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Rumor: If Woodson is in trouble, look for push to make Calipari next Knicks coach

Nov 21, 2013, 1:06 PM EDT

Texas-Arlington v Kentucky Getty Images

“I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”
—Otter, Animal House

He may well have been talking about James Dolan and the New York Knicks.

However, this is what happens with a 3-8 start in New York — speculation. No doubt that if the Knicks struggles continue there will be some kind of futile and stupid gesture to try and salvage this season — and more importantly keep afloat the team’s dream of keeping Carmelo Anthony around with a new contract. He wants to stay but he’s getting in a lifeboat if he thinks he is on the Titanic.

New York can’t switch GMs, they already did that — Glen Grunwald was out and Steve Mills was in to start the season. The owner isn’t firing himself (no matter how hard Knicks fans wish). Can’t fire the players…

That leaves coach Mike Woodson. He’s been far from perfect (why go away from ‘Melo at the four again?) but he didn’t build this roster, he’s just the guy told to fit the mismatched puzzle pieces together. Still, if there is going to be a fall guy he will be it.

So how do you keep hope alive and keep Carmelo Anthony in Knicks colors?

Hire John Calipari away from Kentucky to replace Woodson.

I know, it’s pretty wild speculation and not likely. Yet Ken Berger lays out a reasonable path for that to happen over at

…anyone can see what’s coming: Mike Woodson gets fired, company man Herb Williams becomes the interim coach and the drumbeat begins in the background for John Calipari to make his long-awaited return to the NBA.

You don’t have to be an NBA executive to see that coming, but I asked some, and they see it, too. The payroll is maxed out through next season, the tools for tax teams to acquire players in sign-and-trades next summer are gone and it’s not like the Knicks can sell anyone on a fallback plan of reloading with a lottery pick in the coveted 2014 draft. The Knicks’ pick goes to Denver (from the Anthony trade) or to Orlando (if it’s worse than the Nuggets’ pick)….

You can only sell success or hope in the NBA, and if the Knicks don’t find a path to winning soon, they’ll have neither when it comes time to convince Anthony to re-sign as a free agent next summer. But hope — or the illusion of it — can be manufactured. This is especially true when the next move on the chessboard could have been predicted when the Knicks sacrificed all their pieces for Anthony.

Berger explains in some detail that Calipari is represented “World Wide Wes” and CAA, which is Anthony’s agency. And J.R. Smith’s. And CAA appears to wield a lot of power around the Knicks. So the skids are greased — if Dolan will sign off on $8 million a year or so for Calipari plus give him a lot of personnel control.

Which are some serious questions — as is if Calipari wants to really leave Kentucky — but we’re not going to let that get in the way of some good speculation.

It should be noted that CAA also represents Woodson. But if the losing continues even they are not going to be able to save him —this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part and Woodson could be on the wrong of it.

  1. legend30 - Nov 21, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Knicks should make this move. They need a spark, they have nothing to lose at this point. I can definitely see Calipari taking this job. But he won’t take the job until the off-season.

  2. davidly - Nov 21, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    Only in the mondo bizarro world of big business nepotism would a Calipari return to the NBA be dubbed “long awaited”. Is it too soon to start the countdown to his firing?

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 21, 2013 at 8:25 PM


    • mytthor - Nov 21, 2013 at 9:44 PM

      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      Unless Calipari has some family members in NBA circles I don’t know about? Nepotism is granting favoritism to a relative.

      I assume you meant just plain favoritism, but I don’t think that’s correct either. The guy is a successful college coach. NBA coaches generally come from 2 sources; successful NBA assistants, or successful college coaches. (Or, apparently, point guards who couldn’t shoot, a la Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd.) He didn’t do well with his first pro coaching opportunity, but hell, neither did Bill Belichick.

      • davidly - Nov 22, 2013 at 9:37 AM

        1) Point to one – just one – other time that I used the word.

        2) In spite of its root origins nepotism is also used to mean cronyism; at any rate, it is certainly more accurate than favoritism, which is not as specific.

        3) The guy was a wash in the NBA and he will/would be again.

