Knicks’ Woodson, Grunwald avoid specifics, praise season

Mike Woodson and the Knicks put up a complete dud against the Pacers. Credit: Getty Images
Head coach Mike Woodson and president Glen Grunwald met with the media for the final time this season on Tuesday.
Credit: Getty Images

The Knicks wrapped up their season-ending media obligations by ushering head coach Mike Woodson and team president Glen Grunwald in front of the masses at their facilities Tuesday.

Neither wanted to discuss personnel decisions going forward but were eager to effuse praise on a team not many pegged to even go this deep into the postseason. Grunwald, specifically, refused to get into the specifics of what he plans on doing with the roster this summer, but he did allow that changes will likely be made.

“[The team’s salary cap] probably is not likely to get under the [luxury]-tax thresholds, but sign-and-trades are available, although you just can’t acquire a player that way if you’re over the threshold,” said Grunwald. “I think there are some opportunities. We’ll see how it all plays out. Free agency is always a little unpredictable. … But I think we can be creative. I think we got some ideas in what we can do, but we have to be aggressive and creative in terms of our approach to this offseason.”

Grunwald went on to explain that while the Knicks appear to be hamstrung with the tax, he feels confident minor maneuvers can be made to tinker with the roster’s depth, while maintaining the core of Woodson’s group.

“You can trade players, but I don’t think that’s our focus. Our focus is to continue to build this core team. I think some continuity, some familiarization, further growth as individuals and a team, I think that’s what we have to do,” Grunwald said. “We have to continue to buy in as a group to what coach Woodson’s trying to do here. It’s what we all need to do to play a role to be successful.”

According to Woodson, his players all bought in this past season and he’s looking forward to stacking on another training camp to further emphasize his schemes.

“For the most part, I still say that based on where we started and how we assembled our team, this was, to me, a wonderful season and it was a major step in the right direction,” said Woodson. “To win our division, [and] to secure the second seed, people didn’t think we could do none of those things. Some of our goals were met, so all wasn’t bad. I think we made a major step. I think we were able to win some of our fan base back and to me, that’s what’s most important.”

Woodson did have a few complaints, though, about the state of the team — specifically on offense. The long-time coach has never really led a team with great inside presence, as both his former Hawks teams and this current batch of Knicks played inside-out.

“For the most part, we were a jump-shooting team this year, except when we did post Melo [Carmelo Anthony],” said Woodson. “Rasheed [Wallace] helped us early on the block, but we just didn’t have a major low-post game and that might be an area that we might look at as well.”

Overall, Grunwald said, the 2012-13 season was a success for a Knicks team that became relevant again — a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since the early 2000s.

“I thought we could have played better, but we didn’t, so we have to look at that and find out why we didn’t play as well as we could,” said Grunwald. “I’m disappointed in the [ending of the] season, but I’m not at all discouraged in this team. I’m very excited about the future. Obviously we have some work to do. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re going to do all we can to get where we want to go.”

Knicks notes …

» Woodson was asked about Amar’e Stoudemire’s minutes restrictions going into next year, as well as his role in the foreseeable future, and was rather vague.

“We’ll have to play that by ear,” Woodson said. “We’ll obviously wait for the doctors and see where things wind up next year. … We’re hopeful [that Stoudemire comes back next season 100 percent], but there’s no guarantees.”

“That will be for us to determine where our roster winds up next year and where everyone else is,” Grunwald said on Stoudemire’s status going forward. “I thought he had a great role in terms of where Woody put him to be successful in terms of coming off the bench. And whether that continues next year or not will be determined, but there is no grand plan to say that he’ll start or not start.”

» Jason Kidd sounded like he was one guy that’s definitely coming back, according to both Grunwald and Woodson:

“We had a great meeting, Woody and I had with Jason yesterday,” said Grunwald. “He was a big part of our success and we look forward to having him back next year.”

“Not yesterday [any discussion of retirement]. It sounded like he was coming back,” said Woodson. “I thought he made it sound like, yeah, he’s coming back, but that can change, you never know.”

» Grunwald tried hard to not tip his hand on J.R. Smith’s status, but it sounded as if he’s leaning towards finding a way to keep the Sixth Man of the Year.

“Like I said before, I think it’s best for us to maintain some continuity,” said Grunwald. “The same group, the same core group together, but I’m not going to comment on any individual player because were not finished with our evaluation. … I think for now we’re just going to go through the evaluation. I’m very happy for J.R. He had a great year, obviously. He’s disappointed in how it finished for himself as it is for our team. But I think that’s going to make us stronger and more committed to next season.”

Woodson said he thinks Smith still has to improve in many ways if he wants to take the leap next year from sixth man to trusted team star.

“He’s got to grow as a player. He’s got to grow on and off the court if he plans on being a better player in this league moving forward,” said Woodson. “As a coach, if he’s back here, it’s going to be my job to be sure to continue to push him in the right directions and make sure that he does everything possible to make sure he wins basketball games.”

Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.


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