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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Falsity of Mike Woodson’s Respect and Accountability

Let’s get this out of the way first: Mike Woodson is a good NBA coach.

As with any coach, Woody has his strengths and weaknesses, though thus far he’s mostly impressed in his tenure as the Knicks’ head coach. However, following Woodson’s short interim stint in the latter part of the 2012 season, there was the presumption that — unlike the ousted Mike D’Antoni — Woody’s persona was that of an unchallenged enforcer. Phrases like “he holds players accountable,” and “he is respected in the locker room” were, and are, thrown around quite a bit.

The former is questionable, while the the truth of the latter, I would argue, is routinely suspended.

Allow me to explain.

Let’s start with “holding players accountable.” Former Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni was often criticized for letting payers slide, while Woodson received praise upon praise for holding players to account for their actions while making them aware of their futilities. As far as punishment or enforcing goes, however, the case was exactly the opposite: In the 2009-2010 NBA season, Nate Robinson feuded with D’Antoni, who was skeptical of his diminutive sparkplug’s careless behavior and self-centered basketball.

What did D’Antoni do? He benched Robinson for a full month. Oddly enough, from the time he was bench until his eventual trading, Robinson’s efficiency actually rose relative to his pre-benching play. His TS% upped from 54.1 on a USG% of 23.6 to 55.7 on  a USG% of 26.7, at which point he was shipped off to Boston in a trade that gave the Knicks a few extra bucks to spend in the vaunted summer of 2010, but also ridded D’Antoni of his chief nemesis. One could argue that sending a problem off to another state or resigning it to the bench isn’t the right way of handling it, but to that I would respond that it’s worked pretty well for Gregg Popovich, who’s done it a good amount over the years.

Now consider Mike Woodson, who is universally known as a much stronger voice with a much fiercer hand when dealing with ruffian charges. Remember this year’s Playoffs? Remember when J.R. Smith elbowed an opposing player, spent most of his nights partying and shot under 29% from the field on a bum knee — an injury the team was aware of all the while — in the conference semi-finals? With Smith flailing with his shooting and averaging half the assists he did per game during the regular season — despite being on the floor for more minutes in the postseason — why didn’t Mike Woodson “hold him accountable”?

The Knicks fell behind to the Pacers 3-1, and in those four games Smith averaged 30 minutes a night and couldn’t find the bottom of the net on a Fisher Price hoop. Injury, streakiness, partying — his play was atrocious no matter the excuse you use. So with the Knicks on the ropes and needing parental intervention to come and yank them out of a hole, what does coach Woody do? Hold Smith accountable and play him 15 minutes? Does he tell him to not take step-back contested 20 footers? Of course not! He plays Earl 36 minutes, then 35 the game following, during which Smith put up 13 attempts per on 30% shooting.

This is just one example. After all, it’s not like Woodson ever really got on Melo for slacking with his defensive play as the season progressed, or pressed Ray Felton to attack the rim on pick-and-rolls and eschew firing up long twos because that’s inefficient. If Woodson did deliver such messages, then they fell on deaf ears. If he didn’t, well, my point is made.

I’ll admit, I wouldn’t have it in me to tell my superstar to put the same effort on defense as he did for the first dozen games of the season. Maybe the best way to get production from these multimillionaires it to treat them like children and spoon feed them how awesome they are, and tell them they can do whatever they want. But to then call Mike Woodson a model of team accountability and responsibility? It’s just not accurate.

As for the “player respect” part: These players love Woody. They do. I’m pretty certain of this. However, it does not mean they respect him always. Not as a person, mind you — they absolutely respect him as a person and a man — but as a basketball mind. Which is kind of important.

Drawn-up plays sometimes don’t work as planned. This happens to all teams. Athletes are humans, and they’re often wont to improvise. Sometimes they break deliberately, however, and in the Knicks’ case, this happens often, and it’s often Carmelo Anthony at the root of these deviations. Where are they most common? When the game is on the line. Perfect timing, huh?

Now this isn’t anything exclusive to Anthony and the Knicks. Many stars who are terrific in the clutch turn away their coach’s play call to make their own move. Carmelo is only one of the culprits. But this glosses over an important point: Melo was a disaster in the closing minutes of games this season. When trailing by five points or less down the stretch, Anthony shot under 40% for the year. With under a minute left? A jaw-dropping 22%. With the game within three points and with 30 seconds or less to play? Brace yourselves: 14%. Fourteen!

Maybe, just maybe, Melo would’ve been wise to run Woody’s plays more often, instead of making up his own on the fly.

Watch this play here against the Brooklyn Nets. Keep a close eye on Tyson Chandler’s pick placement, and how he reacts when Melo “uses” it:

 

See how Anthony popped out over the three-point arc as Chandler tried to adjust to that movement? Watch it closely and it’s obvious that Carmelo doesn’t run the intended play — Like Tyson was — and instead races outward for a quick catch and isolation. This next clip features basically the same play, the same decision by Melo and, predictably, the same result. The best part here is that Woodson calls for the Knicks to run his play right away — as noted by the announcers — yet this plea is ignored, just like the play itself.

Once again you’ll notice Chandler preparing himself for the play at hand, only to have to extend further out because Melo’s looking to ditch the draw-up and take his own crack at it.

I kid you not, this same play with this same process and result occurs TWICE MORE during the season. Anthony’s maintained a streak of putting tight games on his isolation-ready shoulders, including a few times in the first round series against Boston where he called off a pick-and-roll with Chandler in the final minutes of a tight contest. Again, this happens to all coaches, yet for some reason Woodson is still heralded by some as a master puppeteer of shot-crazy egos.

This shouldn’t shift your opinion of Mike Woodson as an NBA head coach, unless you were somehow of the belief that he is an almighty disciplinarian who is rarely disregarded and perpetually defied. Neither of those two things should be thought of as his greatest coaching quality. His ability to successfully change his whole dynamic on the fly and winning 54 games with an injury-riddled roster? That’s Mike Woodson’s best quality.

As much as I commend Woodson’s (usually) very sound coaching, I simply can’t agree with those who make him out to be something he’s not.

