Steve Popper of The Record reported this morning that the Knicks could fire Head Coach Mike Woodson before the Feb. 20 trading deadline. Given the sorry state of affairs, with a 19-29 record and an increasingly frustrated roster, this is not a surprise. The only question that remains is, why wait?
What exactly the Knicks gain by waiting even a day more to let Woodson go is beyond me. It’s becoming clear that he’s losing this team, if it’s not already completely tuned him out. Things look eerily similar to the final days of Mike D’Antoni’s tenure as coach; there was even a bad loss in Milwaukee during the end of the D’Antoni era too.
When a team is as bad as the Knicks, it’s difficult to pin it on one person. There have been injuries, there have been on and off court distractions from J.R. Smith, and the since-ousted general manager made a poor trade for a guy who doesn’t fit at all.
But Woodson is at least very near the top of the list of those responsible. As Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal thoroughly noted, the Knicks are actually way better under Woodson when their cupboard is bare because of injuries. Glen Grunwald may have made the deal to bring Andrea Bargnani here, but Woodson is the one who so insisted on overusing him and playing him with Carmelo Anthony, a pairing that has proven to marginalize the Knicks’ best player. It’s part of Woodson’s antiquated belief in playing a conventional Center-Power Forward-Small Forward lineup, and he’s refused to recognize and embrace the Knicks’ small-ball prowess. Even if it’s what’s most responsible for him being the second winningest coach in franchise history.*
*This franchise sucks at choosing coaches, by the way. Look at this list. And for all the hand-wringing about picks and cap space and mortgaging the future, the one thing you can do that has no affect on any of that is hire a coach. There is no cap for coaches.
With the Knicks’ season in quicksand, the team gains nothing by waiting to pull the trigger. And I don’t believe in needing a replacement in line before making a change. There is nothing wrong with handing the duties over to Darrell Walker or Herb Williams for the remainder of the year, then axing the entire staff and taking stock of who’s available in the offseason. You never know who may be available. Maybe Tom Thibodeau (a CAA guy, it should be noted) will be free.
The Knicks aren’t going anywhere this season, with or without Woodson. Just rip the band-aid off.