The New York Knicks are one of the two most disappointing teams in the NBA this season, with their cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets being the other. The two will meet for the first time this season to see not who is the best team in New York, but who is the worst. The Nets are 5-13 and have had all kinds of injury problems. Their veteran lineup looks old and washed up, and it is pretty clear that Jason Kidd is in way over his head as a first year head coach.
For the 3-13 Knicks, it is really difficult to tell whether they are worse offensively or defensively. They run an offense that tries to avoid passing the ball at all costs, and Carmelo Anthony continues to outdo himself with high volume, low efficiency scoring. Of course, at least the Knicks try on offense, which is far more than can be said of their defensive performance. For those reasons, Mike Woodson’s job security is a hot talking point, and there are rumors that he is coaching for his job tonight against the Nets.
James Dolan is perhaps the most irrational and unpredictable owner in sports, so it would surprise no one if he fired Woodson after the embarrassment of losing to Brooklyn. You can make a case that Woodson has actually lost the ear of the locker room, because the Knicks’ isolation heavy offense and lazy defense look like a pickup game, not a well coached team of professionals.
However, I think it would be a mistake to fire Woodson, because he has been set up to fail. The Knicks’ roster is a disaster, and Woodson is doing the best he can with what little he has been given. Anthony, the Knicks’ so-called “superstar”, is a selfish and inefficient offensive player and a lazy defender. Andrea Bargnani has played well offensively, but you can make a compelling argument that he is the worst defensive big man in the NBA. J.R. Smith has been an absolute disaster on both ends of the floor, and his re-signing looks like a huge mistake.
Tyson Chandler is injured, Raymond Felton and Tim Hardaway Jr. are low percentage shooters and poor defenders, and the rest of the Knicks’ roster is comprised of has-beens and never-weres. And that doesn’t even include Amar’e Stoudemire, who has the worst contract in the NBA and is destroying the Knicks’ roster flexibility as he makes $21.7 million to play 14.5 minutes per game.
Given all that, it is extremely unfair to blame Woodson for the Knicks’ disastrous start. This is a team that is fundamentally flawed from top to bottom, and changing coaches would do nothing to address the Knicks’ problems. Let’s not forget, Woodson went 18-6 when he took over the job in the middle of the 2011-12 season, and he led the team to 54 wins and an Atlantic division title last season. He is a good coach, but he just doesn’t have much to work with in New York.
However, given the fact that Dolan is calling the shots, Woodson’s firing seems inevitable. It could come as soon as tomorrow if the Knicks lose tonight, or it could come a few weeks from now. Either way, unless the Knicks suddenly have a miraculous turnaround, it appears Woodson is as good as gone. It will be very unfortunate when it does happen, and firing Woodson will be the latest in a long line of huge mistakes by Knicks’ management.