Woodson Sheds Interim Tag, Signs Extension With Knicks





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Someone can go ahead and print up those new business cards for Mike Woodson, who shed the interim tag and officially became the head coach of the New York Knicks today after signing a multi-year extension.

Retaining the coach that led the Knicks out of their midseason mess and into the playoffs promises to be just the first of what should be many important steps for the franchise this summer. They have free agents to deal with, namely a guy named Jeremy Lin, and other matters to sort out after winning their first playoff game since 2001 on Woodson’s watch.

The former Hawks coach and former Knicks draft pick replaced Mike D’Antoni in March and guided to the Knicks to an 18-6 finish to the regular season, earning the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race and a date with the Miami Heat in the first round. They only lasted five games against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat. But they played without Lin and with an ailing Tyson Chandler, the KIA Defensive Player of the Year, not to mention Amar’e Stoudemire playing with an injured hand to finish the series.

Woodson was rewarded as much for the work he did getting to the Knicks to the playoffs as he was anything else. They were headed for next week’s lottery before he took over for D’Antoni, who resigned March 14.

“Mike has the respect of every person in this organization,” Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said in a statement. “He and his staff led the team in an impressive push into the playoffs over the last 24 games and we believe he is the right man to lead the franchise as we move forward.”

It’s hard to argue that point, given the way Woodson was able to steer the Knicks out of a tumultuous stretch of their season and into the playoffs. He also was able to get All-NBA forward Carmelo Anthony back in a groove after the “Linsanity” craze and the inevitable slump that came after that surge.

Woodson might not be the big name Knicks fans have gotten used to in recent years —  Pat Riley, Isiah Thomas, Larry Brown,  D’Antoni — and he’s probably not the former Knick they were hoping would come home to rescue the franchise, that would be one Phil Jackson. But he is the coach whose hard work helped rescue them this season. And that was clearly taken into account by the organization.

You could also make the argument that he’s exactly what the Knicks need right now, as a coach who won’t make headlines for anything other than his team’s performance on the floor.

“Mike took over the team under challenging circumstances and made it clear, starting on day one, that he was going to hold every player on our roster accountable,” Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan said. “We saw a significant improvement since Mike took over and believe our team will only keep improving under Mike’s direction.”

Woodson has extensive history presiding over a rebuilding project. In six turbulent seasons in Atlanta his Hawks teams improved each and every season, going from the worst record in the league his first season to making the playoffs in each of his final three seasons and winning 53 games in his final campaign.

So Woodson’s is no stranger to the process the Knicks will undergo this summer and in the near future trying to build a contender basically from the ground up. He’s certainly starting off on much more solid ground this time around with Anthony, Chandler and Stoudemire as his core pieces to build around.

“I’m very humbled and honored to continue coaching the franchise where I started my NBA career,” Woodson, who was drafted by the Knicks in 1980, said in a statement. “Our goal is to build off the success we had at the end of last season and to continue our quest of bringing an NBA championship to Madison Square Garden.”

Much will be made of Woodson’s paltry .363 playoff winning percentage and the fact that he’s not Jackson or some other marquee name that would have lit up Broadway the moment he stepped to the podium to be introduced as the Knicks’ new boss. But don’t let his 224-292 career coaching record fool you. He’s a much better coach than those numbers indicate. When given comparable talent to work with, Woodson-coached teams have made the playoffs in each of his last four seasons calling the shots.

In a bottom line league that always recognizes what could be but rewards what really is, Woodson is the right man for the job.


17 Comments

  1. vamos a la playa says:

    thumbs up for mike woodson: the team increased the defence level with some slight adjustaments that eleveted the numbers of the opponents contested shots.
    18W-6L record with huge wins with indiana (twice), chicago, orlando (twice), atlanta, clippers, philly, etc.

    btw i don’t think jeremy lin is a free agent right now.

