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Report: James Dolan Stopped Steve Mills from Firing Mike Woodson

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Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIApril 11, 2014

New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson has been firmly planted on the coaching hot seat throughout 2013-14, but his job security to this point can be tied to owner James Dolan.

Although the Knicks' notorious owner has “willingly and gratefully” surrendered the reins to newly minted president of basketball operations Phil Jackson, per Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News, he reportedly overruled general manager Steve Mills’ desire to relieve Woodson of his coaching duties.

Per Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: "Mills, according to a source, was prepared to make a coaching change on several occasions but didn’t either because the Knicks went on a winning streak or because he was overruled by Garden chairman James Dolan."

Woodson led the Knicks to an 18-6 record after taking over for Mike D’Antoni during the 2011-12 season. NY’s basketball success continued last season to the tune of a 54-win campaign, but the Knicks eventually fell to the Indiana Pacers, 4-2, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Chuck Burton

Now, at 33-45, the Knicks are fighting just to earn a playoff berth. They’re two games back of the eighth-seed Atlanta Hawks with four games to play.

Firing Woodson would have caused a major shakeup within the organization, but there’s a chance that personnel move could have triggered a turnaround in New York—much like the one Woodson himself sparked two seasons ago.

According to Isola, however, Mills was not provided the authority to make that decision under the team’s owner. Dolan claims that Jackson will be responsible for all the basketball decisions moving forward, and whether or not that blueprint includes Mills is up for debate.

Mills hasn’t been part of the big picture for long, having replaced executive vice president and general manager Glen Grunwald in September. Despite that, Mills believes he can work well beside Jackson, per Isola: "We’re going to have the relationships in place with players and agents, and you couple that with Phil’s credibility from a championship standpoint and coaching and what he’s done to build teams, I think together we can do something special."

Jackson may ultimately decide to bring in his own personal choice as GM, but that decision will have to wait until what will be a busy 2014 offseason. At this juncture, the top priority for Jackson and Co. is re-signing All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony. Without him, the Knicks will be faced with a long and painful rebuilding process.

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