61 comments on “The Falsity of Mike Woodson’s Respect and Accountability

  1. Frank O.

    You know I spend a lot of time watching the US Senate, which is part of my job. The Senate Majority Leader job title is a bit of a misnomer: sure he is selected by senators to “lead” the majority, but each senator has enormous powers. So, what this often means is the Leader is a consensus builder. He can only get done what his caucus will let him get done.
    The House of Representative is different. The Speaker has enormous powers to shape the agenda, the floor debate, what is debated and what is not, and completely shut down the minority if he/she so chooses.
    The Senate Majority Leader can try to shut things down for a time, but his caucus and the minority can completely gum up the works so that no one gets anything done.

    Which leads me to an NBA head coach. In my view, an effective head coach has to balanced his goals with the consensus of the team. We have seen coaches lose the team as he tries to impose his will, and we have seen teams turn on coaches, and coaches lose their jobs.
    So, there are limits on how much hammering a coach can do. And in the Knicks case as well, no one is going to understand if the team stops winning either because Woodson benches Melo, or loses Melo such that Melo doesn’t work within the coaches concept.
    Also, basketball is all about split second decisions. Players sometimes break plays because the opportunity was not apparent, or the defense denied, the player was too lax or because they simply didn’t care for the play. Coaches give a lot of deference to players.
    Anyway, great head coaches know how to gain buy in, and they use a host of tools to achieve this. The greatest Majority Leader ever was Lyndon Johnson. If you’re interested read Caro’s Master of the Senate.
    Meanwhile, I think coaches are judged by their wins and losses v. expectations. Woodson probably beat expectations given the teams injuries.
    I think he’s doing better than this article suggests, and suggest maybe it misses the point. FWIW

  2. Mike Kurylo

    Frank O.: The House of Representative is different. The Speaker has enormous powers to shape the agenda, the floor debate, what is debated and what is not, and completely shut down the minority if he/she so chooses.

    Clearly this is true for only the first 111 Congresses.

    Frank O.: The greatest Majority Leader ever was Lyndon Johnson. If you’re interested read Caro’s Master of the Senate.

    Bold statement. I think there’s the case for “Scrappy” Joseph Taylor Robinson.

  3. flossy

    I think the mid-season benching of Nate Robinson, who was a bit player on a bad team, has absolutely nothing to do with the decision not to bench JR Smith, who was the team’s 2nd leading scorer and team leader in minutes played during the regular season, during the playoffs.

    Moreover, the idea that Woodson’s biggest failure is not cracking down harder on Carmelo Anthony is ridiculous. Do you think Woodson was not paying attention while his predecessor got run out of town because Melo didn’t take to his coaching style? Do you think NBA stars in their prime respond well to being publicly berated or benched? I mean, come on.

  4. Frank

    Yeah, I feel sort of meh about this. Yes, Melo probably hijacks the offense sometimes, but I’m pretty sure if you look at most teams and their “superstars”, it happens a fair amount. Woodson preaches accountability sure, but it’s not like that has to mean you treat every player exactly the same. It means that you have the same expectations of every player on both sides of the ball — how you get to those expectations is the art of managing men. Do you think Phil Jackson treated MJ the same as he treated Will Perdue? Or did Pop treat Stephen Jackson the same way he treated Tony Parker? Of course not.

    And just like Frank O. wrote above, when you’re managing a team for a whole season or more, coaches need to think of the long game, not the short game. For the most part, it seemed like the team bought into what Woodson was selling.

  5. Nick C.

    flossy:
    I think the mid-season benching of Nate Robinson, who was a bit player on a bad team, has absolutely nothing to do with the decision not to bench JR Smith, who was the team’s 2nd leading scorer and team leader in minutes played during the regular season, during the playoffs.

    Moreover, the idea that Woodson’s biggest failure is not cracking down harder on Carmelo Anthony is ridiculous.Do you think Woodson was not paying attention while his predecessor got run out of town because Melo didn’t take to his coaching style?Do you think NBA stars in their prime respond well to being publicly berated or benched?I mean, come on.

    That’s why the Woodson holds players accountable meme is and was BS isn’t it?
    It would be nice if he hollered at someone other than the white guy, oops I mean Novak, or the rookie, Shumpert and Copeland, but that’s how these things go.

  6. sekou

    I think that there is some validity in this point that Woodson as a disciplinarian is a tad overblown. Such is the world of NBA talking heads. They rarely have anything new to add, so they regurgitate the same old points.

    Personally, I think Woodson has done a pretty good job on preaching accountability. The bigger issue, which is at the core of my Knicks nightmares, is that this team is led by players who have little interest in truly changing their games to make the team better. That includes Melo, Tyson, and JR. STAT, bless his battered knees, and Shump have obviously made changes to their game based on Woodson’s advice. Woodson can do but so much. At some point the players have to truly want to make the changes.

  7. Hubert

    If I may launch into constructive critic mode…

    You make some very good points but you are arguing a straw man. The antagonist in this piece seems to be:

    “Phrases like “he holds players accountable,” and “he is respected in the locker room” were, and are, thrown around quite a bit.”

    You didn’t really establish the fact that there is a school of thought that holds those truths about Mike Woodson to be evident before you refuted them. Thus, I don’t understand the need to refute them. I mean, perhaps the MSG Gulag has spewed such nonsense, I don’t know. It sounds like the kind of spiel that I heard early on his tenure after D’Antoni was fired. But I really don’t think any Knicks fans who watch this team play all year believe Mike Woodson is good at holding players accountable.

    Woodson’s strengths are:

    1) He doesn’t antagonize his star.

    2) He’s not as bad as some of the really bad coaches.

    But really I think every Knicks fan knows we need a coaching upgrade. We just don’t trust MSG to get the decision right. Woodson is the devil we know. And this particular audience knows his faults extremely well.

  8. Hubert

    Nick C.: That’s why the Woodson holds players accountable meme is and was BS isn’t it?

