9:40 am May. 11, 20121
Mike Woodson, who took over for Mike D'Antoni as Knicks coach midway through the 2011-12 season, has reportedly taken steps to make his return next season more likely, firing his agent (who committed the unforgivable crime in the team's eyes of representing former coach Larry Brown) and beginning contract negotiations.
For a team in desperate need of continuity, bringing back the coach has its advantages, even if New York hadn't finished 18-6 under Woodson once he took over. You can quibble with some choices he made in the five-game loss to Miami in the playoffs, but he didn't exactly have any good options, with most of his usable players battling knee injuries of varying severity.
Woodson's critics point to his failures in Atlanta, where he failed to get the Hawks past the second round of the playoffs. But in fairness, the Hawks, in the two season since Atlanta fired Woodson, have failed to get even that far. Atlanta's limitations have everything to do with their roster, and little to do with Woodson.
We've yet to see whether this Knicks roster is capable of something special when it's healthy. It's possible that Carmelo Anthony will prove to be the overhyped post-season albatross some people have always said he is. But maybe if they've got him and Amar'e Stoudemire playing regularly, in rhythm, with a talented point guard like Jeremy Lin, the Knicks will be just fine offensively. If they also play defense as they did under Woodson, well, they're going to be a good team.
The Knicks can pine, somewhat delusionally, for Phil Jackson to come to New York and sprinkle magical wiffle dust on the players, or they can just stick with Woodson and get on with it. Certainly, getting to the N.B.A. finals with Anthony, Stoudemire, Lin and Chandler would be a very different task than trying to do so with Joe Johnson and Josh Smith.
Elsewhere around New York:
They beat Tampa Bay, 5-3, behind a dominant performance from CC Sabathia, a save from Rafael Soriano, and a home run from Robinson Cano. At some point this will be made into a post-Mariano closer controversy, but if the Yankees also have the luxury of alternating between Soriano and David Robertson while they make up their minds. Brett Gardner had a setback in his return, which means balls hit to left field by Yankee opponents will be an adventure for another few weeks. New York hosts Seattle for three this weekend, getting a close look at Jesus Montero, the man they traded for Michael Pineda.
The surprisingly 18-13 Mets head to Miami this weekend to take on the Marlins, who have recovered from an awful start to win eight of nine games. the Mets are hoping that Ike Davis' three-run homer on Wednesday night is a sign that his season-long slump is over. It may be a brief renaissance, but with the strength of this division, it is enjoyable to see the Mets playing meaningful games, even in May.
Minicamp has begun, and the subplot from last year, a rift between Santonio Holmes and his teammates, is battling with a subplot from the offseason, a battle between Sanchez and Tim Tebow. Do the Jets have a subplot controversy?!?
A talented crop of draft picks quietly goes about its business.
Only by winning Game 7 Saturday night at Madison Square Garden can the Rangers give Cory Booker his desired PATH train series with the New Jersey Devils.
Ahead of Sunday's match in Philadelphia, New York's link with Alessandro Nesta, currently of AC Milan, grew stronger yesterday. The rumored contract: a year-and-a-half, beginning with this summer's transfer window, for around $2.6 million. As I noted yesterday, there is ample room for skepticism.