Thanks to Sunday afternoon's heroics at the Garden, this Knicks season isn't over yet.
It could end Wednesday night or it could go a little longer than that, but the Knicks appear to have seen enough to convince them that Mike Woodson is the right man to coach the team into the future. Frank Isola of the Daily News reports that the team has started talking to Woodson about an extension that would rip off the interim tag and make him the head coach without modifiers.
According to the report, Woodson has spoken directly to James Dolan about staying on with the team next season, although Woodson, speaking to media Tuesday, denied that he's started working on a new deal. It's a wise strategy for Woodson, who doesn't want to get caught looking out for himself while the team is still trying to extend its season.
The argument in favor of Woodson is pretty clear. The Knicks went 18-6 under him in the regular season and showed a commitment to defense that was rarely in evidence during Mike D'Antoni's run as the team's head coach.
Woodson also found a way to get Carmelo Anthony to buy into all phases of the game, something that resulted in the best stretch of play that 'Melo has turned in since coming to New York. Woodson's secret was probably that he wasn't D'Antoni, but sports is a results business so that certainly helped his cause.
Less thrilling has been Woodson's inability to adjust when things aren't going well for the Knicks, even if you eliminate the playoffs from consideration because of the depleted roster that Woodson has to work with these days. The Knicks had no Plan B when letting 'Melo play Hero Ball wasn't working for them -- outside of letting J.R. Smith shoot as frequently as humanly possible -- and that can't be the case when next season rolls around.
Woodson's history with the Hawks is long enough to know that he isn't going to shy away from isolation on the offensive end, but it is imperative that the team uses their first offseason since adding Anthony to create a system that allows both him and Amar'e Stoudemire to thrive. Sunday showed that it could happen, so the issue now is making it happen on a regular basis.
Talking about an extension now sends a pretty strong signal that the Knicks aren't looking to make a run at bringing Phil Jackson back to the team he won a ring with, something that's likely to be met with frowns from some in the gallery. While Jackson hasn't implicitly said he'd return to coaching, he's never been shy about talking about his love for the city or the team and there's likely a price that would lead him back to the Garden.
It's tough to say no to Phil Jackson, but a little stability wouldn't be the worst thing for this team. The Knicks have spent so much time building and rebuilding over the last couple of years that the prospect of a calm offseason devoted to making Anthony, Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin (assuming he's back) into a cohesive unit is fairly appealing.
Outside of Jackson, it's hard to see any other coach that should be given much of a look other than Woodson. Jerry Sloan couldn't make it work with Deron Williams, which makes the prospect of dealing with 'Melo a dicey one at best, and John Calipari is best left where the salary cap doesn't determine the quality of the players on his team.
Other choices are going to be pretty similar to Woodson. Retreads or career assistants without Woodson's track record of success don't make much sense when Woodson is already in position.
We're not sure when this season will end, but it certainly looks like we know who will be on the sideline when the next one gets underway.