The Pros and Cons of Keeping Mike Woodson

Examining what a new deal for Woodson means

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, May 24, 2012  |  Updated 11:09 AM EDT
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Woodson's relationship with Anthony is just one reason he got the job.

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All indications are that the Knicks will officially strip the interim tag away from Mike Woodson on Thursday and announce that he will be their head coach going forward.

This is not surprising news. The Knicks' brief playoff run wasn't even over when news broke that Woodson was already putting the finishing touches on a new contract with the team.

Is it good news, though? Woodson's 18-6 record after Mike D'Antoni took his mustache and went home saved the Knicks season, but it wasn't like that run was filled with many signs that a championship is right around the corner for the Knicks.

It's definitely a move that has its pros and cons, then, and we thought we'd highlight some of them in advance of the big announcement. We'll start with something that's been in short supply around the Garden in recent years.

PRO: Keeping Woodson means that the Knicks will go into an offseason with more stability than they've had in quite some time. While we've been watching this team far too long to count out a splashy transaction, it certainly seems like the Knicks will go into next season with the same mode of operation and that's a good way to start building on strengths.

CON: Stability is great, but not even inquiring about Phil Jackson's possible interest is a sign of poor management at the Garden. When Peyton Manning became a free agent, the 49ers kicked the tires even though Alex Smith had just led them to the NFC Championship Game. No one will ever fault you for being proactive about getting better.

PRO: Carmelo Anthony is the most important player on this Knicks team and he clearly liked playing for Woodson. Letting the inmates run the asylum is never a great idea, but treating your best players like glorified cogs in a wheel isn't going to work out either.

CON: Is Anthony really going to buy in and play hard over an entire season? History says that's not the safest bet and you need only look at the Western Conference Finals to see how much more successful multi-faceted offenses are than the one the Knicks ran this season.

PRO: Woodson wasn't really given the pieces for such an offense thanks to injuries and he'll get the chance to put one together this offseason regardless of how the Knicks juggle their roster. The Knicks actually weren't all that iso-heavy until Jeremy Lin got hurt, so it stands to reason the offense won't look exactly the same next year.

CON: It won't necessarily look any better, either. Woodson's biggest failing on the bench this season was his unwillingness/inability to make adjustments when things weren't working, so it is hard to simply accept that things will flow more easily on offense.

PRO: According to the Post, Isiah Thomas won't be part of Woodson's coaching staff or serve in an advisory role. Saying that Isiah won't darken the Garden's doorstep is to Knicks fans what compliments about how hard their city rocks are to concert fans.

CON: Is there anyone left who thinks the Knicks will bring Thomas back in an official capacity? This has nothing to do with Woodson's ability as a coach, just with the lingering fears that James Dolan is trusted about as much as the boy who cried wolf.

PRO: If you weren't getting Jackson -- and it was always a long shot -- Woodson is as good or better than any other candidate for the job. He won in Atlanta, he won with the Knicks in the regular season and he helped the team play the best defense we've seen from them in almost 15 years.

CON: It's hard to say how much any of that had to do with why Woodson got the job. It's telling that the Knicks forced Woodson to fire his agent, who also reps Larry Brown, in order to keep the job.

Woodson wound up signing with CAA, the agency that put its hooks deep into the Knicks starting with the Anthony trade, and that says perhaps the most important thing of all. It says Woodson is a good corporate soldier and that has mattered much more to Dolan than competency.

That's a dark note to end things, but it's an inescapable truth of life with the Knicks in the Dolan era. Things aren't always as black and white as doing everything possible to win and hiring Woodson isn't going to change that.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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