Knicks Likely to fire Mike Woodson during All-Star Break

mike-woodson-knicks-firedIt’s safe to say that this year hasn’t exactly gone how the New York Knicks had hoped it would. Following a season where they finished 54-28 and made the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Knicks are sitting at 20-30 with 32 games to go. They currently trail the Charlotte Bobcats by two games for the East’s eight playoff seed.

Given the huge drop-off that New York has experienced this year, somebody has to take the blame for this mess. And according to head coach Mike Woodson, that person could very well be him.

“This year has been, for me, it’s been kind of a disaster from a coaching standpoint in trying to get players to compete and play at a high level,” Woodson recently told ESPN radio. “That’s the frustrating part about it, because I know we’re better than what we’ve shown and we’ve still got a chance.”

Woodson went on to say that he thinks he and all of his assistants, except for Herb Williams, will be fired during the upcoming All-Star break. Assuming everything goes as he predicts, Williams will serve as the interim head coach, a role which he had after Lenny Wilkens resigned in 2005.

mike-woodson-knicks-fired-1The Knicks locker room seems divided on whether or not they want Woodson to remain the head coach. J.R. Smith is one player who has publicly given his support for the embattled head coach. However, other players are reportedly tired of Woodson’s criticism of the team’s effort.

After an 11-year career as a player, Mike Woodson served as an assistant coach for several teams from 1996-2004. He then landed the Atlanta Hawks head coaching job in 2004 and compiled a 206-286 record in six seasons there. In his last three years, Woodson guided the Hawks to three straight playoff bids. But after being swept by the Orlando Magic in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, his contract wasn’t renewed.

However, Woodson quickly found an assistant gig with the Knicks, under head coach Mike D’Antoni. When D’Antoni resigned, Woodson became the interim head coach and led New York to a 36-30 regular season record during his tenure. They would lose their first-round playoff series 4-1 to the Miami Heat.

The team got even better under him last season and tallied the aforementioned 54-28 record. Unfortunately, the Knicks seem to be regressing under Woodson in the 2013-14 season.

Should the Lakers fire Mike D’Antoni?

mike-dantoniDating back to last year, the circumstances of the Los Angeles Lakers hiring Mike D’Antoni seemed a little strange. Public perception was that the Lakers might re-hire Phil Jackson after Mike Brown was quickly ousted. But when D’Antoni was quickly tabbed to fill the Lakers’ head coaching role, it became clear that management didn’t want to be under Jackson’s thumb once again.

But even if they didn’t want Jackson assuming his over-expanded role, picking D’Antoni was still a strange choice. He later admitted that he never spoke with Dr. Jerry Buss before the hiring and couldn’t believe that they gave him the job. This didn’t seem to be a popular choice among fans, but given D’Antoni’s resume, it wasn’t the worst choice either.

He led Los Angeles to a 40-32 record in his shortened season, despite fighting an impossible battle to gel parts like Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard together. Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant’s season-ending achillies tendon injury wiped out any hope of a deep playoff run. In fact, Los Angeles looked totally outmatched when San Antonio swept them in the first round.

kobe-bryantThe offseason didn’t do D’Antoni any better since Buss died, Howard went to Houston in free agency and Bryant was set to miss the first few weeks of the 2013-14 season. But D’Antoni certainly didn’t spend any time whining, instead coaching L.A. to a 10-9 record to start the season. This was actually a pretty amazing coaching job when one considers that Chris Kaman, Jordan Farmar and Steve Nash all spend time on the injury list.

With a winning record and Bryant returning from injury, things were looking up for the Lakers. But then Bryant got injured once again, leaving his team down a 16-time All-Star. Still, the team pressed on and managed to sit at 13-13 and within striking distance of the playoffs. This will no doubt be the Lakers’ peak, though, because they’ve since lost 17 out of their last 20 games.

This stretch has not only put L.A. out of playoff contention in the loaded Western Conference, but it’s also put D’Antoni on a very hot seat. Sure they’d still have a shot at the postseason if they were in the East, but they’re not. This team is now simply hoping to avoid the Pacific Division cellar, a spot which they currently tie for with Sacramento.

Looking at Los Angeles’ 16-30 record, there’s more than enough reason to fire Mike D’Antoni at this point. This is the Lakers after all and they’re not satisfied with losing. Of course, we merely need to look at all of the team’s injuries to make excuses for keeping D’Antoni a while longer. It seems that L.A. management is now facing a very tough decision with the guy whom they mysteriously chose as their coach last year.

Mike D’Antoni laughs at Dwight Howard’s Move to Houston

FILE: New York Knicks Head Coach D'Antoni ResignsIt’s safe to declare that Dwight Howard’s lone year in Los Angeles was a pretty big failure. Now this isn’t to say that Howard didn’t produce or do what the Lakers expected. He did after all average 17.1 PPG, 12.4 RPG and 2.4 BPG. But considering his own personal standards and the expectations placed on L.A. last year, failure is the only word that perfectly describes the result.

