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Report: Knicks working on contract extension for Woodson; coach denies

May 8, 2012, 2:40 PM EDT

New York Knicks coach Woodson reacts during Game 1 of their first round NBA Eastern Conference playoff against Miami Heat in Miami Reuters

UPDATE 2:40 pm: As should have been expected, Mike Woodson denied that these talks are going on. From ESPNNewYork.com:

“That’s not true, not at all,” he said after practice Tuesday.

As we have discussed before, what has been officially discussed and what has been actually discussed via second and third parties to smooth the way for a deal are very different things. That is just how deals get done in the NBA. This one may or may not come together, but the idea of there being talks through back channels should not be shocking.

And, of course, Carmelo Anthony again gave a ringing endorsement to Woodson as coach. Also just as shocking. ‘Melo likes the guy who runs 75 percent of the offense through him? Who saw that coming?

10:19 am: Phil Jackson who?

Apparently one playoff win — plus how the Knicks closed out the season playing defense and going 18-6 to make the playoffs — was enough to convince New York Knick owner James Dolan and the Knicks front office to take the interim tag off Mike Woodson and keep him as coach.

So reports Frank Isola at the New York Daily News.

The Knicks have initiated talks that would keep Woodson as the team’s head coach for the foreseeable future, the Daily News has learned. The talks are only in the preliminary stages but it is clear that Madison Square Garden management is convinced Woodson is the right man for the job and will not pursue either Phil Jackson or Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

It was expected that Dolan wanted the big, splashy name to swoop in as head coach. However, on the court the team has responded well to Woodson — well, at least Carmelo Anthony has and plays hard for him in a way he wouldn’t for Mike D’Antoni — particularly on the defensive end.

Woodson got the team to close out the season playing well. In the playoffs the Knicks have struggled with the Heat, something that would have happened regardless of coach considering this injury-riddled roster — but they did end their 13-game playoff losing streak with a win Sunday.

In fact, Garden chairman James Dolan met with Woodson in the head coach’s office for 45 minutes prior to the Knicks’ emotional Game 4 victory over the Heat… Woodson has the support of several key players, most notably Carmelo Anthony. He also has a strong ally in GM Glen Grunwald, his former college teammate at Indiana. Both Grunwald and Woodson are long-time friends of former Knicks president Isiah Thomas, who serves as a de facto adviser to Dolan.

Ironically, it’s not the ties to Isiah that worries Dolan (although it does Knicks fans) rather it’s his ties to Larry Brown. Dolan and Brown clashed plenty in the year Brown coached the Knicks and Woodson both worked under Brown as an assistant for years and adopted some things from Brown’s style.

Keeping Woodson is a solid move. But now GM Grunwald needs to work in concert with him to reshape the roster. Right now, even when healthy, this Knicks team is not going to beat the Heat or Bulls, regardless of who is coach. They have questions to answer this summer, like should they try to trade Amare Stoudemire or go after free agent point guard Steve Nash (certainly a point guard upgrade but he would take the ball out of Carmelo’s hands and make him work off the ball).

But clearly the team they have has responded to Woodson.

  1. clifford84 - May 8, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    GOOD. Dolan is a moron, but Grunwald isn’t, so I’ll assume this was the latter’s decision. Woodson has been great this year.

    Also, regarding Steve Nash: Jeremy Lin is a very good young PG whom they have interest in developing further. They have no need to go after Nash. Get it through your head.

  2. jolink653 - May 8, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    so nice to see this team finally make a smart move when it comes to picking a coach…woodson got the most out of this roster and most importantly he (and chandler) turned one of the worst defensive teams of the last decade into one of the best in the league this year…i wanted no part of calipari and i wouldn’t have been crazy about phil jackson coming in…i don’t think stoudemire needs to be traded and i really hope they don’t wind up doing it i think all the problems they have with spacing can and will be solved with a productive training camp in the offseason (something this group of players have yet to have together) and i’m just glad they were able to win at least one game in the series

    • blueintown - May 8, 2012 at 11:09 AM

      Why would you not “have been crazy about Phil Jackson coming in”? That’s not a knock on Woodson. But, c’mon, it’s Phil Jackson.

      • jolink653 - May 8, 2012 at 1:47 PM

        phil jackson is so iffy on coming back at all and i could see him bailing on the team the second things don’t go right and i’d rather have a long term coach than someone that’s going to be there for only a year or two at most…i’m just not a big fan of jackson to begin with either

      • blueintown - May 8, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        Hmm. I understand the long-term concerns, but it’s still Phil Jackson. I suspect you’re not a fan because the Knicks might have three or four championship banners from the 90’s if not for – in part – Phil Jackson. Hard to believe someone wouldn’t want an eleven time champion as their coach.

      • majorhavoc83 - May 8, 2012 at 5:16 PM

        The Knicks would have to retool the team to fit with Phil Jackson’s coaching scheme. To me, that seems like an enormous investment that will take time (and money) to implement. Would Phil’s heart *really* be in it for the amount of time it would take to rebuild? I much prefer Coach Woodson to remain as the head coach. He’s done a great job, and he’s earned the position – as well as the respect of the players and fans.

