The bloom has come off the rose. Last season Mike Woodson led the New York Knicks to a 54-win season. This season, however, has been a disaster and the team will not be playing in the post-season. Now Amare Stoudemire is claiming the Knicks didn't always buy into Woodson's coaching.
Let's just cut straight to it. The New York Knicks are probably going to fire Mike Woodson. That being said, Woodson isn't any worse of a coach than he was last season.
In fact, this season's roster was probably better than last year's. So why such a huge difference in results? First of all, the Eastern conference got better. Second, Woodson had a hard time this season getting his message through to his players.
Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas weren't around to be player extensions to the coaching staff. J.R. Smith came into the season injured and less professional than last season. Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert joined Smith in having off-season surgeries.
Tyson Chandler was also slowed by injuries during the season. Beyond that, even though Carmelo Anthony probably had the best all-around season of his NBA career his focus on the future led to unrest in the locker room. Many began to question Woodson's decisions and then qualifications. Clearly, trust is not everlasting.
Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork reports that Stoudemire doesn't think the team always bought into Woodson's message.
Amar'e Stoudemire says one of the Knicks’ downfalls this season was the team’s unwillingness to completely buy into Mike Woodson’s coaching.
“I think next year we got to take more of a mindset of trying to master the game,” Stoudemire said before the Knicks’ season finale against Toronto. “I mean, again, certain strategies were placed upon us with Coach Woodson. There were times when we didn’t quite buy into it and as a result of that, we lost games.”
Anyone who watched the Knicks this season knows there were times the team was engaged and others they weren't. It's the same reason why one night they might play like world beaters only to the follow it up with a pathetic display of basketball.
However, it's one thing to watch it and another to hear one of your team leaders say it out loud. Stoudemire may have sealed Woodson’s fate with the Knicks in one interview.
To be fair, everyone in the world expects Woodson to lose his job anyway. But there's no way Stoudemire helped Woodson's cause with his words.
The bottom line is, when coaches lose the respect and attention of their players it's time for a change. It's up to head coaches to convince their players to buy into their strategy. What the coach says goes. When that isn't happening it's time to move on.
That's where the Knicks find themselves. Conveniently enough, Phil Jackson likely wants to pick his own coach anyway. In the end, the only message Woodson should worry about now is the one he'll inevitably receive from Jackson telling him he's fired.