New York Knicks owner James Dolan rarely talks to the media, so when he does, it's kind of a big deal. Dolan hadn't done an on-the-record sit-down interview in seven years, but that changed when he spoke at length with Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post this week at Madison Square Garden. Dolan hit on a variety of topics during the interview, and when talking about his Knicks, the owner reiterated his confidence in both the superstar leading the team and the coach roaming the sideline.
The Knicks have started just 3-8 this year, and there are already questions surrounding the futures of Carmelo Anthony and Mike Woodson. Anthony can opt out of his contract after this season, and the Knicks must decide whether they want to invest big long-term money in a player who some believe can't be the No. 1 guy on a championship team. Meanwhile, the Madison Square Garden faithful have already begun to chant for Woodson's head as the head coach struggles to find effective lineup combinations.
But Dolan, known as an owner who makes rash decisions, is preaching patience:
"I really don't compare myself with other owners. I'll bet you I'm more patient than Mikhail [Prokhorov] is of his team. Mostly, I think it does not pay to be impatient, because you destabilize your team. It's not like the players don't want to win, it's not like the owner doesn't want to win; everybody wants to win, so it's a question of: Can you get there? With Mike, I think he can get us there. Mostly, I think Carmelo [Anthony] can get us there, and the other players can get us there, they're going to have to jell and I think Mike can do a lot to get that to happen. Because he has their respect."
Dolan gave a specific vote of confidence to the embattled Woodson, praising the coach's ability to earn the respect of all his players:
"I have a lot of confidence in Woodson, and one thing I can say about Mike is he has the respect of all the players. They all respect him. And he treats them fairly and relatively equally, and that's part of where the respect emanates from. And those are hard things to get from a coach. When a coach loses a team ... that's when a coach is kind of done."
Whether that's the "dreaded" vote of confidence remains to be seen. If the Knicks continue to struggle, the pressure will mount to fire Woodson. And while injuries and a flawed roster have contributed to the poor start as well as the disappointing early ouster in last year's postseason, Woodson's stubbornness with his lineup choices deserves some of the blame as well.
Despite the rough start, Dolan still believes the Knicks can win a championship this year. The owner even said he would prefer to take this year's iteration of the Knicks over last year's, a team which won 54 games and earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
In addition to all of this, Dolan also riffed on a few other Knicks topics, including the decision to replace general manager Glen Grunwald with Steve Mills right before the season, the Amar's Stoudemire situation and Isiah Thomas.
Dolan revealed that Grunwald was given the boot because he was too much of a "classic" GM that didn't fit the new "initiative" the team is following. Dolan discussed the fact that the team wasn't taking advantage of technology available to help improve, so he wanted to go with a more new-school approach.
As for Stoudemire, Dolan insists the Knicks wouldn't be where they are now if that signing never happened. In short, his belief is the Anthony trade doesn't occur if Stoudemire isn't in place already. Probably a debatable sentiment, but there's no way to find out otherwise.
Finally, Isiah isn't coming back. So there.