Tyson: 'Fire Woodson' chants 'unwarranted'

Those "Fire Woodson" chants? They're "unwarranted."

So says Tyson Chandler, who came to Mike Woodson's defense a day after a small group of fans called for Woodson's job late in the Knicks' 29-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day.

"I feel like it's unwarranted. This is New York City, so there's going to be a lot of things happening," Chandler said after practice Thursday. "Media is going to ... try to fight to find that person to blame, and in this situation, I don't necessarily think it's right."

At 9-19, the Knicks have performed well below preseason expectations. Owner James Dolan told staffers before the season that he expected to win a championship.

But no one is planning a parade as the Knicks sit in a tie for third place in the awful Atlantic Division.

Due to the team's poor performance, there has been plenty of public speculation over Woodson's job security.

But it's unfair to blame all of the Knicks' struggles on The Goatee.

New York has dealt with plenty of injuries this season. Chandler missed six weeks due to a fractured right fibula. Pablo Prigioni is out at least another week with a broken toe, and Kenyon Martin missed five games with an abdominal issue. Raymond Felton has missed 11 games due to various ailments, and most recently, the Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony on Christmas Day due to an ankle sprain.

Woodson was asked Thursday about the idea that he deserved a chance to coach the team when it's fully healthy.

He didn't want to get deep into the issue but hinted that he thinks the Knicks will turn things around shortly -- and he'll be on the sideline when they do.

"Do I see some light at the end of the tunnel? I do. I think eventually we'll get to where we need to get as a ball club," Woodson said. "And I'm basing that on our last 12 games [in which the Knicks went 6-6]. Eventually, we'll get healthy and we'll see how it all plays out. The beauty about all of this that we're going through is nobody's running away with it in our division, and I'm pushing our team to win our division still."

New York enters play Thursday just three games behind the first-place Raptors in the Atlantic Division. If the Knicks win both games of a back-to-back with Toronto that starts Friday night, they can be one game out of first by the end of the week.

"We won it last year, and I expect us to win it this year," Woodson said of the division title.

But will Woody be around for the celebration?

No one from the Knicks' front office or ownership has commented publicly on Woodson's status in recent days. Dolan gave the coach a public vote of confidence Nov. 20. In doing so, Dolan cited the importance of a coach's players being confident in him. Woodson doesn't seem to have lost his locker room; players continue to show him public support.

But the Knicks' struggles have continued since Dolan issued the vote of confidence.

New York is just 6-11 since Dolan's comments, including a 41-point loss to Boston on Dec. 8 and a 15-point loss to Cleveland two days later.

Another embarrassing defeat came on Dec. 16, when Woodson and the Knicks made several mistakes late in a one-point loss to the Wizards, one of which was failing to call a timeout to set up a final possession.

Chandler on Thursday defended Woodson in that instance.

"I was there in that game when he told guys we have a timeout and we got to foul. Guys didn't execute it. That's not the coach's fault," Chandler said. "We have to then take it upon ourselves as players. And there's been several situations, whether it's been game plan, whether it's strategy, where each player is in the right position to succeed and we haven't succeeded."

If Chandler is right, it's unfair to place all the blame at Woodson's feet. But in a general sense, the coach is usually the first employee to lose his or her job in pro sports when a team plays well below expectations.

A source with knowledge of the team's thinking told ESPNNewYork.com earlier this month that Woodson is being evaluated on a game-by-game basis by upper management.

Understandably, Woodson wasn't interested in talking in detail about his future Thursday.

"The bottom line is I'm the coach of this team. I have very high standards in terms of what I do and what I expect players to do. And it starts with me," Woodson said. "I understand that. I won't ever run away from that as a coach."

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