by Matt Shetler
The pressure appears to be on for the New York Knicks and interim head coach Mike Woodson.
Despite Woodson posting a 16-6 record after replacing Mike D’Antoni, it looks like his job could be in jeopardy, as Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times reports that if the Knicks don’t advance out of the first round of the playoffs this season that the franchise will throw as much as $50 million at Phil Jackson in the offseason.
If the New York Knicks don’t advance beyond the first round of the playoffs, I’m hearing they’ll make a major — repeat, major — push to lure legendary coach Phil Jackson out of retirement.
With money being no object, the scuttlebutt is the Knicks brass may offer the “Zen Master” a four-year, $50 million deal.
While Knicks fans have been clamoring over Jackson for a long time now, it’s very difficult to ignore the success Woodson has, and by success, I’m just not referring to wins and losses.
What new Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald needs to do is ignore the temptations of Jackson and remove the interim label from Woodson, and he should do it before the playoffs begin. There’s no need to have Woodson feeling like a lame-duck coach heading into the postseason.
Grunwald had his interim label lifted earlier in the week; now his first act should be to do the same for Woodson. He’s done enough to earn the full-time job.
Just take a look at how the Knicks have bought into Woodson’s philosophies in such a short time.
That’s especially true on the defensive end of the floor, where the once defensively-challenged Knicks have responded by allowing only 89.68 PPG.
One major problem in the NBA is always the superstars buying into the head coach, but that hasn’t even been an issue here, as Woodson has received glowing recommendations from both Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire about returning next season.
Both gave their stamps of approval and want Woodson back next season. Anthony made his endorsement to ESPN’s Hannah Storm for an upcoming episode of the SportsCenter series Face2Face (via ESPNNewYork.com).
“Absolutely,” Anthony told Storm. “I’m a big supporter of what coach Woodson has done. His approach to the game, and what he gets out of all his players, even me. He holds everybody accountable and that’s what we need.”
Woodson not only has produced results, but he’s gotten his superstars to buy in, which isn’t an easy thing to do.
Anthony has shown signs of being a leader under Woodson and has shown that he’s bought into what Woodson is preaching. It also sends a message that if Anthony can buy in, then everyone else will follow his lead and do the same.
Despite what happens in the postseason, the Knicks need to build off the way they’ve finished the 2012 regular season, and they can do that under Woodson.
As far as Jackson is concerned, his resume speaks for itself. His 1,640 regular season wins and 11 rings speak for themselves.
But would he be the right fit in the Big Apple?
Jackson would almost certainly bring the Triangle Offense to New York, and it may take Anthony and company a year to really figure it out.
By the time Jackson gets the roster he wants and everything clicking, you could be two years into his contract already and could have possibly spent $25 million waiting for a chance at making a run at a title.
Jackson is going to be there for the Knicks if they want him. Who says they have to run to him after this season?
Give Woodson a year to try and finish what he started, and if you don’t like the results next season, then make a run at Jackson.
Woodson has been known as a coach who likes to hold his players accountable. Now Grunwald needs to do the same and remove the interim label. There’s no guarantee that Jackson is the right fit for the Knicks, but we already know that Woodson is a pretty good one.