      • jolink653 - May 8, 2012 at 7:54 PM

        the fact that the bulls dominated the 90s wasn’t so much a part of it as i blame jordan more than phil jackson for that…i don’t like that phil jackson used the knicks as leverage back when he was coaching the lakers to get more money from jerry buss…and truth be told (and i know i’ll get some angry comments about this) i think he was overrated as a coach…he had arguably the best player of all time in michael jordan surrounded by so much talent that they couldn’t possibly fail and then moved to the lakers where he had the most dominant center of all time in shaq and the best player of our era in kobe bryant again surrounded by a great roster…he has never taken a job unless the team was incredibly talented and until i see him take a average to below average team turn them around and win a championship i’ll continue to think he’s overrated

      • deadeyedesign23 - May 8, 2012 at 9:25 PM

        If winning with great players means you’re an overrated coach I don’t know who’s great. Aurbach certainly had no shortage of all time greats. If not for the bad boys who the hell is Chuck Daly? Gregg Popovich had 2 of the biggest big men of all time for half of his championships. Showtime certainly made Pat Riley look great.

        And speaking of Kobe and Shaq, how did those teams do when Rudy T was there? And how many Rings did Michael have before Phil?

        The NBA has almost always been about the star player. The only team I can think of off hand who won and did it without stars was that 04 Pistons team. I’m not saying Phil is the reason the Lakers and Bulls won as much as they did, but tell me a coach who won without incredibly talented players.

      • blueintown - May 9, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        The Knicks have talent. If all Phil Jackson has done is take talented teams and win championships (Eleven of them. ELEVEN!!!!!), then he should be number one on any Knicks fans’ list. Who cares if he used them as leverage for more money? That’s how business works anywhere. No one takes an average to below average team and makes them a champion. No one ever has, and no one ever will. Every team that wins a championship does so with an assemblage of massive talent. To claim that you desire a championship but decline to consider hiring an eleven-time champion as coach qualifies as some serious cognitive dissonance.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 8, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      Calipari is a hack. Just Sonny Vaccaro masquerading as a “coach”. Phil couldn’t do any better with my squad. Woody deserves it.

  3. jerseysportsbullies - May 8, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    I think this might be a BS rumor that was made out of someone reading into 1 a meeting they weren’t in after Knicks barely won their first playoff game like 15 years. I’m gonna wait and see on this story.

  4. mungman69 - May 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Keep Woodson. You need one sane person in that zoo.

  5. allball23 - May 8, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    Finally knicks have a decent head coach who knows what defense is. Please sign the man give him a full training camp, might be a steve nash and decent backup big away from making a serious run at a title.

  6. Mr. Wright 212 - May 8, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    DOLAN GETTING THINGS RIGHT FOR ONCE. The man is coaching with the most short-handed squad (three guys with ligament tears within a MONTH?) in the playoffs and playing against a buzz-saw that gets tons of unnecessary ref help. Phil Jackson would do no better.

    GOOD FOR WOODY.

    • soflasfinest - May 8, 2012 at 10:55 PM

      You really love throwing the heat in every one of yor posts. U mad bro?!

  7. dysraw1 - May 8, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    always did like woody and his accountability statements thats just kind coaching the knicks needed after sir Richard

  8. rayburns - May 8, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Or perhaps, Dolan knows that Phil Jackson would never stand for having Dolan’s old buddy Isiah Thomas in the mist….

    just sayin’

  9. rayburns - May 8, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Or perhaps, Dolan knows that Phil Jackson would never stand for having Dolan’s old buddy Isiah Thomas in the mix….

    just sayin’

  10. eshine76 - May 8, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    I’m guessing Phil Jackson made it clear that he wouldn’t be answering the phone, if called. Steve Nash is not the answer, as Melo won’t play off the ball; they tried that experiment with Jeremy Linn and it led to whining and a coaching change.

  11. acdc363 - May 8, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    I don’t think its so much SHOULD they trade Stoudemire I think its COULD they?

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 8, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      Sure they could. To a team with a fanbase that is starved for a big name. It has little to do with the uninsured contract and age/injuries.

      But I want to see what we can do with everyone healthy and a full year (including the first training camp together) under our belts first.

  12. metalhead65 - May 8, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Phil Jackson won’t coach them until woodson has finshed doing all the hard work putting the team in position to win. plus they have to have least 2 superstars and not just carmello on the team before Phil decides he wants to take over.

  13. nokoolaidcowboy - May 8, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Woodson. Rethink using Anthony as PG. Tony Douglas for one is sitting right there.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 8, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      And that’s exactly where he needs to remain, SITTING RIGHT THERE.

      • nokoolaidcowboy - May 8, 2012 at 5:42 PM

        You have so much time to prepare between games and you want to leave Douglas sitting on the bench? And you like Anthony pushing the ball up the court? Seriously?

  14. lakerluver - May 8, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    I like M. W. but the Knickles need a coach who can get them to play together better. Melo going 1 on 5 ain’t gonna get it. Phil Jackson doesn’t want any part of that circus.

  15. phillyfan4ever - May 8, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Check out that brotha suit

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