"Leave no stone unturned."
I don't think you want to take sports franchise building advice from the New York Jets too often these days, but the above quote is something you hear Jets' General Manager Mike Tannenbaum say quite a bit. It's a sort of mantra he and team live by, it's why guys like Plaxico Burress and Tim Tebow and Brett Favre were acquired at different points during this current Jets regime.
The New York Knicks have been one of the most futile organizations in all of American sport over the past decade plus, and maybe this Jets' philosophy might be something they want to try out. We'll never really know for sure what the Knicks' interest in Phil Jackson was. Did they reach out to his representatives at all? Or did they leave the biggest stone of them all untouched and decide from the start that they were keeping things in house, as has been the norm since James Dolan and the cloud of Creative Artists' Agency hang over one of the NBA's biggest franchises?
Mike Woodson will officially be the Knicks' new head coach. While there are some on-court positives to the expected hiring, it feels a bit disappointing that the Knicks perhaps didn't do their due diligence here. Jackson is out there, and there are rumblings that despite his age, Jerry Sloan is interested in a return to the sidelines. Why not wait until the end of the season, when another coach might be available? What if the Miami Heat inexplicably drop two straight and lose in seven to Indiana later this week? Erik Spoelstra would almost certainly become available in that case. Would you rather have Spoelstra or Woodson? It's certainly a good debate, at the very least.
But after Woodson reportedly fired his old agent and hired CAA to represent him, the stars were aligned for The Garden to keep pushing forward its weird, twisted off-court agenda. On the court though, which is what most fans truly care about, Mike Woodson will be the one now tasked with trying to figure out how Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and (likely) Jeremy Lin can all play together. Mike Woodson, he of the 12-22 career playoff coaching record, is now the man.
The Knicks were much better in 2012 after Mike D'Antoni resigned and Mike Woodson took over. He led the Knicks to an 18-6 record, including an 11-1 home mark in the regular season. New York finally broke a league-record 13 game playoff losing streak in Game 4 of their first round series against the Heat. Under Woodson, Anthony played his best basketball as a Knick, routinely putting up 30-plus point efforts while shooting as efficiently as he had all year. Problem was, while I'm a proponent of putting the ball in your best player's hands, the Knick offense did become a bit too stagnant under Woodson. In his short Knicks tenure he has proved that his best asset as a coach is his defensive teaching and accountability, but he does lack in offensive fluency and adjustments.
Woodson will have a whole training camp, preseason and, barring a disaster, a full season to shape the Knicks into a team that can contend in the East. The Knicks need to finally make a legitimate step, and that means an Atlantic Division crown and a top-4 seed. The Celtics are aging and the Knicks have more talent than the Sixers. Yes, the Knicks do have very crucial roster moves that need to be made. Let's hope, perhaps unlike their coaching "search", they turn over all the stones.