Now that the New York Knicks have fired Glen Grunwald from his position of general manager and replaced him with former Knicks executive Steve Mills one has to wonder if coach Mike Woodson will be around much longer.
There is no reason to think Woodson will be fired this season but Mills, like every other general manager, will want his own coach on the bench. Grunwald and Woodson were teammates in college at Indiana and have remained friends ever since. It wouldn’t be too farfetched to believe that if the Knicks don’t improve greatly on last season’s performance that saw the team win their first playoff series since the 1999-2000 season then Woodson will be replaced.
Mills, you might remember, ushered in and supported Isiah Thomas with the support of owner James Dolan. That isn’t exactly an era in Knicks history that is looked upon fondly by fans. However, Dolan wanted his guy and he felt the time was right to make the move even if it does look strange due to the timing. Now that he is team president and general manager it wouldn’t be shocking to see him install a coach of his own at the end of the season and anything short of an NBA championship could mean the end of Woodson as coach of the Knicks.
Woodson took over the Knicks late in the 2011-12 season as the interim head coach after Mike D’Antoni resigned. The Knicks responded to Woodson and went 18-6 under his guidance and made the playoffs where they won their first playoff game since 1999-2000 before falling 4-1 to the Miami Heat. Last year, Woodson’s first full season with the team, the Knicks went 54-28 and reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
After the 2011-12 season, the Knicks gave Woodson a contract with two years guaranteed, a contract that runs out at the end of this year with an option for a third-year.
It would be ridiculous for the Knicks to let Woodson go if the Knicks perform well this season but it is looking more and more like Woodson will need to win a title to save his job with Mills suddenly taking the reins. The whole timing of the move is odd. Why would the Knicks do this just before the start of the season and not at the end of last year? Firing Grunwald at the end of last year would have at least given Mills the ability to draft players he wanted in this past NBA Draft.
Then again, these are the James Dolan-led Knicks where logic is often suspended in favor of Dolan’s personal preference. How else can one explain the Mills/Thomas era that only came to an end after a sexual harassment scandal forced them both out.
Just when you thought the circus left Madison Square Garden, James Dolan is erecting the tents once again. Sadly for Mike Woodson, the future doesn’t look as bright as it did just last week and that is a shame. Woodson helped turn around a struggling and prodding franchise and has taken it to places it hasn’t been in 13 years. Now, he looks like a lame duck on the bench with the axe hovering over his head. The only way to change that is to give Woodson a public vote of confidence and, if necessary, pick up his option for next season or run the risk of this team tuning Woodson out.