VIDEO: The GameTime crew breaks down the final plays of the Knicks’ loss Monday
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It won’t be cheerful around Mike Woodson‘s household come Christmas — provided the embattled New York Knicks’ coach lasts that long.
Woodson did the right thing Monday night, manning up to his failings in the final stages of the Knicks’ gut-punch loss to Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards.
But his own words may well cost him his job.
“I probably should have taken it, the timeout, there at the end,” Woodson said after the final frantic moments of what New Yorker’s have already crowned the “Manhattan Meltdown.”
Woodson didn’t call the timeout to organize his troops in those chaotic final seconds. His team didn’t foul Beal before he was able to glide to the rim, basically uncontested, for the game-winning layup. In the waning ticks of the clock, Woodson stood silently, with three timeouts unused.
So it was left to Carmelo Anthony to try to atone for his coach’s mistake. Melo’s desperation heave at the buzzer couldn’t salvage a disastrous situation.
Then things got really bad for Woodson.
“I should’ve reacted a lot sooner once the ball went through the bucket,” Woodson said of Beal’s game-winner, “so that’s on me … It happened so fast.”
Woodson, of course, will serve as the sacrifice, but there’s a much bigger failure by the organization here. After all, he’s not the one who made the personnel decisions that have left the Knicks with a mismatched roster of players incapable of repeating what last season’s Atlantic Division-winning crew did. He’s not the one playing defense. (Or, as in the Knicks’ case, not playing defense).
That said, someone has to serve as the fall guy. And firing the coach is often the only way to pacify an uneasy fan base.
Is it fair? Probably not. It usually isn’t. But Woodson and the other members of the NBA’s coaching fraternity are paid handsomely to shoulder this sort of burden. They get hired knowing that the ending is usually an ugly one, with the coach being shown the door without any of the pomp and circumstance that accompanied the process on the front end.
“As far as I’m concerned he’s secure right now,” Anthony said in defense of the coach that engineered the Knicks’ 54-win season a year ago. “I haven’t heard anything. Nothing to discuss, so he’s our coach and we’re rolling with him.”
The other words he spoke, however, are the ones that will resonate with the masses.
“We were supposed to call a timeout, we didn’t, and we lost the game,” Anthony said. “If he said it’s his fault, then it’s his fault. There’s no need for me to talk about that or make excuses for it.”
The chances of Woodson turning this around any time soon are remote. Tyson Chandler‘s return from injury won’t save him. Neither will compliance from J.R. Smith. Jim Dolan‘s vote of confidence at this point will serve only to stir the drama.
So the rumors will persist. Rumblings about the Knicks pursuing the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau as a potential replacement/savior will no doubt intensify, stoked furiously by the New York media machine.
And Woodson will bear the brunt of it all. Because, fair or not, this is on him.