Aug 29, 2011, 11:33 AM EDT
Ladies and gentlemen — start your speculation.
It had been talked about for a while and today it is set to became official: Mike Woodson Mike D’Antoni’s right hand man, lead assistant and defensive coordinator with the New York Knicks.
Marc Berman at the New York Post broke the story.
As reported first by The Post, Woodson met with D’Antoni in New York on Aug. 1 and immediately became the top candidate. But the Knicks were in no hurry to make the hire during the prolonged lockout and because Woodson was still in line for the Timberwolves head coaching job.
Woodson, who coached Atlanta from 2004 to 2010, was a key assistant on Larry Brown’s staff during the Pistons’ 2003-2004 NBA championship run.
People tend to forget about the second part of that when mocking Woodson’s defensive teachings. Yes, his Atlanta team’s switched every pick-and-roll — to their detriment as good teams used that to set up favorable matchups — but that was more a factor of personnel than principle. Woodson has good defensive chops.
If he can get the current Knicks roster to play good defense, he should probably be considered for canonization as a miracle worker, not just a head coaching spot. Chauncey Billups is not able to stay in front of the quick point guards that fill NBA rosters today, Carmelo Anthony can be a disinterested defender, the Knicks have no good shot blocker in the paint, and there are a host of other issues. Woodson is going to need roster help to turn that defense around.
As for the coming speculation…
First, Woodson has ties to Isiah Thomas. Yes, pretty strong ones. So if you are inclined to believe that Thomas is still pulling the strings with owner James Dolan and the front office from afar, this plays right into your hands.
What this does is put an experienced No. 2 right behind D’Antoni in a city where half the people are calling for his head. It also is a great stepping stone for Woodson, who was considered but missed out on all the head coaching jobs around the league this off-season. But there will be a lot of people saying this is the Knicks front office preparing for the post-D’Antoni era.
Honestly, that’s hard to predict because owner Dolan is hard to predict. See letting Donnie Walsh go as Exhibit A. Maybe we should ask Isiah?