The late run the Knicks are making for the playoffs is critical for the future of coach Mike Woodson, whom the Knicks plan to fire if the team falls short of the postseason, a source tells Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com. It’s no surprise, since reports of an imminent firing have dogged Woodson all season, and few around the league have expected the team to retain him beyond this season. New York sits percentage points above the Hawks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Knicks are one game behind Atlanta in the loss column.
The Knicks were reportedly evaluating Woodson on a game-by-game basis in December and appeared close to ousting him in February, but he’s remained on the bench, even as the team took GM Steve Mills‘ title of president and gave it to the newly hired Phil Jackson. Knicks owner James Dolan was publicly supportive of Woodson in November, but he’s since promised to let Jackson make all of the team’s basketball decision. Jackson, in his introductory press conference last month, praised Woodson but offered no guarantee that the coach would be back next season. Woodson’s contract became guaranteed for 2014/15 when the Knicks picked up their team option on him this past September.
Woodson’s future with the team has looked so grim that today’s news could be interpreted as a glimmer of hope, since it suggests the team might hang on to him if it reaches the postseason. Still, the Knicks seem unlikely to make a run if they reach the playoffs, with a matchup against the Heat or the Pacers almost a certainty, as Scotto notes.