    Does this really exist? Is it actually just common knowledge that people think Woodson holds his team accountable? (If it is, I guess my criticism was unfounded)

    I remember hearing it for 2 weeks when MDA was fired, and thinking it was bullshit because really all he was doing was picking on his young guys and fringe players. Maybe I just tuned it out after that.

    Did the rest of the NBA world actually create this narrative about Mike Woodson and I just missed it?

  9. Frank

    Hubert: But really I think every Knicks fan knows we need a coaching upgrade. We just don’t trust MSG to get the decision right. Woodson is the devil we know. And this particular audience knows his faults extremely well.

    I’m willing to give Woodson the benefit of the doubt. He came out with some really interesting stuff last year which basically no one expected. Sure we all wished he played Cope and Prigs more against the Pacers, but honestly, if JR plays even just a below-average (rather than absolutely horrific) series, we probably beat Indy. And it’s not like it’s impossible for Woody to learn from his mistakes.

  10. Garson

    from rotoworld … Metta World Peace said that he plans to change his name this season.
    “We are going to do do a name change, but I can’t tell you what it is,” World Peace said in an interview with ClevverNews. It’s not expected to be a legal change and he said that process is “too much work.” MWP is a wild card, so it’s not a bad idea to hold off on ordering your number 51 World Peace jersey until this clears up.

    This could be fun…

    My Pick is
    First Name: Artest
    Last Name: Ronald

  11. Nick C.

    Hubert: Does this really exist? Is it actually just common knowledge that people think Woodson holds his team accountable?(If it is, I guess my criticism was unfounded)

    I remember hearing it for 2 weeks when MDA was fired, and thinking it was bullshit because really all he was doing was picking on his young guys and fringe players.Maybe I just tuned it out after that.

    Did the rest of the NBA world actually create this narrative about Mike Woodson and I just missed it?

    Upon further reflection, my memory is the same as yours. But other than this site and skimming the tabs I pay 0 attention.

  12. danvt

    I think Woodson is a players coach and not a disciplinarian. Clearly that’s why it’s worked with JR and Carmelo. D’Antoni was not a strict guy either personality wise but was more wedded to his system and thus less apt to compromise.

    There must be some good reason why most scoring players don’t set a ton of screens. I mean, you rarely see guards or wing players do it. Usually that kind of thing is reserved for bigger people with limited offensive games to make space for PGs to get in the lane. Though Melo is a 4 now it’s clear, as RURU said, that he is a more natural facilitator and plays that role efficiently.

    In the NFL everybody blocks (including sometimes the QB!) but sometimes it doesn’t work that way in the NBA. There must be a good reason why the sample size is so small for Anthony the screener. Also, plays do get busted by good defenses who key on certain things by the end of games leaving good players to take difficult shots

    Little David makes good though somewhat obvious points about the merits of team play but seems a little didactic, here and in his last post. I don’t think Larry Brown would be a good fit for these Knicks.

    I less than three you too David!

  13. Hubert

    Frank: I’m willing to give Woodson the benefit of the doubt. He came out with some really interesting stuff last year which basically no one expected.Sure we all wished he played Cope and Prigs more against the Pacers, but honestly, if JR plays even just a below-average (rather than absolutely horrific) series, we probably beat Indy.And it’s not like it’s impossible for Woody to learn from his mistakes.

    I agree with this, too. And by upgrade, I meant to include the possibility of him improving.

    The point was we cannot win a championship if we get coaching at the level at which Woodson coached in last year’s playoffs. We need an improvement.

    The improvement can come from the coach gaining experience, or it can come from hiring a better coach.

    Woodson has one really huge thing in his favor that we don’t know if a new coach will have:

    His star doesn’t hate him.

    If I had a choice between:

    a) coach with a high tactical and strategic IQ that doesn’t get along with his star

    or

    b) a coach who gets along with his star but has glaring tactical and strategic issues

    I would take b.

    Thing is we need a guy who combines both. Given Melo’s temperament and the fact that Woodson’s issues are rather remedial and can hopefully be fixed, and factoring in MSG’s coach-hiring track record, I think our best bet is keeping him.

    But he needs to improve.

    And – getting back to the point of the article – he sucks at holding his player’s accountable. That’s one of the reasons he insists on all veterans, because he doesn’t even want to deal with it.

  14. Mike Kurylo

    Hubert:
    If I may launch into constructive critic mode…

    You make some very good points but you are arguing a straw man.The antagonist in this piece seems to be:

    “Phrases like “he holds players accountable,” and “he is respected in the locker room” were, and are, thrown around quite a bit.”

    You didn’t really establish the fact that there is a school of thought that holds those truths about Mike Woodson to be evident before you refuted them.Thus, I don’t understand the need to refute them.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/14395/woodson-ill-hold-knicks-accountable

    If nothing else, Mike Woodson’s Knicks will be held accountable.

    Woodson made that point loud and clear after his first game as the team’s interim head coach.

    “I’m going to do everything I can possibly do to win basketball games, that’s my job,” Woodson said. “I’m going to be held accountable and I’m going to make damn sure that (the players are) held accountable to win.”

  15. Mike Kurylo

    “Mike Woodson is holding the NY Knicks accountable, even stars like Carmelo Anthony”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/knicks/mike-woodson-holding-knicks-accountable-stars-carmelo-anthony-article-1.1049377#ixzz2aAFRKFii

    But when it comes to holding players accountable — Woodson’s theme since replacing Mike D’Antoni on March 14 — that’s where all Knicks are treated equally. And that includes a certain All-Star forward.

    When J.R. Smith passed up a sure layup and instead caused a turnover on Wednesday in Philadelphia, Woodson didn’t pass up the chance to make sure that Smith knew he had made a mistake. When Jeremy Lin committed a senseless foul in the final seconds of that 82-79 victory over the Sixers, Woodson immediately called the young point guard over to the bench to lecture him.

    But when Woodson doesn’t hesitate to reprimand Carmelo Anthony for being late on a defensive rotation, as the interim coach did during Wednesday’s fourth quarter, the moment resonates with all 15 players on the roster.

    “He’s a very challenging coach,” Anthony says.