      • mytthor - Nov 25, 2013 at 1:30 AM

        1) It was a movie quote; I wasn’t really saying you were using it multiple times.

        2) Nepotism specifically means favor shown to family. I found a couple places where it’s defined as favor shown to close friends, as well, but that definition is much less common. I don’t see how it’s more specific, unless you ARE using it to mean family, because if you remove the idea of family, it means precisely the same thing as cronyism or favoritism.

        3) This may or may not be the case; but a bad hiring doesn’t mean there is favoritism or nepotism or cronyism. All three of those things would suggest that Calipari would be getting the job because of a personal relationship, family or otherwise, with the person hiring him. Unless you have heard that somewhere (in which case, what’s your source), then what’s happening is that he’s getting the job because someone thinks he’s going to be successful. While that may not happen, unless you think Dolan is hiring Calipari due to a personal relationship they have, then it’s still not favoritism/cronyism/nepotism. It’s just a bad decision (in your mind).

        On another note, Calipari’s history in the league isn’t THAT bad. He came to a rebuilding team. They stank the first year, then made the playoffs the next year, then, partially due to injuries, they started very poorly in the lockout year and Calipari got fired. Not a resounding success, but not some horrid failure either.

      • davidly - Nov 25, 2013 at 8:04 AM

        1) A movie quote? You mean I search-engined to see where I had been overusing the word for nothing? From now on, purple text for movie quotes!-)

        (and I worried for nothing about your finding that I used the word in late 2012 on this very forum)

        2) I concede that “cronyism” would have been a better choice but maintain that it is more specific than “favoritism”, which doesn’t necessarily entail the culture of inner-circle, public-private revolving door politics. Could I have used “favoritism”. Sure. But to me, it’s not quite the same.

        3) No, I don’t have a source; I am merely alluding to this part of our nature–that we are comfortable with those known to us, so much so that we tend towards not doing due diligence when it comes to looking outside of our established connections for colleagues–and the tendency for this dynamic to shrink even further when seven-figure salaries are in play.

        No doubt there is a risk aversion factor involved, which from a casual perspective makes sense; but looking more closely reveals a general lack of imagination that one might assume does not exist because of the level of financial success. Nevertheless, you’d be hard-pressed to find a former billionaire, no matter how many stunning failures they log into their account sheets.

        It is not a free market and rigorous competition that maintains their wealth, but the wealth itself; this agglomeration of financial resources correspondingly leads to–in my opinion–surrounding oneself with an entourage of sycophants, hangers-on, and employees who would rather schmooze to stay in the club rather than tell the boss what he needs to hear.

        Now, I am not saying that Calipari is isn’t creative and talented. However, that talent is in rule-breaking and reputation building. If his Unis didn’t have the recruiting power they do (much akin to the aforementioned agglomeration of resources), it’d be hard to say how much success he would have on the collegiate level.

        So, yes, maybe it’s just my stupid opinion, but a huge reason his name is bandied about has to do with billionaires having respect for people who can get away with the same kind of crap they themselves can. In this sense, I guess, we’d be talking about crony capitalism.

        And, yes, frankly both the NBA and NCAA are corrupt to the hilt. They prop each other up the same way our elected representatives and the banking/weapons industries make sure no one outside of their circle occupy the halls of Washington (or any other state capital).

        Interestingly, whether or not Calipari bolts for the NBA in spite of enormous success in the NCAA says all one needs to know. Of course, our interpretations may differ.

        Thanks for the response.

  3. alexb1234 - Nov 21, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    stop it….this isn’t happening…calipari to the knicks has been rumored for years

  4. pike573 - Nov 21, 2013 at 2:15 PM

    Woodson and Isaiah are boys… So as long as Dolan is still listening to Isaiah this isn’t happening.

