NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks hired former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson on Monday as an assistant to Mike D'Antoni.
Though frequently considered a defensive specialist, Woodson made clear during a conference call that he can help D'Antoni in many roles.
"I'm just a coach that's looking for an opportunity. I have experience and I'm just excited about the opportunity," Woodson said. "That's all a coach in this league can ask for."
Woodson led the Hawks to three playoff berths in his six seasons in Atlanta, but was let go after they were swept in embarrassing fashion by Orlando in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.
He interviewed for the Detroit job that instead went to Lawrence Frank and also was a candidate in Houston, but now will try to help D'Antoni address the Knicks' struggles on the defensive end.
Yet D'Antoni also tried to downplay the notion of a "defensive specialist."
"I don't know where that came from, other than people writing about it," he said. "But he's a good coach."
Woodson began his pro playing career with the Knicks as the No. 12 pick in the 1980 NBA draft out of Indiana, where he played with former New York coach and president Isiah Thomas, and current general manager Glen Grunwald.
As an assistant to Larry Brown in Detroit, Woodson was credited with building the defense that helped the Pistons win the 2004 NBA championship. He was then hired in Atlanta, where he increased his win total every year from 13 in his first season to 53 in 2009-10. But the Hawks lost their four second-round games to the Magic by an average of 25.3 points, the most lopsided sweep in NBA history.
He gets back to work now with a Knicks team that has plenty of offense with Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, but remains one of the league's poorest defensive clubs. D'Antoni's strength has always been his offensive schemes, and Woodson said he can offer input in that regard, as well as working with young players.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The one thing we can all agree on is this is at least a good start. D'Antoni said he was looking to add a defensive assistant and he made good on what he said. Whether he did it to cover his ass and make it look like he's trying or if he's actually going to let Mike Woodson take over for part of practice and coach defense remains to be seen. I know alot of you think D'Antoni wont give Woodson much room to work with but I for one think he will and that Woodson will have a tremendous impact on our team. If we can even be a TOP 15 defensive team because of this I think it would be a big help because of all the offensive weapons we have...of course were going to have to be better then top 15 to win it all but until we get some better defensive pieces it's going to be hard to do. All I can say now is I'm ready for the Mike & Mike regime to begin
Cool for the time being but if and when D'Antoni get the boot (let's hope he will lol), is this dude gonna be the front runner for the job. I'm ok with him as an assistant but I'm not sure about his head coaching skills.