  16. Mike Kurylo

    Garson:
    from rotoworld … Metta World Peace said that he plans to change his name this season.
    “We are going to do do a name change, but I can’t tell you what it is,” World Peace said in an interview with ClevverNews. It’s not expected to be a legal change and he said that process is “too much work.” MWP is a wild card, so it’s not a bad idea to hold off on ordering your number 51 World Peace jersey until this clears up.

    This could be fun…

    My Pick is
    First Name: Artest
    Last Name: Ronald

    My bet: Carlos Danger

  17. KnickfaninNJ

    If you read the Prigioni interview pointed to on this site a week or two ago (which is in very difficult spanish), you will notice that he says he got benched if his defender got by him twice in a game and also got benched if he didn’t take shots when he should have (translations are approximate, but general sense is clear). So clearly he is being held accountable. You can’t say JR wasn’t being held accountable because he missed shots and stayed in the game because it might have been Woody’s wish that he should take those shots. Woody’s certainly smart enough to know not all shots are going to go in. If someone takes shots he shouldn’t or doesn’t take ones he should, that’s something you can hold them accountable for. ; but not for just missing a shot. You can certainly argue he shouldn’t have played JR so much, but you can’t say that reflect him not holding JR accountable.

    For the plays with Melo, I looked and it’s not clear to me that the play was broken in a way that was Melo’s fault. Certainly it’s hard to know what was intended just from watching the tape.

    In summary, I think Woody does clearly hold people accountable for trying to do the things they are supposed to on the court. I think D’Antoni did too, but probably wasn’t as good at explaining his reasons to the players so they thought they were being treated unfairly sometimes. Thus the relative reps of the two coaches.

  18. Hubert

    Nick C.: Upon further reflection, my memory is the same as yours. But other than this site and skimming the tabs I pay 0 attention.

    You could be right. I only spend hours looking at the internet when I’m getting paid to work, and most sports sites are blocked at my office so I’m blissfully unaware of many of the narratives. I only hear the ones that get major play (you know, like the fact that it was scientifically proven that the Knicks slipped to 5th place in the East this summer).

  19. Zanzibar

    Woodson needs the support of the front office and Dolan. Remember he called out Melo to lose weight over the summer? I’m sure that didn’t happen without him checking with GG and Dolan beforehand. Woody is effectively in the final year of his contract so one would think he will feel freer to take the steps focused exclusively on winning. BUT!! Melo has that ETO so Dolan will probably want to make sure Melo’s happy if he plans to re-sign him. How does that play out this season? Well this dovetails nicely with the whole Melo PnR vs ISO discussion. With Tyson and KMart at the 5, ISOs won’t work against our main challengers in the playoffs. Paul is a tough defender 1-on1 against Melo and even if Melo gets by him Hibbert will be there to greet Melo at the rim. That means more Melo in PnR, PnPop, and various screens but I’m not sure Melo, after a decade playing a certain way, will adapt. Will FO and Dolan support Woody in taking stronger actions to make him play that kind of game? Stay tuned.

  20. Hubert

    Mike K, not attempting to be pedantic here, but all those things are from his first week or two on the job. I feel like that narrative has gone cold for at least a year and was surprised to see it tackled again. It seemed like he was debunking a myth that had collectively been debunked already, at least by this audience.

    I don’t envy these youngster’s having to write for this crowd, and I applaud you giving some of them a shot. I thought I’d volunteer some criticism that I hoped would be helpful.

  21. Juany8

    Hubert: You could be right.I only spend hours looking at the internet when I’m getting paid to work, and most sports sites are blocked at my office so I’m blissfully unaware of many of the narratives.I only hear the ones that get major play (you know, like the fact that it was scientifically proven that the Knicks slipped to 5th place in the East this summer).

    Just like it was scientifically proven that the lakers were huge threats to the title last year :p in my experience these super star teams never live up to the hype, mostly because basketball synergy is so poorly understood. In some cases, it really is better to have a Danny green than a Carmelo Anthony on your team. So you load up on stars that have never taken a corner 3 before and start asking them to stand in the corner and watch, and they’re going to do poorly.

    Now a healthy Chicago probably overcomes the Knicks, and Indiana is probably a coin toss, but Brooklyn still has a lot to prove. Same with the rockets, wouldn’t be surprised if neither team even won a playoff round this year. Top of the league is loaded.

  22. KnickfaninNJ

    Living up to hype is hard. But superstar teams do work out sometimes. Look at Boston trading for Garnett and Miami getting the big three. They both won championships with their new superstar player or players. LA didn’t work out last year, but they were missing a lot of parts (like uninjured point guards). But it did take Boston and Miami a year or so to gel and be good. It’s unlikely Brooklyn will be bad next year. They have a reasonably balanced team and it’s not worse on paper than last years. We will see if they can gel fast enough to be really good. How fast they gel compared to how fast they decline because of age is the big question that affects how good they will be.

  23. Mike Kurylo

    Hubert: you know, like the fact that it was scientifically proven that the Knicks slipped to 5th place in the East this summer

    First, you’re so lucky. Really, you’re not missing much.

    Second, I know this 5th place thing really rankles Knick fans, but I agree with the sentiment. Not that I think New York has gotten much worse, but that lots of teams have gotten better. Indy was about our strength last year, and got Granger (and Cope). Chicago lost Nate but gets Rose back. New Jersey added the non-Rondo parts of Boston. Each of those teams could have a setback (if Rose isn’t healthy, Kidd can’t coach, etc.) but on paper you have to like them over New York.

  24. Mike Kurylo

    Hubert: Mike K, not attempting to be pedantic here, but all those things are from his first week or two on the job. I feel like that narrative has gone cold for at least a year and was surprised to see it tackled again. It seemed like he was debunking a myth that had collectively been debunked already, at least by this audience.

    I don’t envy these youngster’s having to write for this crowd, and I applaud you giving some of them a shot. I thought I’d volunteer some criticism that I hoped would be helpful.

    Hubert — wasn’t trying to come across as argumentative. Thanks for the constructive comments. Seriously.

