The Knicks have announced the firing of coach Mike Woodson and his staff. The move has been expected nearly all season long, as the team struggled to a 37-45 record after winning 54 games and advancing to the conference semifinals last year. Woodson was under contract through next season, and presumably he’ll still receive his $3.4MM salary for 2014/15.
The move follows a meeting between Woodson and Knicks president Phil Jackson, notes Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It’s Jackson’s first major move with the club, which hired him to run the front office last month.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Woodson and his entire staff,” Jackson said in the team’s statement. “The coaches and players on this team had an extremely difficult 2013/14 season, and blame should not be put on one individual. 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. Everyone in this franchise owes a great deal of gratitude to what Mike and his staff have done. We wish him the best.”
Carmelo Anthony threw his support behind Woodson last week, but it wasn’t enough to save the job of the coach who went 109-79 in parts of three seasons with the Knicks. He was an assistant coach with the Knicks when he took the head coaching job late in the 2011/12 season after the team let go of Mike D’Antoni. Woodson went 18-6 that year and guided the team to the playoffs, where they lost to the eventual champion Heat in the first round.
The narrative was a positive one for Woodson until last year’s playoff loss to the Pacers. Marc Berman of the New York Post suggested Sunday that when the Knicks exercised their 2014/15 team option on Woodson before this season began, they knew it was unlikely he’d actually coach the team that season unless the team made it to the conference finals this year. Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops reported earlier this month that the Knicks planned to fire Woodson if the team’s late push for the playoffs fell short, and indeed the ax fell soon after New York finished in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a game out of the final playoff spot.
Assistants Herb Williams, Jim Todd, Darrell Walker, Jerry Dunn, David Hopla and LaSalle Thompson join Woodson in exiting the Knicks, who begin their search for a new head coach at once, according to the team’s statement. Steve Kerr appears to be the front-runner, though there are conflicting reports about whether he’d jump at the job.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.