Thursday, May 10, 2012
Mike Woodson wants to return
By Ian Begley
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- Mike Woodson took over a floundering Knicks team in mid-March and led it to the playoffs. Now, he wants a chance to finish the job.
Woodson reiterated Thursday that he'd like to be brought back as the Knicks' coach next season.
"I want to be back, absolutely," Woodson said a day after New York's season-ending playoff series loss to the Miami Heat.
Woodson took over on an interim basis when Mike D'Antoni stepped down March 14. Under Woodson, the Knicks finished the regular season 18-6 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. He coached the team to a win in Game 4 of its first-round series against the Heat, which snapped the franchise's NBA record 13-game postseason losing streak.
He has received the support of many of the Knicks, including Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin.
Anthony has come out strongest in his support of Woodson.
"I'm hopeful he's back," Anthony said Thursday. "There's no need to try to change it up now. I'm a big believer in sticking with what you have."
When D'Antoni first stepped down, former Knicks player and Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson and Kentucky coach John Calipari were mentioned as possible replacements.
But there is no indication that the 66-year-old Jackson would come out of retirement, and Calipari repeatedly has denied interest in leaving Kentucky. So, after his successful run as an interim coach, Woodson appears to be the favorite to land the job.
Speaking Wednesday, Lin agreed with the idea that Woodson would be a good fit for the Knicks.
"I think he's gotten a lot out of all the players. The way we finished the season, the way we were playing defense, I think we were No. 1 during that stretch of the season," Lin said. "I think he's done a great job with this team and how he uses the players and what he gets out of the players."
Woodson denied reports that surfaced earlier this week stating he and the Knicks had begun preliminary conversations to bring him back next season.
However, multiple sources said Woodson is on the verge of splitting with his agent, Keith Glass. The leading candidate to represent Woodson is CAA, the agency with several ties to the Knicks' organization.
Glass is the son of Joe Glass, who represented former Knicks coach Larry Brown during his stormy one-season tenure in New York. Brown, who signed a five-year, $50 million deal with the Knicks, reached an $18.5 million settlement with the club after being fired.
Keith Glass issued a statement Thursday night.
"Hey, Mike deserves the job," he said. "I'm trying to take the high road and I won't be asking anyone at the Garden for directions."
CAA represents Anthony and J.R. Smith. It also represents Knicks executive Mark Warkentien.
Woodson, who took Atlanta to the playoffs three times during his six-season stint as head coach, was asked again on Thursday if any contract talks had taken place.
He did not respond directly to the question but intimated the conversations hadn't started yet.
"I'll have an opportunity to sit down with ownership, Mr. (James) Dolan and GM Glen (Grunwald)," Woodson said. "And I definitely do want to come back. ... we'll see how it turns out."