  25. flossy

    Garson:
    from rotoworld … Metta World Peace said that he plans to change his name this season.
    “We are going to do do a name change, but I can’t tell you what it is,” World Peace said in an interview with ClevverNews. It’s not expected to be a legal change and he said that process is “too much work.” MWP is a wild card, so it’s not a bad idea to hold off on ordering your number 51 World Peace jersey until this clears up.

    This could be fun…

    My Pick is
    First Name: Artest
    Last Name: Ronald

    He should do a nationally televised special to announce his new name. I’d watch.

  26. lavor postell

    Mike Kurylo: First, you’re so lucky. Really, you’re not missing much.

    Second, I know this 5th place thing really rankles Knick fans, but I agree with the sentiment. Not that I think New York has gotten much worse, but that lots of teams have gotten better. Indy was about our strength last year, and got Granger (and Cope). Chicago lost Nate but gets Rose back. New Jersey added the non-Rondo parts of Boston. Each of those teams could have a setback (if Rose isn’t healthy, Kidd can’t coach, etc.) but on paper you have to like them over New York.

    The Nets added Pierce and Garnett who looked barely functional against the Knicks that in all reality should have been a sweep. The other half of the starting lineup played heavy minutes against an injury ravaged Bulls team and lost on their home floor in 7 games. I don’t think its crazy to think the Knicks are better than them still. A healthy Rose elevates the Bulls to a level right below Miami. I’d rank it as

    1. Miami
    2. Chicago (assuming Rose is 100%)
    T-3. New York, Brooklyn, Indiana

    This Knicks team won 54 games while getting boned by injuries to an insane degree. This team is much younger and deeper in the backcourt than last year’s team (particularly after Kidd forgot how to play basketball on January 1, 2013). If there’s any way we can get Gary Neal and find two competent bigs between now and the beginning of the season I think we’d have a shot against anybody in a 7 game series.

  27. Hubert

    On to some positive feedback for young David, I think the best point he makes is that Woodson really doesn’t have any authority when the game is on the line. The numbers he cited on Melo clearly support this, and any one who watched the Thunder game at MSG (when JR basically held the ball and stood still for 10 seconds before launching a terrible shot) suspected this was an issue.

    Can anyone imagine Pop drawing up a play in the huddle and then no one trying to run it with the game on the line?

  28. Mike Kurylo

    Hubert:
    On to some positive feedback for young David, I think the best point he makes is that Woodson really doesn’t have any authority when the game is on the line.The numbers he cited on Melo clearly support this, and any one who watched the Thunder game at MSG (when JR basically held the ball and stood still for 10 seconds before launching a terrible shot) suspected this was an issue.

    Can anyone imagine Pop drawing up a play in the huddle and then no one trying to run it with the game on the line?

    Most people dream of falling, taking finals, or zombies. My nightmares usually consist of having to interview Popovich.

  29. Hubert

    And players’ nightmares consist of his wrath if they don’t do what he says. Obviously Pop is the best in the business and no player wants to defy him, but I think even an average coach has to be able to draw up a play with the game on the line and have his players respect it. I can’t even remember a Melo game winner since that night in Memphis (just a few weeks after the trade). We’ve been predictable and piss poor in final shot situations, despite the fact that in most other game situations Woodson’s play calling out of a time out has been very good (didn’t we lead the league at one point last year?).

    Basically, with the game on the line, Melo & JR run roughshod over the coach, to the detriment of the team.

  30. Hubert

    Mike Kurylo: New Jersey added the non-Rondo parts of Boston.

    That’s like getting the other Kardashian sisters

    lavor postell: I’d rank it as

    1. Miami
    2. Chicago (assuming Rose is 100%)
    T-3. New York, Brooklyn, Indiana

    I did this a few weeks ago, but I’m going with:

    1. Chicago, 62 wins
    2. Miami, 60
    3. New York, 55
    4. Indiana, 54
    5. Brooklyn, 52

    And I’m only dropping Miami because I think they need to reduce minutes and not try as hard.

    The rest is all fan fiction, but I’m going to tell you it anyway:

    Knicks sweep Wizards in round 1, shock a hobbled Heat team in game 7 on the road in round 2, and face Indiana (who beat Brooklyn and Chicago in 6 games) in the conference finals with home court advantage. We win in 7 games to make the NBA Finals, where we face Oklahoma City, who beat us in 6 games because Kevin Durant shoots 757 Free Throws while Carmelo Anthony only gets to the line 7 times.

    (I’m sorry, I can’t even imagine a fictional world where we win the title.)

  31. Brian Cronin

    See, Artest’s discussion of a new name is why I could never take the MWP name seriously. It is pretty clear that he never took it seriously. It is not like a case like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Those guys were serious about their new names, so of course I was fine with calling them by their new names. Artest, though, is just messing around so I never felt right calling him MWP.

  32. stratomatic

    flossy:
    Moreover, the idea that Woodson’s biggest failure is not cracking down harder on Carmelo Anthony is ridiculous.Do you think Woodson was not paying attention while his predecessor got run out of town because Melo didn’t take to his coaching style?

    I think Woodson got the seal of approval specifically because he agreed to kowtow to all of Melo’s whims about what style to play, how to use him, what players to surround him with, and more importantly, to join CAA.

    D’Antoni refused.

    First he tried to get Melo to play the right way. When he refused, he tried to get rid of him in a trade. That didn’t work so well for him (assuming you are stupid enough to want to coach Melo, his style, and the players he wants to begin with, which D’Antoni is not).

    The Knicks are not being run logically the way they were when Walsh and D’Antoni first took over (not that they didn’t make mistakes). Those guys left because they saw the handwriting on the wall.

    The Knicks are being run by CAA and Melo (look at all the riff raff and overrated players the Knicks are getting that are represented by CAA). Even Woodson HAD TO dump his long time representation and join CAA before getting the seal of approval.

    A bunch of scum bucket thugs are holding Dolan and the Knicks hostage by threatening to take their talented artists to locations other than the Garden and they are bringing in all the scum, has- beens, and never-was players they represent to play for the Knicks and fit with Melo.

