Breaking: The New York Knicks have problems buying into things.
Before the team's season-finale victory over the Toronto Raptors, Amar'e Stoudemire indicated the Knicks never quite got on board with head coach Mike Woodson's system, as per ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk:
I think next year we got to take more of a mindset of trying to master the game. I mean, again, certain strategies were placed upon us with Coach Woodson. There were times when we didn’t quite buy into it and as a result of that, we lost games.
Poor late-game execution defined the Knicks' season. They converted just 27.8 percent of their shots during the final two minutes of games in which they were ahead or behind by no more than three points, according to NBA.com (subscription required). Only the Milwaukee Bucks (26.9 percent) and Denver Nuggets (26.6) performed worse.
Much of New York's late-game follies have been put on Woodson. His play-calling out of timeouts is questionable on good nights. Most of the time, it's downright horrible.
Woodson repeatedly goes to the predictable give-Carmelo-Anthony-the-ball-while-everyone-else-stands-around-and-watches sets that yield little results. It's difficult for players to buy into someone that vanilla.
Not everything can be put on Woodson, though. The Knicks have had trouble buying into systems and coaching ideals in the past.
When Mike D'Antoni resigned in 2012, it was the same story. Stoudemire intimated that D'Antoni was forced out because "everyone wasn’t buying into his system," according to the New York Daily News' Frank Isola.
After coaching the Knicks to only 37 victories one season after they won 54, Woodson may meet a similar fate.
Very few people expect him to be back in New York next season. The thinking is team president Phil Jackson will want to bring in his own people to coach the team, someone whom he trusts, someone who knows the Triangle, yada, yada, yada.
Unlike D'Antoni, Woodson isn't going to resign. He made it clear before New York's victory over Toronto that he remains the man for the job, per MSG Network's Alan Hahn:
Mike Woodson: “Am I the guy for the job? I’m the only guy for the job.” #Knicks— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) April 16, 2014
More Woodson: “If they bring me back, I’m going to make damn sure this kind of season doesn’t happen again.”— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) April 16, 2014
Stubborn, uninventive, archaic coaching philosophies aside, Woodson seems like a good guy. He just may not be the right guy to coach these Knicks. As Bleacher Report's Jim Cavan writes:
Let us begin with a rather colossal caveat: Mike Woodson—New York Knicks head coach, vessel for so much of the rage resulting from his team's train-wreck season—seems like a pretty good dude.
I would be happy to do a number of things with Mike Woodson. Play cards. Talk basketball. Bow-hunt caribou with the Inuit.
I’m just not sure I’d want him coaching the Knicks anymore. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
Buying into systems shouldn't be an issue for players who are generously paid to do just that. If the Knicks were going against Woodson's will—like Tyson Chandler often seemed to be doing on defense—that's on them more than the coach himself.
Tyson Chandler said he doesn't agree with the Knicks defensive game plan and that they don't have the personnel to switch on pick-and-rolls.— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) January 20, 2014
But as we all know, coaches are the ultimate scapegoats. When things go wrong, they're the ones who are held accountable and verbally clobbered. They're the ones who lose their jobs.
Things went oh, so wrong for the Knicks this season. Woodson is their coach.
You know what's coming next.