All around Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night a familiar utterance could be heard post-game: ‘This was a bad loss.’ In truth, the Knicks have had worse beatings at MSG this season than the 106-101 overtime defeat at the hands of the Kings, but a game against the Western Conference cellar dwellers that Carmelo Anthony called a ‘must-win’ heading into All-Star weekend should have been exactly that. A must-win. Unfortunately, New York is not good enough to pencil in a W these days – just ten days ago they dropped a game to the Milwaukee Bucks, a team that has struggled to nine wins for the season.
The Knicks lost what should have been the unlosable against the Kings, dropping their record at the Garden to 12-18 – twice giving up double-digit leads through the game in the process – and leaving media and fans to wonder how much longer owner James Dolan will stand for the constant losing at home.
As New York heads to the break, embarrassed with its tail firmly between it’s legs, they will have decisions to make, and questions to answer. Will Mike Woodson still be the coach on Tuesday when the team heads to Memphis, and will Carmelo Anthony still be a part of the squad once the trade deadline passes next week?
For his part, Anthony, who has the been the sole bright spot for this team in 2013-14, said he wasn’t thinking about Woodson’s job status, or worrying about personnel decisions.
“I am not thinking about that at this point,” Anthony said of the coach’s job status. “That has been an ongoing issue, ongoing story. Every day is a new story so he is still here and that is what we are dealing with.
“I don’t want to go down that path at this point,” Anthony continued post-game when pressed about the looming trade deadline. “Whatever they are thinking, they are thinking. If they do something, they do it, it is up to them, it is out of my hands and we keep it like that.”
Anthony will opt-out of his deal at season’s end and the constant losing is taking its toll on him. In eleven seasons in the league, Anthony has never missed the playoffs and even in this nauseatingly weak Eastern Conference, it appears less likely by the day the Knicks will make the top eight. Already there has been reports linking the league’s second leading scorer to Chicago. Knicks’ management must decide if they are all-in with Melo, or blow the entire roster up and start from scratch, again.
The trading deadline is Feb. 20, but the Knicks don’t have many movable assets aside from Anthony. They’ll likely move forward (for this season, at least) with the current core and hope for an improved showing over the final 30-games of the season.
“I need everybody to play better [after the break],” said the ever-optimistic Woodson pre-game on Wednesday. “I’ve got to coach better. It’s just that simple. We’ve all got to do our part to get where we need to go.”
The team has eight of their next ten games on the road, hardly the ideal situation for a coach in the hot seat. Has Woodson coached his final game for the Knicks? Probably not this season, but it’s inevitable. It wouldn’t help matters if the franchise canned him now. Tyson Chandler was stern in his reply to whether he was worried the coach may be gone soon: “No,” he said.
“It’s very disappointing, to be quite honest with you,” Chandler continued on about the Knicks’ season. “We got to step away from the game for a little while, recharge our batteries, come back ready to play the second half of the season.”