GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire said yesterday they hope the Knicks lock up interim coach Mike Woodson to a long-term deal as speculation focused on the coach's future while the team prepared to take on the Heat in Wednesday night's Game 5.
Woodson said after yesterday's practice that his only concern at the moment is extending the playoff series against the Heat and that he has not spoken to Knicks management about next season. He denied a report that said he has already begun contract talks, but a source close to the situation said the interim coach has met with Knicks officials to discuss his future and expects the two sides to reach a deal.
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When asked if he has talked with team officials about next season, Woodson said, "Not at all. Not at all. I have not."
"What's going to happen will happen," Woodson added. "Right now I do have a job. I'm coaching the New York Knicks. They gave me that opportunity and I'm just trying to make the most of it. And right now the job is not complete."
The Knicks declined to comment and maintain their coaching situation will be settled when the season is over.
The Knicks trail the best-of-seven series against the Heat, 3-1, and need a win in Wednesday night's Game 5 to force a sixth game Friday at The Garden.
Woodson has said that he wants to return as Knicks coach. He has the backing of the team's cornerstone players.
"If they're going to do it right now or they're going to wait until after the season, I would love to see him back," Anthony said. "I support that. Everybody knows what he did since he's been here in a short period he's been the head coach. There's no need to cut it off right now. We're just getting started."
There had been speculation that Phil Jackson and John Calipari would be the leading candidates for the Knicks job this offseason. But Woodson, who replaced Mike D'Antoni on March 14, settled a shaky situation..
The Knicks were 18-24 before Woodson guided them to an 18-6 finish and their second straight postseason berth, despite not having Stoudemire for 13 games and Jeremy Lin for 17.
"We had a great run so far," Stoudemire said. "I think it's something that we can build on for sure. As players we all love his philosophy on both ends of the court. He has a good understanding and we all get along very well. It'll be great to build something solid and sooner than later."