  5. jolink653 - Nov 21, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Firing Woodson would be the dumbest possible move: he’s a good coach who has shown he can absolutely succeed with a competent roster, but what he’s been saddled with up to this point this season is a bunch of mismatched players who don’t fit together, no depth at center, no low post scoring threat behind Carmelo, and no guard who’s willing to penetrate the defense and kick out to open shooters, not to mention the Knicks avoid attacking the rim like they’re allergic to it; all things that point to mismanagement in the front office and frankly lack of effort and hustle by the players…painful to watch as a longtime fan of this team

    • JHathwell - Nov 21, 2013 at 3:50 PM

      He’s going to be scapegoated the same way D’ Antoni was an the same way the next guy will be eventually. This is what happens when you cast your lot with a franchise player who can’t lead you anywhere special and you have a moron owner.

      I mean, what is Dolan gonna do, fire himself?

    • antistratfordian - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      he’s a good coach who has shown he can absolutely succeed with a competent roster…

      I don’t know about all that. He’s had a few decent regular seasons, but “absolutely succeed” is a leap too far.

  6. coryfor3 - Nov 21, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Somebody has got to get that franchise out of Dolan’s hands.

  7. caeser12 - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    “If Dolan will sign off on $8 million a year or so for Calipari plus give him a lot of personnel control.”

    This is what Pat Riley wanted , and Dolan said no, so why would he now all of a sudden do this for Calipari who has won nothing in the NBA?

    Dolan hires only YES MEN. Woodson gets fired Herb Williams takes over, after Herb gets fired, it’s Darrell Walkers turn, after that, the drummer from his band.

    Thanks Dolan, now please sell.

  8. demo3356 - Nov 21, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    I’m surprised the George Karl to NY rumors haven’t started yet

  9. mackcarrington - Nov 21, 2013 at 5:02 PM

    Did I miss something? I mean is Kentucky about to get put on probation or something? That would be the only reason for Calipari to go back to the NBA. Calipari can retire as Kentucky coach. He gets a handful of 5 star recruits every year. He just needs to make the Elite 8 or Final 4 every year with the occasional National Championship game, and he is good for the next dozen years or longer. Why would he want to give that up for the NBA now?

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 21, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      Plus, New Yawk BBQ bites the big one while Kentucky BBQ is killer.

      • mytthor - Nov 21, 2013 at 9:46 PM

        Ooo, dunno about that. Virgil’s in NY has awesome BBQ.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Nov 22, 2013 at 7:24 PM

        It’s NY, you can find every style of BBQ there. You can find ANYTHING there, except a good pro basketball team.

  10. rdav29 - Nov 21, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    Would rather see a Rick Pitino return if they fire Woodson, which they shouldn’t.

  11. cmart0907 - Nov 21, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    The roster needs a huge turnover. Calipari can’t recruit the players he wants. Not to mention i don’t think the Knicks have a first round pick until 2018. I will be shocked if Calipari leaves UK for the Knicks.

  12. jimeejohnson - Nov 21, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    Paging anybody who can play this game like Patrick Ewing: HELP!

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 21, 2013 at 8:29 PM

      Even like John Starks.

  13. jimeejohnson - Nov 21, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Let’s face it: unless you’re a hateful loser, you want the Knicks to get back to competing for championships. Last year was a step in the right direction, but the team has taken a couple of steps back this season, so far. I agree that the Knicks need an entirely new management if they are to ever again compete for a championship.

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 21, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      “to compete”

  14. hecklrkosh - Nov 22, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    It’s not a rumor; and his job is NOT in trouble. It’s a rumor because you fools are yahoo is trying to create drama; farthermore, Calaparie is a garbage coach, he should stick to college where they don’t play defense. The Knicks need a new leader (and not Carmelo Anthony), he’s not goign to take them to the promise land. Jr. Smith is a good wing man, Tyson chandler and k.Martin are great enforcers, but Anthony is like another James Harden, he’s good enough to be good, but not great enough to bring a championship.

    • eugenesaxe1 - Nov 22, 2013 at 7:29 PM

      You speak of college teams not playing D, in an article about the Knicks.

  15. eugenesaxe1 - Nov 22, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    He’d be a fool to leave Kentucky. He can hand-pick his roster every year, he can compete for a title every year, and he has to deal with Dolan never.

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