  2. RAW says:

    That team is going to be better next season. Jackson is a big name and there was always gon be drama surrounding the Knicks if the triangle was not working. I give thumbs up to Woodson and i trust he will produce cz it’s not a fluke how he won his 18 games of 24 and where he put the Hawks. Knicks should go after Nash and they will be fighting for the top seeds next season

  3. willie says:

    the knocks won’t be able to afford jeremy lin…. they used it all up on their forwards + davis

  4. marlon green says:

    Lets face it people if Woodson doesn’t get the Knicks to at least top 4 in the east he will be outta of that job by the end of next season. But it doesn’t matter who the knicks get to coach or play. That team has what I call it “the patrick ewing curse” Remember when he wanted to finish his career as a Knick like he had every right to? And they said that they needed to get rid of him so they can be an uptempo team and so they can build for the future. How did that turn out? Ewing was the the New York Knicks since 1985 and gave it his all every game. And if it wasn’t for that bald headed guy from Chicago and Choking John Starks, the Knicks would have had at least two titles with him. I know this league is a business but have some loyalty to your great players. I bet you the spurs wont be trying to move duncan when his time is up.

  5. knicks fan says:

    why would they get jackson when the team already has amazing chemistry with woodson? when all of your players completely buy into what their coach is saying, you then have an amazing team from day one everyone didn’t buy into d’antoni and it showed. and how do we know if melo and amare could even run the triangle

  6. fanofafan says:

    The knicks continue to make bone-headed signings..Woodson isnt a good coach, he’s defensive minded (even though the knicks are horrible at defense) but his offense is stagnant and he can’t continue to run plays for Carmelo only.

  7. GET RID OF HOGmelo says:

    im sorry knick fans but if you ever want to see a ring get rid of HOGMELO. It takes a team to make it right , yeah making 40 points is nice but if you notice a player that makes more points than his team then you definitely need to make some adjustments to the lineup if you want knicks to be “CHAMPION MATERIAL”. and what makes a champion team??? certaintly not 100 million dollar contracts. KNICKS MANAGEMENT IF YOU EVER READ THIS I HOPE YOU LOSE JEREMY LIN SINCE YOU GUYS ABUSE TALENT INTO A MARKETING SCHEME…..JERKS =)

  8. insight guy says:

    What people seem to be forgetting is that this is actually a really good team – they got probably the best frontline in the league player-for-player in Melo, Amar’e and Chandler. D’Antoni couldn’t get it going, because he’s a guard-oriented coach with a suitably guard-oriented system, and three forwards didn’t do it for him. Still, any good coach should be able to get pretty hot results out of this team – look for them to be around the 4 seed next year when Boston and Orlando are rebuilding. Woodson will do a good enough job – I think Van Gundy would have been a great choice too; Dwight Howard’s success shows he knows how to work with big guys plus ORL always played pretty good team defense with him there.

  9. W/E says:

    Knicks are gunna be first/second round losers for the next couple years

  10. Samuel says:

    Karma is a Mutha. LD weaseled and “Tomed” his way into convincing the Hawks to fire Woodson and hire hi, Now, LD will likely be canned and Woody has one of the best jobs in the league. Cuz, you know I love everything that this man stands for and I have been one of his biggest supporters.
    Woody=COY

  11. Congratulations Coach Woodson says:

    Well deserved appointment. Best of luck Knicks in ’12-2013 Season. Lin, Shumpert, Stoudemire get well and get some vengeance goin’ on the teams that beat The Knicks when they were down.

  12. Blake says:

    Really wish they would have at least tried for Phil Jackson, and if he refused, take Woodson. Raw talent that just needs to come together to start winning BIG is just what Phil Jackson is best at doing.

    Woodson…I hope you can pull this off.

  13. newyorksteelo says:

    If you want to beat the best, you have to hire the best. Phil Jackson would have been my choice if he was healthy enough to lead the Knicks, but I guess Woodson will do for now. Only time will tell.