During a media conference call Monday morning, Knicks interim head coach Mike Woodson was asked about his future.
"Right now, it's not about Mike Woodson and my contract and where I go from here," he said. "I was given an opportunity to coach this team, I'm still coaching this team and the job is not done. When that time comes, I'm sure everybody will sit down and talk about my future, but right now, that's not my concern. My concern is Game 5 right now. I'm trying to get these guys to win."
After coaching the team to an 18-6 record to end the regular season, directing them to their first playoff win in 11 years was another important step for Woodson to prove he can change the culture of the team. He will no question be a frontrunner for the job next season, but there has been a lot of speculation about Phil Jackson being the top candidate.
Jackson, at this point, has not publicly commented about the position. A veteran NBA scout told ESPNNewYork.com that other sideline bosses who should be considered include: Alvin Gentry, Scott Skiles, Keith Smart and Monty Williams. He also named Elston Turner as a dark horse. The scout argued that they hold team offense and defense to the same standard, and orchestrate great sets pregame and out of timeouts. He also called them "player coaches" who would quickly earn the respect from his staff and personnel.
While Woodson has proven he can coach defense by pushing every player to be accountable for their actions, the biggest question is: Can he blend in potentially Jeremy Lin and pick-and-roll playmking (featuring Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler) with isolation offense from Carmelo Anthony. Because of injuries, Woodson didn't have ample time to prove they could all work together consistently on the court.
Mostly with Melo on the court, Woodson demonstrated the coaching style he used in Atlanta from 2005 to 2010, when he ran sets through Joe Johnson. Woodson's philosophy is traditional basketball works, but the Knicks could have one of the most talented and diverse starting fives in the league next season, which will require a combination of creativity and sacrifice from the players to make things work.
Of course, the Knicks face a pressing list of many long-term questions. The ongoing ones have included: Will Anthony and Stoudemire ever really be able to co-exist, or will a trade be necessary? Will Lin, J.R. Smith and Steve Novak re-sign? If not, what backups and other players will be interested in signing for less because the Knicks are locked up in three hefty contracts for Anthony, Stoudemire and Chanlder?
But the biggest one is: Who will coach the team next season? That's where it all starts.
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