Mike Woodson called this season a "disaster from a coaching standpoint," but he doesn't want to see it end prematurely for him.
Woodson's seat appears to be getting hotter again. The Knicks have lost three straight to fall to 19-30. Woodson still believes he can lead the Knicks into the playoffs, but he admits this season has been a struggle.
"This year has been, for me, . . . kind of a disaster from a coaching standpoint in trying to get players to compete and play at a high level," Woodson said on ESPN Radio Thursday. "That's the frustrating part about it because I know we're better than we've shown. We still got a chance though."
The Knicks still are in the playoff race, sitting just 21/2 games out of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final spot. But a big part of Woodson's job is getting players to compete and play at a high level. The Knicks haven't done that in a season that started with championship aspirations.
With each losing streak, speculation grows that Woodson, who is 91-64 in the regular season as Knicks coach, could be in his final days on the bench.
"I can't worry about that," Woodson said after practice. "I really can't. That's not sitting at the top of my list right now. It really isn't. My job is to coach this team as long as I'm coaching and try to get results. That's what I'm trying to do."
The Knicks, who host the Nuggets Friday night, have played better since the start of the new year, but they continue to be inconsistent.
They opened 2014 by winning six of their first seven games but followed that with a five-game losing streak. After four straight wins, the Knicks have dropped their last three, including one to the NBA-worst Bucks.
The Knicks can't afford many more losses, and Woodson might not be able to, either.
One published report said Woodson could be removed before the Feb. 20 trade deadline. If the Knicks can't make a trade to shake things up, they could determine that a coaching change is the jolt this team needs.
At different points this season, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler seemed to distance themselves from Woodson and some of his decisions. But collectively, the Knicks have been playing harder lately. They played the 35-14 Trail Blazers tough for 48 minutes before losing by four Wednesday night.
J.R. Smith, who has butted heads with Woodson this season, came to his coach's defense Thursday.
"I believe in the coach, I believe in the system," Smith said. "It worked last year, don't see why it wouldn't work this year. We just got to all 100 percent buy into it."
Smith said "without a doubt" he's afraid that if the Knicks continue losing, it will cost Woodson his job. But Smith said Woodson isn't letting the rumors affect him.
"I think he's handling it well," Smith said. "He's in a tough spot. I've played for a few coaches, and one thing about coach Woodson, he puts everything on himself before anybody. He takes the blame, he takes all the heat and he doesn't mind it; that's what he wants. That's what he expects.
"We as players, we need to start taking some of the heat, because he can't play for us, he can't go out there and grab 10 to 12 rebounds or shoot the ball. That's our job. So we've got to stand up and admit when we're wrong and not playing well, and take the heat."
Amid everything, Woodson remains focused on getting the Knicks turned around.
"I'm not happy at all in terms of where we are as a team because I am the head coach and I pride myself on being better than what we are," Woodson said. "The bottom line is I'm the head coach here and I got to continue to push these guys to be better."
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