James Dolan Talks Woodson, Isiah, Amar’e

Knicks owner James Dolan doesn’t speak to the media often, but amidst his team’s 3-8 start to the 2013/14 season, he sat down with Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post for a Q&A. While there was no mention of the Knicks’ peculiar decision to keep Chris Smith on the roster, or any discussion of Carmelo Anthony‘s long-term future, Dolan did provide a few comments on topics of interest. Let’s round up a few of the highlights….

On whether Mike Woodson‘s job is safe:

“I have a lot of confidence in Woodson, and one thing I can say about Mike is he has the respect of all the players. They all respect him. And he treats them fairly and relatively equally, and that’s part of where the respect emanates from. And those are hard things to get from a coach. When a coach loses a team… that’s when a coach is kind of done.”

On comparing this year’s team to last year’s squad, which started off 18-5:

“You know what? I wouldn’t take last year’s team for this year’s team, because this year’s team is more designed to be a playoff team, whereas last year’s team was 18-5 but look who was playing: we had Rasheed Wallace who was doing everything for us, right? And we just started losing player after player… by the time we got to the playoffs that 18-5 team wasn’t the team that was playing in the playoffs. If they were I think we would’ve beaten Indiana.”

On replacing GM Glen Grunwald with Steve Mills just before camp got underway:

“I didn’t time it, per se, like that. I’m surprised other folks were surprised about this. The general manager’s work doesn’t really occur at that time of year. If you’re going to change general managers that’s probably the right time to do it. The next available trade date is December 15th¹. You’ve just finished free agency and all that. It’s a lull period. The timing didn’t really have much to do with that.”

On whether he’d ever bring back Isiah Thomas:

“Do I think he deserves another shot? Yeah. It just can’t be here. And I think he’s talented. I think he’s particularly talented at finding basketball talent. But I think he’s probably dismayed at this point. But I don’t see him coming back to New York. I couldn’t do that to him, and I couldn’t do that to the organization. He would probably do it as my friend, but I couldn’t do it to him or his family. And you know what the press would do here. We’re interested in getting better and that situation would be such a distraction that it would actually hinder our ability to get better.”

On whether he’d like a mulligan on signing Amar’e Stoudemire:

“Nope…. We would not be where we are today without Amar’e. That summer, the summer of “The Decision,” there were a whole bunch of free agents, and the guys put their thing together in Miami, and Amar’e agreed to come to the Knicks, gave us a launch pad by which we could convince the other guys like Tyson [Chandler] to come, and ultimately Carmelo to come play with us. Do I think Carmelo would have come if we didn’t have Amar’e? No, I don’t think he would’ve. These free agents, when you get to this level of player — the Carmelos, the LeBrons, the Durants — the first thing they want before the money or anything else is to be on a winning team. They’ve got to believe they have a shot.”

¹ Trades can be made prior to December 15th, but most players signed this offseason can’t be dealt until after that date.

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