  33. Brian Cronin

    Nuggets signed Mozgov to a 3yr/$14M deal. Seems pretty steep for a guy that could likely be a third stringer for most of the season. Not to mention, this could make it more difficult for the Knicks to sign a comparable talent who may look for similar money. What would a guy like Aldrich ask for?

    I think he’s pretty clearly their back-up center. They basically chose between Koufos and Mozgov and went with Mozgov. I agree that it is an overpay, but at least it is an overpay for a back-up center.

  34. Eternal OptiKnist

    I think the rep woody has that is completely bogus is that he’s an old-school, fundamentals, defensive coach. Our defense aside from the 1st month of the season has been awful.

  35. stratomatic

    Brian Cronin: I think he’s pretty clearly their back-up center. They basically chose between Koufos and Mozgov and went with Mozgov. I agree that it is an overpay, but at least it is an overpay for a back-up center.

    They chose McGee as the starter because they have so much invested in him and chose Mozgov because he can shoot a little from outside and fits better with Faried. They quite possibly made a huge mistake because Koufos was one of their only good inside defenders. If McGee doesn’t pan out, they are screwed.

  36. cgreene

    The jury is certainly still out on Woodson. He did some great stuff last year in terms of innovation w 2 pgs, some of the switching tactics on D and showing flexibility and creativity on offense. Tough to blame him for sticking w JR. Riley stuck w Starks. The whole accountability thing is a canard. If you want to use some anecdotal evidence in his favor on that, he certainly could be seen countless times during the year yelling hard in the face of Melo, Tyson and JR. It did not equate to playing time being used as leverage (if that’s the indicator of accountability.) But he wasn’t going to win games by benching Melo (except of course if he replaced him w Ronnie Brewer… hehe).

    The bullcrap being spewed in @35 is just a joke at this point. If one thing has been proven over the past 1.5 seasons it’s the Woodson is a far far better coach at this point in their careers than MDA. MDA was innovative 7 years ago. Other than that he’s been exposed as a poor communicating coach in a job where communication is basically 80% of the job requirement and rigid to “his” (even though countless other teams now use it) system to a fault of enormous proportions.

  37. Juany8

    stratomatic: I think Woodson got the seal of approval specifically because he agreed to kowtow to all of Melo’s whims about what style to play, how to use him, what players to surround him with, and more importantly, to join CAA.

    D’Antoni refused.

    First he tried to get Melo to play the right way. When he refused, he tried to get rid of him in a trade.That didn’twork so well for him (assuming you are stupid enough to want to coach Melo, his style, and the players he wants to begin with, which D’Antoni is not).

    The Knicks are not being run logically the way they were when Walsh and D’Antoni first took over (not that they didn’t make mistakes).Those guys left because they saw the handwriting on the wall.

    The Knicks are being run by CAA and Melo (look at all the riff raff and overrated players the Knicks are getting that are represented by CAA). Even Woodson HAD TO dump his long time representation and join CAA before getting the seal of approval.

    A bunch of scum bucket thugs are holding Dolan and the Knicks hostage by threatening to take their talented artists to locationsother than the Garden and they are bringing in all the scum, has- beens, and never-was players they represent to play for the Knicks and fit with Melo.

    Lol yea D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh were awesome, pissing off your talented played so much that the team falls apart is an awesome strategy, and how dare grunwald give up picks for bargs, not like Walsh gave up a bunch of picks to get rid of players like Jeffries only to overpay for Amare and Melo in the same calendar year. Those were the smart men we were supposed to follow! And of course considering how well deron Williams has done since leaving Utah (but his teammates suck!) I would have loved to make that trade, then we could have 3 max players doing nothing in the playoffs :)

  38. stratomatic

    Juany8: Lol yea D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh were awesome, pissing off your talented played so much that the team falls apart is an awesome strategy, and how dare grunwald give up picks for bargs, not like Walsh gave up a bunch of picks to get rid of players like Jeffries only to overpay for Amare and Melo in the same calendar year. Those were the smart men we were supposed to follow! And of course considering how well deron Williams has done since leaving Utah (but his teammates suck!) I would have loved to make that trade, then we could have 3 max players doing nothing in the playoffs :)

    IMO Walsh & D’Antoni made several mistakes hoping to land Lebron, but at least they were generally getting rid of “problem” and old players, getting younger, trading for upside, accumulating assets and thinking longer term. They just miscalculated their ability to attract Lebron badly and it lead to a panicked move to sign Amare.

    Melo was all on Dolan.

    I will never ever believe that D’Antoni or Walsh wanted that deal. He is diametrically opposed to everything D’Antoni believes about basketball. Dolan wanted the “star” and they were the good soldiers that followed orders. Then they bolted when they realized they lost control of building the team.

    Right now the Knicks are a halfway house for every emotionally unstable and/or derelict player in the NBA that no one else wants. And while accumulating all these “has been”, “never was” and “outpatient” players, they got older, have less upside, have even fewer picks and trade assets, and are going nowhere….unless of course your goal in life is making the playoffs, getting bumped in the 1st or 2nd round, and filling seats at MSG.

  39. stratomatic

    cgreene:

    The bullcrap being spewed in @35 is just a joke at this point.If one thing has been proven over the past 1.5 seasons it’s the Woodson is a far far better coach at this point in their careers than MDA.MDA was innovative 7 years ago.Other than that he’s been exposed as a poor communicating coach in a job where communication is basically 80% of the job requirement and rigid to “his” (even though countless other teams now use it) system to a fault of enormous proportions.

    I’d like to see the job Popovich would have done with Howard, Nash, Gasol, Hill, and Blake either out or way less than 100% for a full year.

    They still weren’t at 100% at the end of the season when they finished at 28-12 once Howard got to about 80% and Nash was only semi crippled.

    Seriously, D’Antoni is not particularly flexible, but that’s because he’s smart enough to know the right way to play and stubborn enough to insist on the right type of players to make that happen. Whether that makes him a bad coach is dependent on whether you want to play the right way or stay employed.

  40. Hubert

    Eternal OptiKnist:
    I think the rep woody has that is completely bogus is that he’s an old-school, fundamentals, defensive coach.Our defense aside from the 1st month of the season has been awful.

