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Knicks coach Woodson says he’s not worried about job security, won’t look over his shoulder

Nov 6, 2013, 8:13 PM EDT

Mike Woodson, Carmelo Anthony AP

The Knicks are off to a slow 1-3 start to the season, and despite the very legitimate reasons for the early losses, a team that finished second in the Eastern Conference a year ago isn’t expected to be patient while things sort themselves out.

Mike Woodson is finding his seat to be a bit warm just a couple of weeks into the season, and the loss of defensive anchor Tyson Chandler due to injury isn’t likely to help New York in turning things around anytime soon.

Just four games in, however, Woodson can’t possibly begin to wonder if his job is in jeopardy if he’s going to be able to ride out this early season storm. He said as much during an interview with ESPN Radio on Wednesday, and added that he wouldn’t be coaching with one eye looking over his shoulder.

From Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York:

“I have been at this thing 30 years,” Woodson said in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 radio. “And the one thing I never and will never do is look over my shoulder. I won’t do that. I got too much pride for that. I think what we have done here for the last few years, we made some major ground and some major steps.

“But this is a different year. That team that played and won 54 games is not here. It is my job as a coach to get this team to gel and play at a high level. If I got to always look over my shoulders, then I can’t do my job, so that is why I never do that. Try to look ahead, that is what is staring at me right now.”

Any struggles to this point aren’t exactly Woodson’s fault, as he’s largely been playing the hand he’s been dealt. Starting Andrea Bargnani in favor of Metta World Peace is a decision worth questioning, but the starting lineup hasn’t been the sole contributing factor in the team’s struggles.

Carmelo Anthony has been tentative in fourth quarters, Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin haven’t been physically ready to play, and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in J.R. Smith hasn’t yet seen the court while still serving his five-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy.

Very little of what’s going on in New York right now is Woodson’s fault, and he knows that just four games into the season. Coaching in New York comes with it a very intense spotlight, but Woodson’s straightforward approach and even temperament is well-suited to handle that challenge.

  1. Kevin S. - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Woodson probably doesn’t deserve to be on the hot seat, but neither did Glenn Greenwald, and he got the axe after building the team because his owner A) reads the local chatterboxes, B) is a little trigger happy, and C) is certifiably insane. It doesn’t matter that his one competent big is on the shelf for the first quarter or so of the season, if the Knicks flat start continues, Woody could well be gone. And looking over his shoulder or not, he has to know that.

  2. JHathwell - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Meet the new scapegoat, same as the old scapegoat.

    You must admit there is a certain symmetry about James Dolan, delusional owner of the team with more delusional fans than any other in sports.As much as we all laugh at Dolan’s claims of this being a contender, I guarantee you most Knick fans agreed with him.

  3. csbanter - Nov 7, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    Woodson should be worried Dolan has no problem paying guys to NOT be around the Knicks. Wouldn’t surprise me if Jeff Van Grundy is coaching this team next year.

  4. adamsjohn714 - Nov 7, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    This is the kind of headline you read a week before “Woodson fired after 2-5 start” If Dolan comes out and gives him a vote of confidence, he’s screwed.

  5. nokoolaidcowboy - Nov 7, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Dolan, Dolan, Dolan…it’s too bad owners can’t be cut. I never thought Woodson was the right coach for the Knicks. Especially because the players wanted him.

    If ever there has been an organization that needs a coach to come in with the credentials to kick some butt and get these guys to play right, this is the team.

    So we’re stuck with Dolan “Until death do us part”, and hope that he will bring in a great coach. Not one the players want or that he can puppet master.

  6. marcusfitzhugh - Nov 7, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    The fire is under Steve Mills’ (the GM) seat. After witnessing last year’s playoff run, is it really a surprise that the Knicks need a backup center? Not someone to simply fill the slot in the event of an injury, but someone to give Tyson 15 minutes of rest every night and not give up the lead. K-Mart, Amare and Bargs play the 4.

    Yes, Mills just got the job, but nobody wants to hear that. NY fans are not going to accept losing simply because the center got hurt. There is supposed to be a true, NBA quality, backup center on the bench. Getting him there isn’t Woody’s job, that’s the GM’s job. Tyler has a foot injury and he’s a MONTH away from playing, so it’s time for Aldrich to suit up. If Aldrich can’t do the job, then the GM should be finding someone who can.

    • sportsfan18 - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      Uh… THAT spot went to J.R. Smith’s brother… Sorry.

      • marcusfitzhugh - Nov 7, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Not quite. The Knicks have 15 players on the roster. Chris Smith occupies a “roster spot”, but the Knicks are under no obligation to leave him on the roster.

        An NBA team can send ANY first or second year player to the D-League. The player has to stay there as long as the team wants and can be recalled whenever the team wants. Other than electing to tear up their contract and quit, the player has no say in the matter. If a player has 3 years of experience, they are considered a veteran and the team has to get the player’s consent to send them. Once a player has been sent to the D-League, they are considered inactive and their roster spot can be filled.

        The Knicks currently have five players on the roster with less than 3 years of experience. Any of them, including Chris Smith, can be sent and their spot on the active roster can be filled. Being a GM, Steve Mills knows this.

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