESPN New York's Ian Begley: "Yeah, I believe so. It’s kind of hard to tell. Of course, nobody wants to show their whole hand. I think guys really care about him. I think guys care about this team, care about winning."
Smith is definitely right about one thing: Guys care about winning. It's pretty important to just about every athlete, professional or otherwise.
But the Knicks haven't been doing much winning this season under Woodson—Friday's win raised their record to 20-30. Despite carrying one of the league's highest payrolls, New York is still 1.5 games behind the Charlotte Bobcats for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
As for the other part—caring about Woodson—it is almost guaranteed that there are a few Knicks who flat-out do not like him. Woodson has feuded with multiple players during the 2013-14 season.
His most public critic has been reserve point guard Beno Udrih, who laced into the coach after Woodson blamed him for the Knicks' troubles in late December, per NorthJersey.com's Steve Popper:
Beno doesn't sound thrilled with absorbing blame from Woodson: "Don't just be a coach, be a person."— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) December 25, 2013
Less public (though more critical) has been the coach's reported beef with starting combo guard Iman Shumpert. The third-year player, who was once seen as a major piece of the franchise's future, has struggled mightily this season amid rumors that he has been clashing with Woodson.
The New York Post's Marc Berman wrote a well-publicized piece on their fractured relationship during November, when Shumpert was rumored to be on the trading block. Per Berman:
Woodson has had a problem with Shumpert’s cocksure attitude for some time, and according to a source, some of his superiors view the Georgia Tech product as “a head case’’ because he always doesn’t take coaching well.
Per Begley, star forward Carmelo Anthony said earlier in the week that New York's coaching situation was out of his hands. But Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported on Thursday that Anthony met with Knicks owner James Dolan to discuss Woodson's job status, so Knicks fans aren't quite sure what to believe on that front.
Regardless of what Anthony actually believes, it is likely that Woodson does not enjoy 100 percent support in the New York clubhouse. He has made his share of enemies this season, but more importantly, he's lost a lot of games. If he is fired, it will be the losses and not the relationships that are to blame.