    This is another thing that I just can’t believe he has a reputation for. I just assume the people who say these things about him don’t watch his team play.

    When he’s not automatically sending double teams to players in positions you want them to be in (e.g. posting up 12 feet away from the basket), he’s standing by idly while opponents are backdoor cutting his unaccountable 6th man of the year.

    The only thing he should be know for is being a player’s coach whose tough on youngsters. And his toughness on youngsters isn’t a positive attribute. It’s not like a Poppovich toughness on youngsters that actually helps develop them. It’s more like a stubborn ignorance of when his youngsters give him a better chance to win than his veterans.

  41. Spree8nyk8

    Juany8: Lol yea D’Antoni and Donnie Walsh were awesome, pissing off your talented played so much that the team falls apart is an awesome strategy

    Jesus Christ I hate this philosophy so friggin much.

    When you pay someone 100 million dollars, you shouldn’t have to cater to their needs, you should be able to tell them what you expect and have them do it. Melo is not a coach, he’s not in management, he’s a fucking player who doesn’t get to vote.

    What exactly did MDA ask him to do that was so friggin offensive?

    Oh and a side note, I’m not sure who other than Melo was actually pissed off. In the last 23 games the Knicks played with Melo (under MDA) they lost 19 of them, they were 8-1 when he didn’t play though.

    I’m not saying that MDA is anywhere near a great coach, but he got screwed over bad in NY. He sat through 3 seasons and 70 diff players just waiting for stability and when it should have arrived (when Lin emerged as a viable pg to run his offense) Melo squashed it. Same thing is going to happen to him again in LA, and it will be bc of the same reason. Because in this league you need management to empower a coach, not the player. THAT is one of the reasons popovich is so successful, he can get all over any player that wears that uniform knowing that if there ends up being a problem it’s not him that’s going to pack, it’s the player.

    100 million dollars should be enough to convince someone to “buy in”.

  42. stratomatic

    Spree8nyk8:
    Same thing is going to happen to him again in LA, and it will be bc of the same reason.Because in this league you need management to empower a coach, not the player.THAT is one of the reasons popovich is so successful, he can get all over any player that wears that uniform knowing that if there ends up being a problem it’s not him that’s going to pack, it’s the player.

    MDA should go to a small market team.

    He wants to play and coach in a somewhat unconventional way where he makes tradeoffs between offense and defense that are EV+, but very difficult for the average fan to understand.

    In a big market he has blowhard imbeciles like Jalen Rose and Steven A Smith, great ex players, and many others (that quite frankly lack the intellectual firepower to even understand what he’s doing) trashing him on TV and in the press every day. It got to the point where Jeff van Gundy started defending him on TV regularly and calling all his critics morons (in a nice way).

    In a small market he could get away with doing what he wants and the fans would be patient. Then he’d build another major contender.

  43. Zanzibar

    “The ArtEst Formerly Known as Metta World Peace”

    (the ultimate “meta” name!)

  44. BigBlueAL

    I know most here hate D’Antoni but never did and Im a fan of his. Totally agree he would be so much better off coaching a smaller market team with a young roster.

  45. Juany8

    My god Im gonna have to channel my inner THCJ here… Other than a few notable coaches, the vast majority of NBA coaches are totally interchangeable. Suggesting there’s anything, and I mean ANYTHING, special about D’Antoni displays an almost willful ignorance of how the NBA works. The biggest asset a coach can therefore have is getting his players to play hard, and managing their minutes properly. D’Antoni was an utter failure at both, and continues to be so. His offense doesn’t work for every team, and denying this is also delusional, if the pacers tried to play 4 out and running up and down the court, they would get worse… Only D’Antoni would bitch about how he needed players to buy into his system lol.

    Any coach who alienates a player (not to mention multiple players) is wasting an asset that is more valuable to the team than the coach itself. Furthermore, D’Antoni’s offense is so well known and common now that even Woodson ran many of the same sets all year. The only thing that ever made him noteworthy is now gone, and yet he’s still going to literally throw away assets by being a stubborn moron who thought having pau gasol become a stretch forward was a good idea.

  46. Juany8

    On the other hand, it’s always funny to hear people talking about being disappointed with 54 win seasons and second round exits hat we’re going to have (all because of Melo of course) like there’s been anything the Knicks could have done in the past decade to win championships. They then praise they praise the nuggets style of team building, which results in first round exists to inferior teams, or they wish we had gotten Chris Paul instead, a player who has won less than 4 second round playoff games in his entire career. That’s not bias at all

  47. max fisher-cohen

    Stratomatic,

    I disagree with your appraisal of Woodson as simply letting Melo do his thing. Anthony took like 75% more 3s this season than last. He’s playing a lot more off the ball. I think in the case of Anthony, Woodson has done what the best coaches do: made Anthony feel like he’s getting his way when in fact he’s adapting and becoming more efficient.

    It’s sad that Melo is doing a lot of the things now that he refused to do for D’Antoni, and Anthony definitely can improve his decision making, focus and effort level, but I think Woodson has done an above average job of pushing a player with a pretty fragile ego to become more team oriented.

    Problems 1A and 1B with this team are with the roster. I don’t think Woodson is a great coach — he’s conservative and bad at thinking on his feet and his playoff performances have mostly been disappointing. But he’s fine for now. If we get a roster that has reasonable title aspirations, maybe then we consider replacing Woodson.

  48. David Vertsberger Post author

    Hubert:
    If I may launch into constructive critic mode…

    You make some very good points but you are arguing a straw man.The antagonist in this piece seems to be:

    “Phrases like “he holds players accountable,” and “he is respected in the locker room” were, and are, thrown around quite a bit.”

    You didn’t really establish the fact that there is a school of thought that holds those truths about Mike Woodson to be evident before you refuted them.Thus, I don’t understand the need to refute them.I mean, perhaps the MSG Gulag has spewed such nonsense, I don’t know. It sounds like the kind of spiel that I heard early on his tenure after D’Antoni was fired.But I really don’t think any Knicks fans who watch this team play all year believe Mike Woodson is good at holding players accountable.

