Mike Woodson agreed on a multiyear extension to coach the New York Knicks after helping the team resurrect its season and reach the National Basketball Association playoffs.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed yesterday in the team’s e-mail release.
Woodson, 54, moved up to interim coach from an assistant’s job on March 14 when coach Mike D’Antoni quit, with the Knicks at 18-24, mired in a six-game losing streak and locker-room bickering. The team went 18-6 under Woodson to finish the lockout-shortened regular season in second place in the Atlantic Division.
“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 James Dolan said in the team release. “We saw a significant improvement since Mike took over and believe our team will only keep improving under Mike’s direction.”
New York, with guards Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis lost to injuries, was eliminated in five games by the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. The Knicks’ one victory was their first postseason win since 2001.
“I’m very humbled and honored to continue coaching the franchise where I started my NBA career,” Woodson said in the team release. “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.”
The Knicks had become the toast of the NBA in February, winning seven straight games with Lin the surprising star at point guard. The Harvard University graduate, who signed as a free agent in December after being cut by two other teams, became an international celebrity as the first Chinese- or Taiwanese American to play in the NBA. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated for two straight weeks and captured the cover of the Asian edition of Time magazine.
The upswing didn’t last. All-Star Carmelo Anthony returned from injuries and never meshed with the free-flowing offense that D’Antoni designed and Lin directed. Hours before D’Antoni’s departure was announced, the New York Post reported that Anthony wanted to be traded by the next day’s league deadline.
D’Antoni told Sports Illustrated that he decided to resign while driving to practice, without having discussed his plans with his wife or his brother, Dan, a Knicks’ assistant who also lost his job.
“I was in my car driving to shootaround and it just came to me,” D’Antoni told the magazine in its May 21 issue. “‘That’s it. It’s inevitable. I have to resign. We’re not going anywhere.’ I made the decision then and there.”
The Knicks lost forward Amar’e Stoudemire to a back injury for much of the end of the regular season, with Lin also sidelined with a knee injury that kept him from postseason play. In the playoffs, Shumpert, a rookie and the team’s best outside defender, and Davis, a veteran point guard, tore knee ligaments, and Stoudemire missed a game after cutting his left hand when he punched a glass fire-extinguisher box after a loss.
Woodson coached the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-05 to 2009-10, leading the franchise to a 206-286 record and playoff appearances in his final three seasons.
A guard-forward, he played college basketball at Indiana University before being selected by the Knicks with the 12th overall pick in the 1980 NBA draft. Woodson played one season in New York before joining five other clubs during a career that ended in 1990.