Mike Woodson was shown the door long before team president Phil Jackson started overhauling the roster. But Woodson said he wouldn't have traded Tyson Chandler and other members of the team that won the Atlantic Division two seasons ago if he wasn't fired.
"Had I stayed on board I probably would have pushed to keep Tyson and keep that core group together because that's what won the 54 games two years ago," Woodson, a Clippers assistant, said in his return to the Garden. "But people change and you've got to live with it and it's what it is.
Latest Knicks stories
"They've had a tough season so far and hopefully they can rebound this summer and put some pieces together and get back to winning basketball games."
It's amazing to consider how much the Knicks have changed and how far they have fallen. Only Carmelo Anthony remains from that 54-win team, and these Knicks are nearing 60 losses.
Their 58th loss came Wednesday night in humiliating fashion. The Clippers built a 40-point lead and rolled to a 111-80 victory. After the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he felt "sick" and he had Woodson handle the postgame news conference.
Austin Rivers led the Clippers with 21 points. Cleanthony Early had 18 points for the Knicks, who shot 35.4 percent.
The Chandler trade to the Mavericks last June has been a bust for the Knicks (14-58). Then in January, Jackson sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland in a move that further pushed the Knicks toward the worst record in franchise history. They need two more losses and have 10 games to play. The consolation is the Knicks could get the No. 1 pick in the draft.
The reality is Woodson, who was 109-79 in 21/2 seasons as coach, probably wouldn't have been back even if he guided the Knicks to the playoffs. They ended the season on a 16-5 run and missed out by one game.
"I think when Phil came in he had his mind made up based on what he wanted to do and I can respect that," Woodson said. "There's nothing I can say bad about Phil. Phil has had a helluva career as a coach and he had other ideas in terms of the direction he wanted to go and I respect that."
Rivers was the Celtics coach two years ago when the Knicks ousted them in the playoffs. He believed they were building something.
"Things change quickly," Rivers said. "Things have changed here. They had to make a decision. If you're building in the right direction, you keep building. If not, you try to tear it up and get it right. I think that's what they're doing, and that's what they're going through. It's probably the right decision."
Woodson said, "I've kind of moved on. Two years ago was a great run for our ballclub. A lot of things have changed since then. Hey, all I can say is I wish them nothing but the best and I truly mean that when I say that."
Notes & quotes: Alexey Shved's season could be over after an MRI revealed an incomplete fractured rib. He will be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks. April 15 is the season finale . . . Langston Galloway suffered a sprained right hand. X-rays were negative. He remained in the game.