    Woodson’s strengths are:

    1) He doesn’t antagonize his star.

    2) He’s not as bad as some of the really bad coaches.

    But really I think every Knicks fan knows we need a coaching upgrade.We just don’t trust MSG to get the decision right.Woodson is the devil we know.And this particular audience knows his faults extremely well.

    You’re completely right here, though I’m not certain it’s a strawman. Well, I based this off of a lot of fans’ talk I’ve picked up on over his tenure but never put in the work to see if big media guys said the same thing. That was my mistake. Good job pointing it out, I’ll do better next time!

  49. AvonBarksdale

    This is the article and thread i’ve dreamed about since i noticed the same level of “quit” our team exuded during multiple points throughout the season, they lost horribly to awful teams due to lack of defensive intensity poor defense strategy and just pathetic offense it looked basically the same as when D’Antoni was here for a few games…i don’t care if it’s malaise or apathy or whatever it is but Woodson lost all the honorary titles before we even got to the playoffs where he really let the team fall apart and played himself. i also agree most coaches seem to be interchangeable and CAA has some kind of bizarre influence on the team. I don’t think anyone is gonna be properly motivated when it counts or buy in completely when it really counts but i believe we will be better this year on chemistry and talent alone..as long as we fuck the nets and pacers up all regular season i will enjoy myself..we also owe chicago and houston a severe beating but let me not get too excited.

  50. David Vertsberger Post author

    Hubert:
    If I may launch into constructive critic mode…

    You make some very good points but you are arguing a straw man.The antagonist in this piece seems to be:

    “Phrases like “he holds players accountable,” and “he is respected in the locker room” were, and are, thrown around quite a bit.”

    You didn’t really establish the fact that there is a school of thought that holds those truths about Mike Woodson to be evident before you refuted them.Thus, I don’t understand the need to refute them.I mean, perhaps the MSG Gulag has spewed such nonsense, I don’t know. It sounds like the kind of spiel that I heard early on his tenure after D’Antoni was fired.But I really don’t think any Knicks fans who watch this team play all year believe Mike Woodson is good at holding players accountable.

    Woodson’s strengths are:

    1) He doesn’t antagonize his star.

    2) He’s not as bad as some of the really bad coaches.

    But really I think every Knicks fan knows we need a coaching upgrade.We just don’t trust MSG to get the decision right.Woodson is the devil we know.And this particular audience knows his faults extremely well.

    Quick Google and found these. Melo and Woody talked about accountability and some guy from the Daily News as well:
    http://sportsradiointerviews.com/2012/03/28/carmelo-anthony-mike-woodson-mike-dantoni-amare-stoudemire-knicks/
    http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/14395/woodson-ill-hold-knicks-accountable
    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/knicks/mike-woodson-holds-ny-knicks-accountable-actions-team-missing-coach-mike-antoni-article-1.1047221

  51. AvonBarksdale

    I read all those articles, it was stated repeatedly by all parties and all media outlets, the msg network pundits, the coach himself, the players…it was said repeatedly and definitely we saw flashes and heard some stories to back those allegations…the whole team almost proved it at the end of the season during transition to woodson and start of last season but the minute the hype was there, the guys starting catching the apathy bug or the fouled up chemistry ego shit or coach took his foot off they throat.

  52. Frank O.

    Mike Kurylo: Clearly this is true for only the first 111 Congresses.

    Bold statement. I think there’s the case for “Scrappy” Joseph Taylor Robinson.

    Mike: on the first point, the effectiveness of the House or Congress isn’t the point I was making, although i suspect your point was more sarcasm directed at the body at large. My comment was more about the rules of conduct in both the House and Senate. The senate is SUPPOSED to be laborious to get through. The House is a different animal. Speaker Boehner’s effectiveness is more a reflection of his conference. The GOP is so split right now, if he were to stray too far from the orthodoxy on is right his conference would get a new Speaker. But generally, speakers with his kind of majority lead often can ram throu whatever they want…like the 36 times the House has voted to repeal Obamacare despite the fact it would never get through the Senate. On issues where the GOP is unified, Democrats in the House are powerless to resist.
    But yes, the pat two Congresses have been utterly useless and feckless.
    On Robinson, his New Deal and anti-depression record was pretty amazing, but he had an enormously powerful president on his side, which helped.
    Johnson’s work on voting and civil rights in the face of Dixiecrat resistance is recognized as one of the greatest achievements of deceit and bullying in the history of the Senate. One of those good from bad moments in history.
    Both were men people knew never to fuck with. But thanks for the reminder.

  53. Z-man

    Indiana gave up a first rounder for Scola, we gave one up for Bargnani. Same thing, right?

  54. er

    Z-man:
    Indiana gave up a first rounder for Scola, we gave one up for Bargnani. Same thing, right?

    Scola is good. But is clearly on the decline

  55. hoolahoop

    stratomatic: MDA should go to a small market team.

    He wants to play and coach in a somewhat unconventional way where he makes tradeoffsbetween offense and defense that are EV+, but very difficult for the average fan to understand.

    In a big market he has blowhard imbeciles like Jalen Rose and Steven A Smith, great ex players, and many others (that quite frankly lack the intellectual firepower to even understand what he’s doing) trashing him on TV and in the press every day.It got to the point where Jeff van Gundy started defending him on TV regularly and calling all his critics morons (in a nice way).

    In a small market he could get away with doing what he wants and the fans would be patient.Then he’d build another major contender.

    We had a front row seat of MDA in action and similar to the premise of the title article of this thread, MDA’s genius fits into the category of “say it enough times and people start believing it” . . . but it ain’t so.

  56. hoolahoop

    David Vertsberger, nice article. I’m with you on this one.
    Another case of the “Emperor Wears No Clothes”. Thanks for saying what you see.
    I love how they say that EVERYONE is held accountable by
    Woodson. What BS.

  57. johnno

    Z-man: Indiana gave up a first rounder for Scola, we gave one up for Bargnani. Same thing, right?

    No. Indiana gave up much more than the Knicks did. They gave up a first round pick in next year’s draft and a high upside pick in last year’s draft.

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