Carmelo Anthony publicly backed Mike Woodson, but things don’t look good for the New York Knicks head coach. Amar’e Stoudemire told reporters that Knicks players weren’t buying what Woodson was selling, and Tyson Chandler admitted to a “disconnect” between the coach and his troops. Per the NY Post and Newsday:
“It was an up-and-down year, midseason changes, coach Woodson put together a game plan on both ends of the basketball court and there were times that we didn’t totally buy into it,” Stoudemire said after Thursday’s exit interview with team president Phil Jackson.
“We didn’t really focus on mastering the offensive strategies and defensive strategies,” Stoudemire said. “The mind-set is for us whatever the game plan is, we have to stick to the game plan. We’ve got to try to master it, and that way we can be playing at an extremely high level when it’s time for the postseason.”
But the Knicks aren’t headed to the postseason, missing the playoffs in a year when even the 38-44 Hawks made it, putting Woodson on the chopping block.
“We had more vets last year that wouldn’t allow you to screw up,’’ Stoudemire said. “We had vocal vets with Rasheed Wallace and Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas and those guys who’ve been around for years and know how to play the game, and they won’t allow you to take a back seat. This year we didn’t have those guys — we had a fairly young team and we, me personally, had to lead by example.”
Mike Woodson didn’t take part in Thursday’s exit interviews with players, which could be an indication that he won’t be part of the Knicks’ future.
But Carmelo Anthony went out of his way to support Woodson and even appeared to get emotional as he talked about the embattled coach.
“To be honest with you, Mike Woodson, me and him have become . . . he’s been a guy that I can talk to, he’s been almost a father figure, a friend, a guy that I can bounce stuff off,” Anthony said. “I’ve been a guy he’s talked to multiple times, about multiple things in different situations.
“So when that time comes, if it’s ready for me to step up and take that next step and say, ‘OK, Mike Woodson needs to stay or go,’ I don’t think it would come down to that, but I’d back him. If he needs my recommendation, whether it’s here or anywhere else, I’ll back him. I support him.
“For me as a player, I had some of my best years under Mike Woodson. So I would never have anything bad to say about Mike Woodson.”
Usually, the team’s top executive and coach meet with players to discuss the season and future. Knicks president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills conducted the interviews.
Woodson is signed through next season, but he said Wednesday he hopes to learn his fate soon.