New York Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson had his option for next season picked up prior to training camp. That’s good for Woodson, but it’s really nothing to read into as it was really just a formality. The Knicks couldn’t enter the season with a lame-duck coach, so by no reason is Woodson’s job safe for the long-term.
Unfortunately for Woodson, with the 2013-14 season ready to begin soon, he is going to have his hands full and sadly keeping his job may have nothing to with wins and losses.
Mar 21, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson talks with guardJ.R. Smith
(8) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Knicks defeated the Sixers 82-79. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
I don’t envy Woodson one bit as his job this season may be the most difficult one in the league, as Woodson may have to be more than a coach this season, he may have to be the NBA’s highest paid babysitter.
On the positive side of things, this Knicks team has all of the elements needed to put together a very good season on the court.
However on the negative side of things, this Knicks team has all of the elements to also blow up in historic fashion both on and off the court.
It’s a coach’s job to put players in spots to best help the team achieve the ultimate goal. That is something that won’t be Woodson’s problem. Say what you want about his coaching style and whether or not the Knicks can win in the postseason with Woodson, but success on the court right now is probably the least of his worries.
The big problem is controlling all the potential drama and not letting things get out of hand.
Woodson’s main problem is preventing the Carmelo Anthony drama from getting out of hand.
That is something that is going to be easier said than done.
Until Anthony’s name is on the dotted line signing a max deal with the Knicks, Anthony’s situation has the potential to turn into the same type of circus that LeBron James saw during his last year in Cleveland, or much worse, the circus that was Dwight Howard the past two years.
You can think all you want that Anthony may end up in a Knicks uniform for the rest of his career, but until he signs that contract, it is going to turn into a circus.
You think that Anthony’s pending decision won’t affect Woodson? Ask Mike Brown about that in Cleveland. While you are at it, ask Stan Van Gundy in Orlando the same question. Things didn’t work out so well for those guys.
That’s a distraction that this Knicks team doesn’t need this season.
Oh, but that’s not close to being all Woodson has to worry about.
In addition to Anthony, you have to add the drama that J.R. Smith will bring both on and off the court.
It is easy to think that Woodson could control Smith’s antics, but we saw last year that is something that likely can’t be done. Like him or hate him, Smith is a guy who brings drama and unneeded distractions to a team that doesn’t need them.
Both of these situations are great for a writer, as both Anthony and Smith will provide constant material to write about, but it’s not such a good situation for a coach and a team trying to win a championship.
But that’s not it.
Add Metta World Peace to that mix and things have to potential to get out of hand in a big way.
World Peace is a guy that can help this Knicks team win on the floor. Unfortunately, he also has a history of going off the deep end at times, which is also something this team doesn’t need.
The easiest way for Woodson to avoid all of the distractions is to simply win. Get off to a good start and maintain things throughout the season. When you are winning, distractions are less magnified. When you are winning, Anthony’s free agency and Smith acting like a fool can be tolerable.
But what happens if this team struggles?
If this Knicks team doesn’t play great basketball and struggles to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, all of those distractions become magnified and will become bigger stories than anything the Knicks do on the floor.
This three-man circus has the potential to blow up in a big way and send the Knicks in a downward spiral.
Without a doubt Woodson has his hands full with the extreme personalities on this Knicks roster.
How he handles things may not only determine Anthony’s future, but his own.
The best hope Woodson has to control things is to handle things on the floor. To steal a quote from the late Al Davis, “Just Win Baby.”
If he doesn’t, this circus could turn out to be pretty entertaining.
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