With the addition of Howard at center, some analysts expected the Lakers to win the 2013 NBA Championship. Instead, L.A. spent the entire year evoking predictions on if they’d make the postseason. Despite Kobe Bryant going down with a Achilles tendon tear, the Lakers did slide into the playoffs with a 45-37 record – good enough for the seventh seed. But they were quickly swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

To make matters worse, Howard was quite unhappy with his lack of low-post touches and head coach Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense. In the end, it all added up to the 9-year veteran leaving for what he deems to be greener pastures in Houston.

The Rockets, who also finished with a 45-37 record, have immediately become a contender with Howard, James Harden and a strong supporting cast. But will everything be as rosy as Howard thinks?

dwight-howardNot according to D’Antoni, who laughed at where his former starting center went via free agency. The Los Angeles Daily News wrote the following about coach D’Antoni’s statement:

“The thing that cracks me up is Houston, they do the exact same thing,” D’Antoni said, laughing. “And so (Howard) is gonna go to Houston? OK, so did they talk about change there? Don’t tell me that it’s that different.”

D’Antoni wishes Howard well, but does think he needs to accept what makes him a special player rather than envision himself as something he isn’t yet and may never be.

“He’s a force and he can be really, really good and dominate the league,” D’Antoni said. “But it’s in an area that he’s not loving right now. He wants to dominate a different way, in the low post and all that. But he needs to get better there, and he will. But his greatness is in defense and being a physical force. I think he’d be better served if he embraces that.

dwight-howardIt appears as if D’Antoni has a point since Houston’s team isn’t exactly built to play a halfcourt game and run the offense through Howard. Instead, they have a number of guys who can run the floor like Harden, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverley, Francisco Garcia and Carlos Delfino.

Taking these players into account, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale is going to have his work cut out trying to succeed where D’Antoni failed. It’s not easy trying to transform a fast-break offense into one that can absorb Howard’s talents without wasting them.

But if Houston is truly to become the contender that they want to be next season, they’ll have to find a perfect blend. Perhaps the best place to start would be looking at clips of the Los Angeles Lakers from last year and doing the exact opposite of what they did.

Assuming you’ve got a vested interest in how the Rockets do next year, keep in mind that GTBets.eu has the Rockets at 12:1 odds of winning the 2014 NBA Championship. The Lakers, on the other hand, aren’t looking quite as good in the 2014 NBA futures category. Right now, they’re only being given 45:1 odds of winning the championship next season.

Kobe Bryant not Happy – Lakers continue to struggle

A few weeks ago, we did a piece on if the LA Lakers were a playoff team or not. Our general consensus was that the Lakers were likely to make the playoffs because of the following:

1) Steve Nash wasn’t playing at the time.
2) LA was more talented than other teams chasing playoff spots.
3) The Lakers were only 1 1/2 games behind the West’s eighth seed.
4) Only a quarter of the NBA season had been played.

Well Steve Nash is back, the 2012-2013 NBA is over halfway finished, and LA is now 4 games behind Houston for the eighth seed. Following a 106-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, the Lakers are now eight games below .500. This being said, it’s starting to look questionable as to whether or not this team can really make the postseason.

Not surprisingly, Kobe Bryant isn’t happy about his team’s performance on the season. And Bryant was sounding more like a coach than player when he stated:

We need to go back to basics. We need to put guys in positions to do what they do best. We need to strip it down. Steve is best in pick-and-roll. Pau is best in the post. I’m best from the free-throw line extended down. Let’s go back to basics.

We’ve got to evaluate what’s going on. Management is looking at it. The players are looking at it. I’m looking at myself. I’m shooting a low percentage right now, and I’ve got to look at that. It’s on me to make shots, but I’m having to make tough shots, getting the ball 30 feet from the basket and (expletive) like that.

Besides discussing some of the general things that LA needs to do to change things around, Bryant also talked about Dwight Howard’s discontent on offense. Howard thinks he needs to touch the ball more, as evidenced by his declining scoring average. However, Kobe doesn’t quite agree with this since he said:

I’ve tried to go out of my way to get him the ball. Sometimes I end up looking like an idiot, because I get up in the air, I’ve got a shot, but I try to find him. But he thinks I’m going to shoot, so his back is turned. I’m trying to think about getting him the ball a lot – take care of him as much as I possibly can. It takes me out of rhythm a little bit, but I’m fine with that. If that’s going to help our team, I’m more than willing to do that.

Bryant and Howard aren’t the only two players who are frustrated during the LA Lakers trying times. Pau Gasol seems to have gotten the worst of the deal since he’s been forced to shift from center to power forward because of Howard’s arrival. The end result is that Gasol is shooting a career-low 43.1% from the floor while often playing outside the paint.

Thanks to his struggles, coach Mike D’Antoni replaced Gasol in the starting lineup with Earl Clark. We’re not sure if this is a designed motivational move to get Pau playing better, or D’Antoni truly thinks that Earl is a better fit in the starting lineup. Clark has provided a nice boost off the bench, but Gasol is a four-time All-Star who was part of two championship Lakers teams.

In any case, Bryant, Howard, Gasol and the rest of the Lakers need to find a solution to the team’s struggles sooner than later. If they don’t, this club could be among the NBA’s biggest bust in history….if not the biggest bust.