Knicks Fire Coach Woodson in Phil Jackson’s First Major MoveEben Novy-Williams
Mike Woodson was fired as coach of the New York Knicks in the first major move by Phil Jackson since he became team president last month.
Woodson and his entire staff were dismissed after the team failed to reach the National Basketball Association playoffs. The Knicks wrapped up their season April 16 with a 95-92 home victory over the Toronto Raptors to finish with a 37-45 record.
“The coaches and players on this team had an extremely difficult 2013-14 season, and blame should not be put on one individual,” Jackson said in an e-mailed release. “But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond.”
The search for a new staff will begin immediately, the team said.
Woodson last year guided the Knicks to their first playoff series victory since 2000. Without the injured Tyson Chandler for 20 games early this season, the team opened 3-13 to the disappointment of team owner James Dolan, who told the New York Post in November that he thought the Knicks, after going 54-28 last season, had the pieces in place to win an NBA title.
The team began the season ranked 10th of 30 NBA teams with championship odds of 25-1, according to Bovada.lv. ESPN reported in October that Dolan told Knicks coaches and executives that he expected this year’s team to win the franchise’s first title since 1973.
Instead -- hampered in part by injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, Kenyon Martin, Andrea Bargnani and Beno Udrih during a two-week stretch in the beginning of February -- the team finished 11 games behind the first-place Raptors in the Atlantic Division. The Knicks were eliminated from playoff contention on April 12, with three games remaining.
After beating the Milwaukee Bucks in their season opener, the Knicks lost 13 of their next 15 games. In the middle of a February stretch in which the team lost six of seven games, Woodson told ESPN Radio in New York that he didn’t have the team playing to its potential.
“This year has been, for me, it’s been kind of a disaster from a coaching standpoint in trying to get players to compete and play at a high level,” Woodson said. “That’s the frustrating part about it. Because I know we’re better than what we’ve shown.”
In a bid to reverse the slide, the team last month hired Jackson, a former Knick who has won an NBA-record 11 titles as a coach, to oversee all basketball decisions.
An immediate issue facing Jackson and Woodson’s successor is the future of Carmelo Anthony, New York’s leading scorer from each of the past four seasons. The All-Star forward has said he may opt out of his contract and become a free agent this offseason.
Shares in Madison Square Garden Co., the parent company of the Knicks and the National Hockey League’s Rangers, opened at $55.44 today. The stock in July reached $62.66, the highest since it began trading in 2010.
Woodson became coach in March 2012 after the Knicks fired Mike D’Antoni, going 18-6 to finish the season. The following year New York won its first Atlantic Division title since 1993-94 and went on to beat the Boston Celtics in the playoffs before losing to the Indiana Pacers. Entering this season, Woodson’s .679 winning percentage was second in franchise history behind Pat Riley (.680).
In parts of three seasons, Woodson had an overall record of 109-79. His assistants were Jim Todd, Darrell Walker and Herb Williams, who was in his 12th season as a Knicks coach.
New York is the NBA’s most valuable franchise at $1.1 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. MSG Co. in October completed a $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks had the third-highest average home attendance in the league this season.