Though the Knicks bowed out in the second round of the playoffs this season, there's still plenty to be excited about.
After instilling a defensive mentality throughout his squad, Mike Woodson led the way and helped New York accomplish great things. An Atlantic Division title, a 54 win season, and a playoff series' victory were all things that happened under Woodson's watch. Needless to say, he's already accomplished plenty of feats not reached by fellow Knicks coaches of the recent past.
Unfortunately, an Eastern Conference Finals meeting with the Miami Heat did not turn out to be one of them.
After all the hype, the different acquisitions, and setting certain expectations, the Knicks fell short of what was expected of them. Despite a solid roster from A to Z (which includes the NBA scoring champion, the "Sixth Man of the Year," an All-Defensive First Team member---all surrounded by a slew of proven veterans), many players couldn't step up when it mattered most, and New York fell short of the mark.
Should this be considered Woodson's fault? When and where is the line drawn in the sand between whose fault losing ultimately is, between the coach and his players? Did Woodson motivate his players enough? Did he fail to make necessary adjustments against the Pacers?
Knicks' General Manager Glen Grunwald is as creative and arguably as brilliant as they come. He'll undoubtedly come up with ways to make necessary improvements to the squad, regardless of how subtle they may be. He'll find ways. Having said that, should Woodson have been able to go farther with the team already in place? With little room to make changes financially speaking, perhaps this past season's Knicks squad is as talented of a group as he'll get to lead. Should that turn out to be the case, the coach will have missed his opportunity.
Because he ultimately didn't meet all hopes and/or expectations this year, the pressure is on Woodson to do more next season. For those who may argue Woodson did enough in his first year to prove he's still the right man for the job, look no further than owner James Dolan's choice to not yet exercise the third year option in the coach's contract.
Of course, the final year of Woodson's contract also coincides with an opt-out clause year in Carmelo Anthony's contract. The superstar's presence (or lack there of, in the future) will obviously dictate how far the Knicks ultimately go, regardless of who the coach is.
For now, Woodson has job security, and rightfully so. He changed the culture in the Big Apple into a winning one for the Knickerbockers, and showed great promise for what is hopefully ahead. Still, if he fails to help the Knicks deliver next season, how long should that leash called job security be?
At this point, it's probably a smart decision not to exercise the third-year option in Woodson's contract just yet. As mentioned, not only are the Knicks currently as talented of a group as they'll get in the next few years, their core is also an older one, so the window for winning big is somewhat
If Woodson cannot continue to prove he's ready to help the Knicks back to greatness, perhaps it's better to usher him out and bring a new voice in before that same window closes.