Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Knicks Extend Woodson, Say They Never Considered Phil
Saying Mike Woodson “was our guy,” Knicks GM Glen Grunwald told the world the franchise never considered contacting Phil Jackson to lead them going forward and instead opted to give Woodson a multi-year extension.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed and Woodson called the matter “private.” Reports have it at three years.
“We thought he was the right guy for this team at this team,” Grunwald said on a conference call. “Obviously, there’s some great coaches out there that had we opened the search would have been called, namely Phil Jackson, who is the most successful coach in the NBA history but we felt Woody was our guy and he showed it during the season and in our discussions after the season.”
Asked if the Knicks had had a single conversation about contacting Jackson, Grunwald said, ” No, no. We told Woody he would get the first crack at the job.”
Woodson went 18-6 to close the regular season after replacing Mike D’Antoni and won the franchise’s first playoff game since 2001.
“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,” Knicks owner Jim Dolan said in a statement. “We saw a significant improvement since Mike took over and believe our team will only keep improving under Mike’s direction.”
Woodson said the non-candidacy of Jackson, who won 11 NBA championships as a coach and two as a player, did not phase him.
“Coach Jackson is a tremendous coach,” Woodson said. “I knows his name was mentioned a lot. That was not my concern. My concern was coaching the Knicks. Mr. Dolan decided to bring me back. I’m very, very happy Mr. Dolan gave me this opportunity.’’
Woodson emphatically denied reports that team Dolan influenced him to change his agent to facilitate the hiring.
Woodson recently dumped agent Joe Glass, who had a history with Dolan dating to Larry Brown’s messy 2006 divorce from the team, and said he hired Terry Prince of CAA as his agent. Prince also reps Rutgers coach Mike Rice.
“I truly want to set the record straight with this agent thing,” Woodson said. “I have no contract with the Glasses. I paid for my services and I elected to move on. Mr. Dolan had nothing to do with me making this decision. It was Mike Woodson’s decision. I have every right to make that decision if I choose to do that and I did that. And for me and my family, it’s a wonderful day because I’ve executed a contract with the Knicks and I have Mr. Dolan and Mr. Grunwald to thank for that.”
CAA is now tied to the Knicks on many levels. CAA also reps Dolan, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Mark Warkentein and Allan Houston.
“I chose CAA because I just thought that they would be the best for me,” Woodson said. “After going through their company and observing things that they can do for me, I thought that they would be the best fit for me.”
Asked by the New York Post if he was upset at getting replaced, Glass said: “Of course. You work hard for someone for a long time, you do the right thing for someone, of course you’re upset.
“Are you crazy? But I’m not going to comment about it.”
Woodson said he knows expectations are high going forward after the Knicks finished as the No. 7 seed in the East but lost to the Miami Heat in five games.
“I know expectations are very high and that’s the way it should be,” Woodson said
Over the last 24 games of the regular season, the Knicks posted the second-best record in the NBA and the team’s defense ranked fifth in the NBA in points allowed (91.8) and eighth in opponents’ field goal percentage (.440). Woodson became the first head coach in franchise history to win his first five games and posted the second-best winning percentage ever by an NBA coach who took over a team midseason.
“Mike has the respect of every person in this organization,” Grunwald said. “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.”
“I’m very humbled and honored to continue coaching the franchise where I started my NBA career,” Woodson said. “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.”
Woodson joined the organization as an assistant coach on Aug. 29, 2011 after six seasons as the head coach of Atlanta (2004-05 through 2009-10). He improved the Hawks win-loss record in each of those seasons, leading the franchise to the postseason in each of his final three years. Previously, he served eight seasons as an assistant coach with Milwaukee (1996-97 through 1998-99), Cleveland (1999-2000 through 2000-01), Philadelphia (2001-02 through 2002-03) and the NBA Champion Detroit Pistons (2003-04).
He enjoyed an 11-year NBA playing career, averaging 14.0 points over 786 games with New York (1980-81), New Jersey (1981-82), Kansas City/Sacramento (1981-82 through 1985-86), L.A. Clippers (1986-87 through 1987-88), Houston (1988-89 through 1990-91) and Cleveland (1990-91). He was originally selected by the Knicks in the first round (12th overall) in the 1980 NBA Draft.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.