The New York Knicks are finally playing up to expectations. Though the competition of late has been far from stellar, they are riding a season-high six-game winning streak after Saturday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Leave it to head coach Mike Woodson, then, to take this opportunity to tout his job qualifications to incoming Knicks president Phil Jackson. The embattled coach sounded a defiant tone on Saturday morning when asked about the possibility of Jackson cleaning house, per ESPN New York's Ian Begley:
"I don't think I need to prove anything as a coach," Woodson said. "I've never felt that way. I try to do my job the best I can do, and if you're gonna judge me on 16 games, then that's on you."
The comment was the epitome of everything Knicks fans have come to expect from Woodson: arrogance and obliviousness in equal measure.
Does he honestly think that Phil Jackson, a man with decades of coaching experience, will make a critical decision on his new team's coaching position based on 16 games?
More importantly, does he really feel his total body of work this season is worthy of praise? The Knicks have gotten an all-world performance out of star forward Carmelo Anthony, but otherwise they have been a massive disappointment. Even with this current winning streak, they are an extreme long shot to make the postseason.
And Woodson's coaching has been a big part of the problem. Consider the curious case of Andrea Bargnani. Sure, Woodson did not acquire the awkward power forward, but the move certainly fit with his coaching pattern of stubbornly playing big lineups, despite the success of last season's division-winning small-ball squad.
Woodson needlessly shoehorned Bargnani into the starting lineup after the season-opening win over the Bucks—coincidentally, the only time this season New York climbed over the .500 mark. Before getting hurt in a Jan. 22 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Woodson played Bargnani an average of 29.9 minutes per game. During that time, the Knicks' third-ranked offense from 2012-13 fell all the way to 19th.
In the 25 games since the injury, the Knicks rank fourth in offensive efficiency with essentially the same personnel. Now, did Woodson change his coaching style, or did the team simply improve because he had fewer chances to make mistakes with his lineup choices?
Even before the Jackson rumors picked up, B/R's own Dan Favale believed Woodson had no shot at a return stint with New York in 2014-15:
Short of a miracle, he won't be coaching in New York next season. Whatever he says won't resonate. If that weren't the case, the Knicks wouldn't be where they are right now (self-contrived hell).
The only thing that has changed in the interim is that the New York Knicks now employ a president who knows the difference between a good coach and a bad coach. That alone should be enough to spell the end of Mike Woodson's tenure at the Garden.
*All statistics courtesy of NBA Stats.