The bell tolls for thee? Mike Woodson reportedly could get fired by Knicks before trade deadline
In what would ultimately may be the biggest favor the beleaguered New York Knicks head coach has ever received in his lifetime, Mike Woodson reportedly may be pink-slipped by the team sooner rather than later. If what sources are telling New Jersey.com’s Steve Popper prove to be an accurate representation of what’s going on behind the scenes, Woodson could be fired as early as the league’s trade deadline, which is Feb. 20. If he lasts that long.
The Knicks appeared to break out of its early season doldrums for a short time, going on a five-game winning streak in early January. That run was immediately followed up by a five-game losing streak.
The team appeared to right the ship, next going on four-game winning streak to close out January, but the team has found itself mired in yet another funk, dropping two games in a row to start February.
The most recent loss, on Monday to the lowly Milwaukee Bucks, owners of the worst record in the NBA (9-39), seemingly have put the plan to part ways with Woodson on the fast track.
And with the formidable Portland Trail Blazers coming to town, the 19-29 Knicks probably will be handed the team’s 30th loss of the season before walking off the Madison Square Garden hardwood.
Woodson’s comments on Tuesday weren’t the words of a coach exuding confidence.
“When I reviewed the tape, it should never have gotten to that based on how we played. Those are the things that creep in, the little things that hurt you. We missed a lot of free throws [Monday] night you could point the finger at as well,’’ Woodson said, according to the New York Post. “Again, right now we’ve got to play almost perfect basketball to win, and that’s OK. But we’ve got to get that accomplished.
“It wasn’t the case last year obviously. But I don’t think any one of us can sit here and beg and hope that somebody loses. I don’t like coaching like that. I like to control our own destiny. You sit home and hope that Toronto loses, or Brooklyn loses. I mean hell, we’ve just got to worry about ourselves and make it happen for ourselves. Then you sleep better at night.’’
The schizophrenic play has left the Knicks languishing in the Atlantic Division, seven games behind the Toronto Raptors. Meanwhile, the inability to remain consistent has left the Knicks in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 1.5 games behind the Charlotte Bobcats for the eight and final final playoff berth.
Woodson, arguably to his credit, appears to be doing his best to ignore the axe perilously hanging over his head, instead insisting that the team can turn it around.
“If things had gotten off to the way we thought they should have at the beginning of the year we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation,” Woodson said, as quoted in Popper’s column. “Again, we’ve had our struggles. With the injuries and inconsistent play in terms of our different rotations it’s just been a combination of things.
“My job as the coach is to get these guys over the hump. We’re still in position. It’s not like it’s the last week or two weeks of the season where we don’t have a shot in making the playoffs.
“We still have a legitimate shot to make it. Until it’s over I’m going to continue to push guys to understand that come April we want to still be playing basketball, not watching it on TV.”
Whether or not Woodson will be watching playoffs on TV in April remains to be seen. Whether or not it he’ll be doing so — playing or watching — as head coach of the New York Knicks is a different matter entirely. And it seems less and less likely with each losing streak and devastating loss to inferior opponents, something that is surely testing the short supply of patience presumably remaining in owner James Dolan’s faith in Woodson.