Rumors about Woodson's job security swirled throughout 2013-2014, and the front office never backed him up. When Phil Jackson took over as president of basketball operations, it was even more widely assumed that his days were numbered. With lofty expectations, New York finished 37-45 this season. That was good for just ninth in the dismal Eastern Conference.
"The time has come for franchise throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond," Jackson said in a press release.
Where will Carmelo go?
Carmelo Anthony sounds like a guy ready to leave
'Melo addressed the media on Thursday. He sounds like he's done in New York.
Where will Carmelo go?
Jackson will lead the coaching search, and as a long-time practitioner of the triangle offense, he has said repeatedly that he will look for someone who believes in system basketball. Steve Kerr wants to get into coaching and is thought to be the leading candidate. However with Woodson not yet dismissed, Jackson wouldn't talk about the possibility on Sunday, according to the New York Daily News.
Star forward Carmelo Anthony will opt out of the final year of his contract as a free agent in July, and the Knicks' main priority is convincing him to return. Anthony has publicly praised the Jackson hiring, but also expressed his support for Woodson at his end-of-season media availability, via ESPN New York:
"To be honest with you, Mike Woodson, he and I have become, he's been a guy that I can talk to, almost a father figure, a friend, a guy that I can bounce stuff off," Anthony said when asked about Woodson. "I've been a guy he's talked to multiple times, about multiple things in different situations.
"If he needs my recommendation whether it's here or anywhere else, I'll back him," Anthony said. "I have nothing bad to say about Mike Woodson. I support him. For me as a player, I had some of my best years under Mike Woodson. So I would never have anything bad to say about Mike Woodson."
New York stumbled through the first 20 games, going 5-15 including a nine-game losing streak. The team held a players-only meeting just four games into the season following a loss to the Charlotte Bobcats and Carmelo Anthony urged his teammates to play with more effort. In February, the Knicks lost 11 of 14 games. They didn't gain traction until the home stretch, dealing with injuries and chemistry issues. New York finished the year winning 16 of 21, but that wasn't even enough to squeak into the postseason after the awful start.
Posting and toasting
Woodson struggled with handling the roster, having problems with both J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert throughout the year. Smith had several issues with Woodson, leading to multiple benchings and fines from the NBA. Shumpert struggled to find his role in the rotation, leading the team to reportedly claim Woodson's poor coaching was the cause of his struggles as leverage in trade discussions.
After an embarrassing loss in January, Tyson Chandler said the Knicks were "out-schemed." Last Thursday, Chandler said there was "some disconnect" between Woodson and the players, and Amar'e Stoudemire said there were times when they "didn't totally buy into" the game plan, according to the New York Daily News. The writing was on the wall when Woodson did not take part in New York's exit interviews.
Drew Garrison and James Herbert contributed to this story.